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What You Need to Know About Lead-Based Paint Exposure

Chipped Off Lead Paint Laying on the FloorIt is your duty, as a Honolulu landlord as well as a property owner, to keep your rental property in a safe and habitable state. This would mean doing regular maintenance and repairs for almost all property owners. However, if your rental house was built before 1978, then there are a couple of other things you may need to add to your property maintenance list. For instance, a lot of older homes were created using lead-based paint on the inside walls and ceilings. As much as possible, landlords should take into account limiting lead-based paint exposure to tenants. The reason for this is that lead-based paint can be extremely dangerous. In the next sections, we’re going to talk about some of the hidden risks of lead-based paint in a rental home and what property owners can do to protect their tenants from exposure.

The Hidden Dangers of Lead Paint

Lead-based paint was usually applied in buildings constructed before 1978. Unless the paint is disturbed, chips, or crumbles into dust, having lead paint on the walls will not necessarily be dangerous. Old lead paint becomes toxic to individuals (especially children) if they come into contact with it. The most common area for this to happen would be around windows and window sills, railings, banisters, porches, doors, and door frames. If an adult ingests lead paint flakes or inhales the dust, it can lead to a host of health problems. This includes headaches, body aches, digestive issues, memory loss, and even kidney damage. Lead paint is mainly harmful to children, resulting in learning disabilities, hearing problems, nerve damage, and bone marrow challenges. Some of these health issues can have a lifelong and damaging impact on people who are unfortunate enough to become exposed to lead-based paint.

Landlord Responsibilities

Your top priority, as a landlord, should be the health and safety of your tenants. The risks of lead paint surpass that as well. As a matter of fact, if you knowingly rent a property with lead-based paint without divulging that fact to your tenants, you could be liable for any related financial expenses of treatment and additional damages, such as pain and suffering, in most states. Due to this, it is important to understand if your rental property has lead-based paint, inside or out, and take any appropriate steps from there.

If you are not certain if your rental has lead-based paint or not, you should first have it tested and inspected. Just basing off of the property’s age and location may not be enough to trust the information given to you when you bought the property. Then, if lead is found, you may be legally required to inform your tenants and give them information about lead-based paint and the dangers of exposure.

Avoiding Tenant Exposure

A key option to eliminate any chance of exposure is to have the lead paint removed altogether. This option, while expensive, is the usual permanent long-term solution to the issue. Do not try to remove lead-based paint yourself; this is a task better left to the professionals.

If removal and replacement are not viable solutions, you could encapsulate or enclose your rental’s surfaces to deter any contact with the lead paint. Generally, the more affordable option among the two would be encapsulation. This process involves applying a special coating over the lead paint, which creates a watertight seal. Enclosure, just like putting up new drywall over an old one or covering window sills with cladding, involves covering the old surface with a new one. While both alternatives would work temporarily, if the coating ever fades away or the enclosed surface is removed, the threat of exposure would be great. On top of that, you would still need to provide disclosures to your tenant about the lead paint, according to the laws in your area.


At Real Property Management Alliance, we are aware that owning rental properties can come with a few unforeseen challenges. When these challenges do arise, you need the experience and resources of Honolulu property management experts to help you in every step. To learn more, contact us online.

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