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Lead Paint

What liability do rental property owners have if they don't comply with the state Lead Law?

If a property owner of a home built before 1978 in which a child under six lives fails to delead or bring the home under interim control, and a child is lead poisoned as a result, the property owner is strictly liable for all damages. An owner is not strictly liable for lead poisoning if a Letter of Compliance or Letter of Interim Control is in effect. Strict liability means owners may be liable even if they did not know lead paint was in the home. Since harm to the kidneys and blood cells, delays in growth, learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disturbances resulting from lead poisoning can have life-long effects, monetary damages awarded against an owner responsible for a child's lead poisoning can be substantial. Failing to delead or bring under interim control a home to which the Lead Law applies is also an emergency public health matter, and can carry criminal penalties. An owner who is notified by a public agency of Lead Law violation in a property he or she owns, and who willfully fails to correct the dangerous conditions, is also subject to punitive damages, which are three times the actual damages found. These provisions are in addition to any other legal rights the lead-poisoned child may have.

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