The law has plenty to say about lead hazards and rental property. Most laws will be no problem if you:
A federal law referred to as Title X requires that landlords disclose all known lead hazards in housing to prospective tenants prior to lease signing. It also requires that tenants be provided specific information on lead-based paint hazards in housing. The law is very specific about what must be done and how records are to be kept. Every landlord should become familiar with the requirements of Title X. Federal investigators actively enforce this law in west Michigan. For more information, see the Disclosure Resources on the right side of this page.
The EPA requires the following of all landlords and contractors performing renovations, repairs, or painting that may disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes:
If your renovation activities are disturbing any area of more than six square feet inside a rental unit or 20 square feet outside, or if you are disturbing any paint on windows, you must be trained, certified, and use lead-safe work practices. To not do so is violation of federal law.
This regulation includes the management company or rental property owner’s in-house maintenance staff. If you or your staff do not want to be certified, it is recommended that all repairs subject to the rule be contracted out to certified firms.
For more information on lead-safe work practices, see the EPA's Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting and the EPA's Guide to Renovate Right. To learn more about the EPA Lead-Safe Certification, visit the the EPA Lead-Safe Certification page.
The City of Grand Rapids follows the International Property Maintenance Code; however, Grand Rapids also requires four primary actions regarding lead-based paint hazards:
The City requires that all rental property be registered. In addition, all rental property must be certified, which involves undergoing periodic inspections. The lead paint code items above are included as part of this Certification inspection. For more information on City of Grand Rapids Housing Code, call (616) 456-3053.
The Kent County Housing Regulation comes into play when there is a child with an elevated blood lead level living in a rental unit. In these cases, County regulation permits the Kent County Health Department to conduct inspections to uncover lead hazards and to order repairs. The County will then notify the property owner, giving him or her a short time to make repairs. If the repairs are not made, the property can be condemned for occupancy.
If a property is condemned, the resident family will need to vacate the unit immediately and the unit will need to remain vacant until all lead repairs are made and the property passes re-inspection. Condemnation is expensive, as it prohibits landlords from collecting rents until the hazards are repaired.
Michigan Public Act 434 permits civil penalties for landlords who knowingly rent units with lead hazards to families with children who have elevated blood-lead levels. Penalties can include jail time and fines.
Michigan housing law permits the local public health department to inspect rental units when there are suspected health hazards, including when a resident child is found to be lead poisoned. A landlord who has received notice of a governmental inspection and its findings of lead hazards should be concerned and immediately responsive to orders for repairs. PA 434 does not apply to risk assessment and inspections conducted by private contractors on behalf of the landlord.
PA 434 is used when landlords do not respond to orders to repair hazardous property. Your best defense, other than maintaining lead-safe properties, is a prompt response to all notices.
On occasion, tenants with lead-poisoned children will try to sue their landlord and/or his or her insurance company for damages related to their child's condition. The best way to protect yourself from these lawsuits is to eliminate lead hazards in your housing, be proactive with maintenance, and respond promptly to complaints. For more information on maintaining a lead-safe property, see the Lead Repairs page.
If you need further help dealing with lead and the law, always feel free to contact the Healthy Homes Coalition.
Lead-based paint, lead dust, and lead in the soil are the cause of nine out of ten childhood lead poisoning cases in Kent County, Michigan.
Disclosure Fact Sheet(418 KB)
Disclosure EPA FAQ(22 KB)
Disclosure Sample Form Seller(168 KB)
EPA Disclosure Booklet(1.5 MB)
EPA Disclosure Booklet Spanish(1.5 MB)
EPA Guide to Renovate Right(6.5 MB)
Kent County Housing Regulation(187 KB)
Michigan Public Act 434(37 KB)
Lead paint was used in homes before it was banned in 1978. A large percentage of homes built in Grand Rapids before that time have exisitng lead paint. The original owners or builders are likely long since gone, and the paint companies no longer make lead paint.
So, who is ultimately responsible for fixing lead?
Sign up here to join us for a free bus trip to Lansing! We will be meeting directly with Michigan state legislators to learn and to share concerns about childhood lead poisoning.
Free breakfast and lunch is included. Questions? Contact Talor Musil at 616-241-3300