Does Your Apartment Have Lead Paint?

uteuunhvmls-steinar-engeland-300x200There are no shortages of older buildings in San Francisco. While these old homes and apartment buildings may have their own charm, they also often have lead paint since it was not banned until 1978. When lead-based paint is in good shape, it poses little health threat to you or other renters. However, older and poorly maintained units can have lead paint that is chipping, peeling off the walls, and contributing to a great deal of contaminated dust. If you believe your unit has lead paint or you know it has lead paint and it is causing your health issues, call a San Francisco tenant rights attorney from Brod Law Firm as soon as possible.

The Potential Dangers of Lead Paint

Lead is a highly toxic metal that can cause individuals both minor and serious health problems. When too much lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause seizures and lead to damage in the brain and other vital organs like the kidneys. Lead is particularly dangerous for kids and pregnant women. Even small amounts of lead in kids younger than 6 can lead to mental and physical developmental issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. For pregnant women, high lead levels in the body can increase the risk of miscarriage, early birth, low birth weight, health issues for the fetus, and developmental delays in the child.

Lead paint is one of the main causes of lead poisoning in children, and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 4 million households with kids are exposed to high levels of lead. Kids can be exposed to far too much lead over time through lead paint on toys and in older homes. The dust in older buildings also tends to be contaminated with lead. Renovations in older homes and apartment buildings without proper precautions are particularly bad about putting lead into the environment.

Required Disclosure in California

Property sellers and landlords in California are required to tell you any and all known information about lead paint within the property where you rent, including the results of any tests conducted. They must also provide you with a pamphlet about lead paint issues. While this disclosure is good for when you are looking to rent – particularly if you will have children living with you – it is not a perfect system. Landlords are not required to test for lead paint in their rental units. Even if they suspect there could be lead paint, they may never test so that they do not have to tell you it is there.

Figuring Out if You Have Lead Paint in Your Unit

If you suspect that your rental unit has lead paint, contact your landlord right away. You may also want to test the apartment yourself or call a professional, if the landlord is not taking action. To provide yourself more leverage with your landlord, you can purchase relatively cheap lead tests from your local hardware store.

Dealing With Lead Paint

Many landlords are hesitant to deal with lead paint in their units. Many believe that if it is in decent condition, it can be left alone. Or they may simply paint over it. However, if you know there is lead paint in your apartment and you or someone in your family is suffering health consequences due to it, then the issue may rise to the level of inhabitability and you may have the right to have the problem corrected.

If your landlord is dragging his or her feet or refuses to deal with the problem, contact a tenant rights attorney about the lead paint as soon as possible. You may have a number of options including breaking your lease without financial repercussions or forcing your landlord to properly remove the paint. You may have the right to “repair and deduct,” however lead paint removal may cost more than one month’s rent, taking away this option.

Additionally, if your lease states your apartment is lead free but it is not, then you may be able to obtain damages from your landlord.

Contact a San Francisco Tenant Rights Attorney Today

If you are dealing with a lead paint problem in your San Francisco apartment, do not hesitate to reach out to the attorneys of Brod Law Firm for advice. We have years of experiencing helping our clients work with their landlords to have hazards repaired or to get them into new, safer places to live. Call us today at (800) 427-7020 to schedule a free consultation.


(image courtesy of Steinar Engeland)

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