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Property Owners & Lead-Based Paint / Things to Know

In September 1999, stricter federal regulations were passed regarding lead based paint when a property owner elects to sell or lease a property built prior to 1978. Previous to the new regulations, owners that leased property built before 1978 were required to disclose any known lead based paint hazards to lessees, provide them a copy of the brochure "Protect Your Family from Lead in your Home", and sign a lead based paint disclosure form with the lessee (see "Required Forms" section). The Housing Quality Standards for the HCV program required that any defective (chipping, peeling, chalking) paint present in a unit where a child six or younger lived should be abated by EPA standards.  

The  September 1999 legislation strengthened  the regulations regarding lead-based paint. Property owners still must disclose any known lead-based paint hazards, provide a copy of the brochure "Protect your Family from Lead in your Home," and sign a lead-based paint disclosure form with lessees. In addition, according to the new regulations, when defective paint (chipping, peel, chalking) is repaired in a unit built before 1978, the owner must hire a certified lead based paint specialist to complete the lead hazard work. After the lead hazard work is completed, a clearance examination must be completed by a certified lead-based paint specialist who did not perform the hazard control work. The regulations require that specialists trained in the proper removal of lead-based paint be hired to complete lead hazard work because lead dust can form when lead-based paint is removed improperly. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch during and after a renovation, and settled dust can reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through.  

Lead-based paint that is in good condition usually is not a hazard. Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard that requires immediate attention, especially if a family with young children is living in the unit. A lead-based paint hazard is defined as deteriorated lead-based paint, lead-based paint on friction surfaces, impact surfaces, accessible (chewable) surfaces, and dust and soil that is contaminated with lead.  

HUD recommends that property owners be proactive with paint renovations. If property owners properly repaint or cover areas with chipping/peeling paint on a routine basis (and prior to the HQS inspection), the paint will not be defective, and the owner will not be required to test the paint for lead content or complete lead hazard controls. Keeping all painted surfaces free of chipping/peeling paint will protect your investment, provide a quality product for your residents, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, protect small children from the hazards of lead-based paint.  

When you lease a unit built before 1978 to a family with children six years old or younger, you should be particularly aware of defective paint in the unit. Chipping, peeling, and chalking paint is considered a serious Housing Quality Standards problem when children six and younger live in a rental unit because the children are at an elevated risk for lead poisoning. 

Lead poisoning may cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning disabilities, slowed growth, hearing problems, and headaches.

Lead is more dangerous to children than adults because

  • Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths, and these objects may have lead dust on them.
  • Children's growing bodies absorb more lead.
  • Children's developing brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. 

For the purpose of NHA's Housing Quality Standards in the HCV program, lead-based paint is only an issue if the unit was built before 1978 and there is a child age 6 (72 months) or younger in the household. If during a visual inspection, defective paint is present and the family requesting to lease the unit has a child six years of age or younger, the following guidelines will be followed:

  • The owner may have the unit tested by a certified lead-based paint inspector. If an owner has the unit tested and it is found to be free of lead-based paint, then the owner does not have to engage in the abatement process. No further action is required. The owner must provide the NHA with a copy of the clearance letter. If the test confirms the presence of lead in the paint, then the EPA and HUD regulations must be followed for the stabilization or removal of paint from the defective surfaces. After the stabilization or removal is completed, a clearance examination must be conducted by a person who did not perform the hazard control work. The owner must provide the NHA with a copy of the clearance letter or report that shows the unit is lead-free before the unit may be approved. 
  • If the owner chooses not to have the unit tested, then the owner must stabilize or remove the defective paint, assuming that there is lead present in accordance with EPA and HUD regulations. After the lead hazard work is complete, a clearance examination must be conducted by a person who did not perform the hazard control work. The owner must provide the NHA with a copy of the clearance letter or report that shows the unit is lead-free before the unit may be approved.  

Any method of abatement can be dangerous if not completed properly. It is best to hire a certified lead-based paint professional. Hud regulations require that a certified lead-based paint abatement worker and/or supervisor complete lead-based paint abatement.  

In all cases, the following methods of paint removal should not be used because they may create dangerous levels of lead dust and fumes: 

  • Open flame burning or torching
  • Abrasive blasting without high efficiency (HEPA) vacuum local exhaust Machine sanding or grinding without HEPA vacuum local exhaust o Heat guns at temperatures above 1100°F
  • Dry scraping (wet scraping should be done instead, except near electrical outlets, where the use of water could result in electrocution hazards, and except for very small areas of deteriorated paint, such as nail holes and hairline cracks)
  • Paint stripping in a poorly ventilated space using a volatile stripper that is a hazardous substance (according to regulations of the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), such as methylene chloride  

The NHA staff is not certified in the area of lead-based paint interim controls or abatement procedures. The NHA staff can not advise property owners on the proper on-site procedures to be followed.