We get a lot of inquiries from people in the market to purchase a new home about whether or not they should have the home tested for lead. Our answer? Absolutely. Then we are hit with the follow-up question – “But the seller says there is no lead. Should we still have it tested?” The answer is still yes.
The way the EPA rules are written, sellers and landlords must disclose known lead-based paint hazards. “Known” being the key word here. Conveniently, if they have never done a lead test, then they can say that they didn’t know that there was lead in the home, and are covered from a legal standpoint. Quite simply, there are loopholes because of the language. Yes – it’s sneaky, but it happens all too often.
If, on the other hand, a landlord or seller does know about pre-existing lead-paint hazards, there are specific rules they need to follow:
- Provide any available written reports to buyers or renters on the lead hazards that exist, including lead testing reports and lead abatement information.
- Buyers and renters must be given a pamphlet from the EPA, HUD and CSPC titled “Protect Your Family from Lead Paint in Your Home,” from the seller, landlord, or agent.
- The sales contracts and leasing agreements must contain notification and disclosure language for the existence of lead paint hazards.
- Sellers, lessors, and real estate agents share the responsibility of ensuring compliance, and they are all potentially liable. You may be able to negotiate the cost of lead testing into the price of the home, depending on the market in your area. Buyers generally have a 10-day period (unless otherwise agreed upon) to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment.
Regardless of who pays for it, the most important thing is that you have your potential future home tested for lead. Don’t risk the safety and health of your family to save a few bucks. An independent lead inspector, like RTK Environmental Group, will perform the tests and provide you with an unbiased report, making sure that you have all the facts before you make such a huge purchasing decision.