From the MAR Legal Hotline: How To Handle a Rental Property With Unknown Lead Status

Q. How should an agent handle an inquiry for a rental property that has an unknown lead status?

A. With some of the oldest housing stock in the country, it is no surprise that there are a significant number of properties in the Commonwealth that have not been tested for lead. A property’s lead status cannot be used as a basis for denying a rental application from an otherwise qualified tenant with a child under the age of six. Additionally, landlords who fail to provide a lead-safe living environment may be found strictly liable in the event a child becomes lead poisoned while residing in that property.

All prospective tenants should be received and processed in a uniform manner. A prospective tenant inquiring about the property’s lead status in an initial inquiry should be invited to view the property and submit an application if they are interested.

If their application is accepted, the landlord should have the property tested and may delay the tenancy for up to 30 days to bring the property into lead compliance, if necessary. The burden of testing and bringing a property into compliance should not be placed on the tenant.

MAR has received reports of similar inquiries occurring from Fair Housing Testers. Regardless of whether such an inquiry comes from a Tester or an actual prospective tenant, failure to adhere to the Fair Housing Laws may result in the filing of a complaint. If you’ve received notice of a complaint, contact your errors and omissions insurance provider without delay to ensure compliance with any notice requirements of the policy.