Until it was found to have adverse effects on human health, particularly on the health of children, lead-based paint was used in many homes and apartment units in the U.S. To reduce exposure to lead-based paint hazards, Congress enacted the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act in 1992 (Title X of Public Law 102-550).
This law requires sellers to disclose the existence of any known lead-based paint in pre-1978 residential properties, and to disclose the results of any previous testing for lead-based paint. As a result, Title X created additional responsibilities for real estate agents and brokers and property managers in sales and lease transactions by requiring them to facilitate disclosure of this information and to ensure the buyer receives and reviews the relevant information on lead-based paint hazards.
How Lead-Based Paint Rules Affect REALTORS®
The most recent EPA rule in this area addresses lead hazards in remodeling and renovation projects. To reduce exposure to lead-based paint hazards during renovation activities, EPA requires notification and work safety procedures before, during, and after certain remodeling or renovation activity. These rules will particularly impact REALTORS® who have significant property management activities in their practice and residential property managers.
In addition, the EPA is also interested in applying the same regulatory approach to renovation activities in public and commercial buildings. Because of the significant differences between residential and commercial structures, NAR is concerned about a “one-size-fits-all” approach to regulating lead hazards in commercial buildings. At this time, the EPA has not provided a time frame to move forward with this regulation.
None at this time.
What is the fundamental issue?
Under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, REALTORS® are required to facilitate a process by which the presence of lead paint in pre-1978 homes is disclosed by the owner to a prospective buyer in a timely manner. The purpose of this regulatory process is to reduce exposure to lead paint and improve public health.
The same Act directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate renovation, repair and painting (RRP) activities in pre-1978 residential properties, which has been completed.
Currently, the Agency is considering extending those rules to all commercial and public buildings but first is required to determine whether or not RRP activities in these properties create a lead hazard that harms occupants.
I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?
The law requires real estate professionals to obtain and disclose information on known lead paint hazards in homes. REALTORS® are also required to have both buyer and seller review an informational pamphlet on the hazards of lead paint, date and initial a disclosure form, keep hard copies of this information for three years, be subject to periodic, unannounced searches by EPA officials and be fined if non-compliance is discovered. All of these requirements have legal, educational and regulatory costs associated with them.
For the Lead Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting program, residential property managers must spend more on staff who now must be EPA certified in lead-safe renovation procedures. The Agency may impose the same regulatory burden on commercial building owners and managers if data show their RRP activities pose a lead hazard to children.
In addition, contractors must be certified and comply with the lead-safe renovation procedures, which drives up the cost of these renovation activities, and ultimately the cost of owning and managing both residential and commercial properties.
NAR opposes mandatory testing for lead-based paint tied to the transaction process and supports property condition disclosure and education.
Owners of office buildings, factories or other properties where children don’t live or play should be allowed to opt out of mandatory testing for lead-based paint when repairs and renovations are undertaken. Unlike residential housing, children do not spend significant time in these properties. Forcing commercial properties to hire more specialized and expensive contractors to provide routine repairs and maintenance without any public health benefit is unnecessary.
On April 22, 2010, the EPA issued the residential RRP regulations to certify renovators/remodelers in lead-safe procedures. NAR has on-going concerns with this rule, including:
- Elimination of the “opt-out” provision that previously exempted low-risk property owners from the rule –- for example, elderly and childless couples.
- EPA’s inability to certify a Lead Paint Test Kit which would enable RRP contractors to quickly and inexpensively exclude any home that does not have lead paint.
Currently, the EPA is considering extending the residential regulations to all commercial buildings. Originally, the Agency had suggested basing its determination solely on residential RRP data. But as part of a broad coalition, NAR submitted extensive comments questioning the scientific basis for such an approach, and Congress held oversight hearings. The Agency has since reversed course and issued a request for hazard determination data.
At this time, EPA has not provided a time frame for moving forward with a hazard determination or proposed rule for lead paint RRP activities in commercial buildings.
NAR has also provided comprehensive information to REALTORS® on RRP regulatory compliance and will continue to communicate with the EPA on how the residential rule and proposed commercial rule impact REALTORS®, property managers and contractors.
Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee
NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.
