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What happens after toxic exposure to lead in a rental home?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | Real Estate

Tenants have a right to expect that the properties they rent are relatively safe. Standards in New York impose numerous obligations on landlords ranging from disclosure requirements to testing an abatement in cases involving the potential for toxic exposure.

Unfortunately, many landlords do the bare minimum necessary to comply with the law. They might slip a disclosure form in with the lease while failing to fully discuss the condition of the property. In fact, they may actively misrepresent the condition of the property during the leasing stage. For example, landlords might tell tenants that lead disclosures are required for all properties built before a certain year. What they may fail to mention is that they know conclusively that there is lead present in the home.

Why is there lead in some rental homes?

Lead was once a key component of the best paints. Many property owners who acquire older buildings do not want to pay the high cost of professional remediation to actually remove the lead paint. Instead, they cover it up or just have every tenant sign a flimsy release document when taking possession of a unit contaminated with lead.

Paint throughout a rental property, particularly on window casing and doors, may be old enough to contain lead in some cases. Dust and chips comprised of that paint can lead to toxic exposure and a host of challenges. By the time children begin complaining of symptoms, the amount of lead in their bodies may be quite high.

Lead exposure is dangerous for children

Lead exposure in utero or during formative years can lead to a host of undesirable consequences. The symptoms of lead poisoning are easy to confuse with other issues. People report nausea and abdominal pain, as well as vomiting in some cases. They may feel weak and irritable. Frequent headaches are another common symptom.

Research connects lead exposure with decreased academic performance and overall intelligence. Lead also has a connection with emotional volatility and impulsive crimes. Despite all of the risk factors, many landlords fail to properly remediate lead or address its presence in their properties.

A landlord’s failure to inform tenants about the presence of lead in a rental home could lead to unintentional toxic exposure, medical expenses and potentially a long-term reduction in a child’s earning potential. As such, this kind of situation may be legally actionable for those affected.