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.
Protect Your Family from Sources of Lead (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Sep. 22, 2021)
This page provides information about potential sources of lead in:
- Older homes and buildings
- Soil, yards and playgrounds
- Drinking water
- Jobs and hobbies
- Folk remedies
Healthy Household 101: The Dangers of Lead-Based Paint (National Center for Healthy Housing, Feb. 12, 2021)
“The only requirement for a lead paint hazard is that the home was constructed before 1978, when lead-based paint was banned by the government for use on residential market. Lead-based paint was slowly phased out over several decades, so homes built in the mid-1970s are less likely to have lead-based paint than those built in the mid-1960s, which are less likely than those built in the mid-1950s, and so on.”
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Information From NAR Legal Affairs
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Guidance - EPA and HUD Enforcement (National Association of REALTORS®)
The U.S. EPA Compliance Assistance Program, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, How EPA Will Generate Enforcement Matters, EPA Compliance Inspections of Confidential Business Records, Sanctions and Penalties For Violations, Enforcement by HUD, and Regional Lead Contacts List.
Lead-Based Paint - HUD and EPA Responses to NAR's Compliance Questions (National Association of REALTORS®)
“In general, the Act requires that sellers of property built before 1978 disclose all known information about the presence of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards on their premises. The regulations require a real estate licensee to inform sellers and lessors of their disclosure obligations and also insure that the seller or lessor complies with the requirements of the Act. Read more about the Act and the subsequent regulations here. [Included] is a summary of the Regulators' responses to NAR and IREM's questions.”
Lead-Based Paint - HUD and EPA Disclosure Regulations (National Association of REALTORS®)
“The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (Title X of Public Law 102-550) directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to jointly issue regulations requiring disclosure of certain information about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in residential real estate transactions. After considerable delay, those regulations (which appear at 24 C.F.R. Part 35 and 40 C.F.R. Part 745) were issued in final form on March 6, 1996, and are summarized.”
Lead-Based Paint - Interpretive Disclosure Guidance for the Real Estate Community (National Association of REALTORS®)
“Subsequent to the publication of the final rule, EPA and HUD have received questions from the real estate community about implementation of the rule. EPA and HUD have developed this "Interpretive Guidance" document to supplement the information presented in the final rule. This guidance will be expanded and updated as necessary.”
REALTORS® Lead-Based Paint Compliance Guide (National Association of REALTORS®)
A video overview of rule for REALTORS®, what you need to know, how to comply, when the rule applies, and what you should watch for.
Lead Paint Disclosure Requirements
Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home – Real Estate Disclosure Pamphlet (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Aug. 6, 2021)
Printable brochure available in multiple languages for distribution to clients.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure for Rental Property (Rental Property Owners Association, Jul. 24, 2019)
All tenants should be given the proper lead-based paint disclosure form along with other pertinent documents before a lease is signed and dated. This applies if the rental property you are leasing was built before 1978 (see some exemptions below). Make sure all parties sign and date the disclosure as appropriate.
Real Estate Disclosures about Potential Lead Hazards (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 15, 2019)
Outlines one’s rights before buying or leasing a home, and one’s responsibilities before selling or leasing a home.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule (Section 1018 of Title X) (United States Environmental Protection Agency)
“This requires that potential buyers and renters of housing built prior to 1978 receive certain information about lead and lead hazards in the residence prior to becoming obligated to buy or rent, and provides the opportunity for an independent lead inspection for buyers. Sellers, landlords, and agents are responsible for compliance.”
Lead-Based Paint Abatement
How to Safely Remove Lead-Based Paint with Abatement Methods (The Balance, Sep. 30, 2019)
“Lead abatement requirements apply only in states and Indian jurisdictions without any authorized lead abatement program. EPA has posted this information on its website which may be accessed by visiting the Lead Professionals page or contacting the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD.”
Questions and Answers for Homeowners and Renters about Understanding Lead Inspections, Risk Assessments, and Abatements (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 15, 2019)
“Sometimes, a local agency will direct abatement in a home. At other times, you may choose an abatement because you may feel that this is the best way to protect your children from lead exposure. Or, you may feel more comfortable having your lead-based paint abated rather than committing to long-term regular maintenance. Your risk assessor can help you decide among these options.”
Lead Paint Removal: How To, Options, and Costs (HouseLogic, 2021)
“If you have lead-based paint, you have several options for removal. Although some states allow you to do the work yourself, a contractor who is certified in lead paint removal is trained to do the job safely and will determine the best abatement strategy.”
Lead Abatement, Inspection, and Risk Assessment (United States Environmental Protection Agency)
“Lead abatement is an activity designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards. Abatement is sometimes ordered by a state or local government, and can involve specialized techniques not typical of most residential contractors.”
Lead (United States Environmental Protection Agency)
Links to pages about safety, Renovation, Repair, & Painting (RRP) Program, abatement and evaluation, policy and guidance.
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.