Federal Lead Based Paint Rules
The federal lead-based paint regulations have a substantial impact on anyone involved in the sale or lease of residential properties built before 1978, called "target housing." These rules took effect beginning in September 1996. It is imperative that consumers and real estate professionals alike understand their rights and duties under the rules.
The federal rules are designed to protect families from lead poisoning due to exposure to lead-based paint hazards. According to the Wisconsin Division of Housing, half of the housing in every Wisconsin county has some lead-based paint. Between July 1, 1994, and June 30, 1995, 41,033 Wisconsin children were screened for lead poisoning and 20.7 percent tested positive. The national average is about 9 percent.
In transactions involving target housing, the federal rules require sellers and landlords to disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards to buyers and renters. Specifically, the rules require sellers and landlords to:
- disclose the presence of known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards to buyers/renters
- provide buyers/renters with any available records regarding any known lead-based paint
- provide buyers/renters with a federally-approved lead hazard information booklet
- include certain disclosure and acknowledgment language in sales and leasing contracts
- provide home buyers with a 10-day opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense
The rules also provide that agents involved in target housing transactions must make sure that sellers and landlords comply with the law. In many cases, the agents will personally fulfill the federal disclosure requirements to ensure compliance.
The effective date of the law depends on the number of residential dwelling units owned by the seller or landlord. For owners of more than 4 residential dwelling units, the effective date was Sept. 6, 1996. For owners of 4 or fewer dwelling units, the effective date was Dec. 6, 1996. Violation of these requirements may result in civil and criminal penalties and potential triple damages, as well as attorney fees, in a private civil suit.
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