Lead paint in homes and apartments can be a very serious health issue if certain precautions aren’t taken. When looking at residences built before 1978 or apartment buildings, keep in mind the paint, varnish or other coatings and material on and in them could contain lead. If the building was built after 1978, none of this applies unless the building used recycled materials from pre-’78.
If you become interested in and want to purchase, the agent will provide a Seller Disclosure. This will inform you if the owner has any records from having tested for the presence of lead.
You, as a buyer, will be given an opportunity to test for lead as well. Because of the potential danger, especially to pregnant women or children, you should take the time to read and understand the pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home and Lead Hazards in Housing. It is essential that painted surfaces, especially the window wells and peeling surfaces be treated in a certain way to minimize spreading it around. Owners of older homes should use what are referred to as Essential Maintenance Practices (EMP) for dealing with any lead containing surface. For an overview of these practices, see Essential Maintenance Practices.pdf. Your agent can go over the forms and provide information on lead and how to deal with it in older homes.
There are more regulations for landlords. Buyers and tenants will receive a copy of the pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home as well as a disclosure about the results of any lead tests. Each unit must contain a poster telling tenants who to call if they spot peeling paint. For an overview of the state and federal laws, go to the member resource section of the Vermont Apartment Owners Association. For the poster click here. Another resource is the Vermont Department of Health’s website at: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/lead/lead_property.aspx
If you purchase an apartment building, Essential Maintenance Practices <link to above> should be practiced by the current owner. At closing, you will receive a statement about the current owner’s compliance with the lead paint laws and his EMPs. Courses on EMP for new landlords are currently available free.
Older homes are filled with character and charm often missing in newer homes. Just keep in mind that you need to be aware of lead paint and take certain precautions, especially during renovations, remodeling or maintenance of the building. And you always have the right to test for lead prior to purchasing.