When you rent out your property, you may be required by law to disclose certain information. Failure to provide these disclosures may result in lawsuits, liability issues, and problems with your state’s property management agency.
Lead disclosures. As a landlord, you are required to provide all new tenants with a lead disclosure form. This is due to the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act passed in 1992, which is also known as Title X.
Under this act, landlords must provide disclosure on any health hazards due to lead-based paint in their rental dwellings. You and your tenant must both sign an EPA approved disclosure form if there is lead in the building. This form must be provided to each new tenant who moves in to your property. You must keep a copy of the signed form in your tenant’s record for at least three years from the date that your tenant takes occupancy in your building.
In addition to this form, you must also provide an EPA pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.” If you do not have copies of this pamphlet, contact your state’s property management agency to obtain them. You may also call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD or download copies from the EPA Web site.
You must also provide lead disclosures and pamphlets to existing tenants if you plan on renovating any property built before 1978. This notice must be given at least 60 days before you begin to renovate your property. Renovation may disturb and release particles of lead-based paint, which was commonly used before 1978.
If you are renovating common areas of such a property, like a recreation area in an apartment complex, this notice is required for each unit in the building. This notice must contain the start date for the planned renovations as well as the nature of the renovations.
Asbestos disclosures. Asbestos insulation was commonly used in buildings until the 1970s, when the dangers of asbestos insulation became known. If your rental property still has asbestos insulation, you may be required by law to disclose this information to your tenants. Since this represents a significant health hazard, you should also consider having the insulation removed by a firm that specializes in asbestos remediation.
Renovations to older properties can disturb asbestos fibers, sending them into the air, where they post a serious inhalation hazard. These particles can lodge in the lungs and, over time, can cause cancer. If you plan to renovate a property that contains asbestos insulation, you must also provide disclosure to your tenants.
Other hazards. If your property contains other hazards, such as faulty equipment or other known hazards, you should disclose this information to your tenants. Protecting your tenants is the responsible way to act as a landlord. Neglecting these duties can result in liability and may affect your ability to continue renting your property.
Take the time to familiarize yourself not only with your state regulations but the condition of your property. Finding out what dangers may be lurking under the surface is well worth the effort.