EPA, Housing Group Defend Lead Paint Standard to 9th Cir. (Bloomberg Law, Jun. 23, 2020)
EPA Proposal Strengthens Regulations and Protects Children from Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Dust (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Jun. 17, 2020)
In Older Houses, a Trove of Lead Risks (The Seattle Times, Oct. 7, 2019)
Government Agencies Show Alarm over Lead Paint (REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 1, 2019)
11,168 Children Tested Positive for Lead. The City Didn’t Inspect the Homes (The New York Times, Sep. 26, 2019)
HUD Commits $330 Million to Prop Up ‘Healthy’ Housing (REALTOR® Magazine, Jul. 1, 2019)
I Found Lead Paint in my Historic House (Curbed, Mar. 20, 2019)
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Information From NAR Legal Affairs
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Guidance - EPA and HUD Enforcement (National Association of REALTORS®)
Lead-Based Paint - HUD and EPA Responses to NAR's Compliance Questions (National Association of REALTORS®)
Lead-Based Paint - HUD and EPA Disclosure Regulations (National Association of REALTORS®)
Lead-Based Paint - Interpretive Disclosure Guidance for the Real Estate Community (National Association of REALTORS®)
REALTORS® Lead-Based Paint Compliance Guide
Lead Paint Disclosure Requirements
Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home – Real Estate Disclosure Pamphlet (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Jan. 2020)
Real Estate Lead-Based Paint Disclosures and Facts (The Balance, Jul. 29, 2019)
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure for Rental Property (Rental Property Owners Association, Jul. 24, 2019)
Does a Seller Have to Disclose About a Property and How? (Forbes, May 1, 2019)
Real Estate Disclosures about Potential Lead Hazards (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 15, 2019)
Lead-Based Paint Abatement
How to Safely Remove Lead-Based Paint with Abatement Methods (The Balance, Sep. 30, 2019)
Baltimore is Getting $9.7 Million to Eliminate Lead-Based Paint in Low-Income Households (CBS Baltimore, Sep. 26, 2019)
Questions and Answers for Homeowners and Renters about Understanding Lead Inspections, Risk Assessments, and Abatements (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 15, 2019)
Lead Poisoning Prevention – Hiring a Lead Contractor (Minnesota Department of Health, Mar. 12, 2019)
Get the Lead Out: Homeowner’s Lead-based Paint Abatement Guide (Illinois Department of Public Health, Apr. 2016)
Lead Paint Removal: How To, Options, and Costs (HouseLogic)
Lead Abatement, Inspection, and Risk Assessment (United States Environmental Protection Agency)
Lead-Based Paint (National Association of REALTORS®)
Lead (United States Environmental Protection Agency)
About Lead-based Paint (United States Department of Housing & Urban Development)
About Lead (Green and Healthy Homes Initiative)
Case Studies in Healthcare Financing of Healthy Homes Services (Lead Studies) (National Center for Healthy Housing)
Lead Hotline: The National Lead Information Center (United States Environmental Protection Agency) — Provides the general public and professionals with information about lead hazards and their prevention.
HUD Office of Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard Control (United States Department of Housing & Urban Development) — Features information on lead paint disclosure, a list of insurers offering lead liability coverage, technical studies, information and outreach materials, an extensive collection of articles, and more.
CDC Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (United States Centers for Disease Control) — Includes lead FAQs, publications on health effects of lead, and a section of lead-related data & statistics.
Lead (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences—National Institutes of Health) — Information on environmental health effects of lead.
Books, eBooks & Other Resources
The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:
Inspect Before You Buy (Audiobook, eBook)
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
The resources below are available for loan through NAR Library & Archives. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call the Library at 800-874-6500 for assistance.
Brush with Death: A Social History of Lead Poisoning (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000) RA 1231 W37
Home Inspector's Guide to Training the Real Estate Professional: An Overview of the Home Inspection Process (Hurricane Press, 1998) HD 1341 Sh8h
REALTORS® Lead-Based Paint Compliance Guide (National Association of REALTORS®)
Lead-Based Paint Reference Guide (REALTOR® Store, Item #141-558)
Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home (REALTOR® Store, Item #141-40)
Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools (REALTOR® Store, Item #E141-4)
Have an idea for a real estate topic? Send us your suggestions.
The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.