Guidance for avoiding liability from lead-based paint and mold.
using bleach on black mold on wall
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Every state requires owners of rental units (single- and multifamily) to provide basic maintenance services on heating and plumbing systems and to ensure clean running water and a sound structure that doesn’t pose unreasonable safety risks. The legal concept of “habitability” sounds like common sense, but neglect in any of those areas can cause legal liability for owners and landlords, challenges for property managers, and serious health problems for tenants, says Monica Gilroy, a real estate lawyer and founding principal of The Gilroy Firm in Atlanta.

Gilroy recently spoke with property managers about reducing risks associated with lead-based paint and mold.

Changes in Getting the Lead Out

In July, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an update to its rule requiring property managers to hire a certified professional to deal with repair, renovation and remediation involving lead-based paint. If implemented, the proposed rule could require property managers be certified to deal with lead-based paint repair and remediation. A public comment period about the change ended in late 2023, and the agency was expected to release a final decision in Q1 2024. “The reality of that decision means that to be safe, potentially, if [they’re] doing any renovation, property managers should be certified,” Gilroy says, adding that a property management firm could appoint one person to become certified.

Take Mold Claims Seriously

If tenants claim there’s mold in their unit or in the building, investigate the situation promptly, Gilroy advises. Look at any test results the tenant may have commissioned. Create written procedures and a checklist in response to any reports of mold. Develop instructions for tenants that outline what they should do whenever they believe they have encountered mold.

Adapted from the webinar “How to Avoid Legal Liabilities When Dealing With Property Owners and Investors,” moderated by Rental Beast, the National Association of REALTORS®’ exclusive recommended software provider in the rental space.


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