Knowledge about resources and health is constantly changing. Materials once considered cheap and useful are now explicitly prohibited from utilization in certain industries. Both lead and asbestos used to feature prominently in products used in residential homes.
However, decades ago, federal and state regulations begin limiting the use of these toxic substances in human habitations. Although New York has had a ban on lead paint in dwellings for many years, there are quite a few older buildings that have lead paint, often underneath newer, fresher layers of paint.
What are your rights if you notice signs of toxic lead exposure in yourself or your children when living in a rented property?
Lead can cause lasting consequences
Lead can cause damage to the kidneys, brain and reproductive systems. It can also affect people’s behavior. Lead is dangerous for anyone but particularly problematic for small children. They may not recognize the danger that comes from breathing in the dust near the windows, which may include small particulate pieces of lead paint. In fact, they may even peel paint chips off of the walls and eat them.
Typically, landlords should try to make their properties safe, which includes remediating or at least containing the lead that is present. They also have an obligation to disclose the presence of lead in their properties.
Unfortunately, many tenants don’t receive appropriate notice but simply have to sign a lead paint disclosure when filling out other lease documents. They may not recognize that doing so will create more challenges for them if they need to make a claim later.
Signing a waiver doesn’t end your rights
If your landlord has not properly maintained the property and did not adequately warn you about the presence of lead in the home that you rented, you may have grounds for a toxic exposure claim.
You can potentially hold your landlord responsible for both the medical costs and even lost future income depending on the impact of the exposure. Chemical testing and a review of your lease documents will likely be important early steps to take when considering a claim related to lead poisoning.
Holding landlords accountable for toxic exposure can compensate your family and get them to change how they maintain their properties.