Tenants are entitled to a safe living space and have the right to be informed of dangerous conditions on the property, such as the presence of lead paint. In Maryland, there is a particularly high risk of encountering lead-based paint in a home or apartment building because many of these structures were built before 1978. If a landlord fails to disclose the presence of lead paint or does not take the proper steps to remove it, you may be able to take legal action. If you or a loved one is suffering from lead paint exposure, it is vital to contact the trusted attorneys at Goldberg Finnegan to initiate a claim against the responsible party. We can explain what rights you have, what responsibilities the landlord has and what to do moving forward.
Landlord’s Responsibilities Before Tenants Move In
The landlord of any rental property has certain responsibilities, such as repairing, maintaining and removing hazards to help ensure the health of his or her tenants. When it comes to properties with lead paint, landlords must do the following before you move in:
- Register with the Maryland Department of the Environment or MDE within 30 days of acquisition of the property and renew the registration before December 31st every year
- Distribute the Notice of Tenants Rights and the brochure “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” to all tenants as well as a copy of the lead inspection certificate for the apartment before or after a tenant moves in
- Meet all necessary risk reduction standards through an inspection by an MDE-accredited inspector
- Keep a copy of the inspection certification and provide one to the tenant
- Use trained and skilled workers along with accredited contract workers and supervisors to meet the risk reduction standards
If the property is a hotel, motel, seasonal or transient location, it is exempt from these requirements. If a property already has a lead-free or limited lead-free certificate, the landlord does not need to follow other inspection guidelines.
How to Inform Your Landlord About Peeling Paint or Structural Defects
When a tenant discovers structural defects in a rental home or peeling paint on the inside or outside of the property, it is important to inform the landlord of these issues. The tenant must provide a notice in writing to the landlord. You can send a Notice of Defect Form. This should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested or hand delivered to the property owner. Receipt of the notice will compel the landlord to satisfy the current modified risk reduction standard within a 30-day period.
What to Do If Your Landlord Fails to Make Repairs
There are four possible actions to take if the landlord does not comply with the necessary MDE requirements. These include the following:
- Make a Referral – When the tenant provides the Notice of Defect and no repairs occur, the tenant can refer the matter to the MDE’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program through the local number and provide a copy of the Notice of Defect.
- Rent Escrow – Tenants have the right to file a Complaint for Rent Escrow with the county District Court requesting the court to establish an escrow account where the tenant can pay rent, instead of continuing to make payments to the landlord. This can provide an incentive to make the repairs.
- Rent Protection – If the landlord does not comply with the risk reduction inspection, failure to pay rent complaints can become invalid. This means the tenant’s complaint about failure to pay rent will be dismissed.
- Retaliatory Eviction – The state of Maryland makes any retaliation illegal for anything other than failure to pay rent when the landlord has a current inspection certificate. Retaliation could include eviction or raising your rent.
Contact Goldberg Finnegan Today for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love was exposed to lead paint, you should contact a Silver Spring personal injury attorney at Goldberg Finnegan so we can review your case. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages from missed time at work, and pain and suffering.
Our consultations are free and always confidential. We understand how serious lead poisoning is and are prepared to help you bring a claim forward against the responsible party. There are no upfront legal fees unless we help you obtain adequate compensation for your case.