Lead Poisoning Information for Landlords

More than 70% of Rhode Island's housing has potential lead hazards that can poison children. The most prevalent lead exposure in Rhode Island comes from lead-based paint and paint dust found in residences built before 1978.

Landlords are required to disclose lead hazards and maintain their properties to keep them safe. This includes correcting damaged, chipping or flaking paint immediately and following lead safe work practices for repairs. more Note that landlords with employees must also follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

Tenants are responsible for keeping their rental units clean to reduce exposure to lead in paint, dust, and soil. more

What you should do

Disclose lead hazards to tenants and buyers

Rhode Island law requires owners of properties built before 1978 to disclose information about known and potential lead exposure hazards before the sale or lease of residential property. To comply with the law:

  • Keep copies of all lead inspection reports and certifications for as long as you own your property and provide copies to potential buyers.
  • Include a lead warning and disclosure statement in the lease or sales contract. sample
  • Provide tenants with copies of the Rhode Island version of the EPA pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home and keep written proof of the booklet's distribution for three years.
  • Know that potential buyers have a 10-day period to conduct a lead inspection or risk assessment before the sales contract takes effect.

Hire licensed lead professionals when you renovate, repair, or paint your property

Follow the Rhode Island Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule when applicable. This Rule applies to landlords working on their own properties, because the EPA considers rent to be a form of compensation. Landlords who wish to perform work regulated by the RRP Rule themselves must get certified  as a Lead Renovator and licensed as a  Lead Renovation Firm. more

If renovations will disturb exterior paint, Department of Environmental Management Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 24 requires you to give neighbors living within 50 feet of your home five days written notice of the work.

Get lead paint liability insurance

The Rhode Island Lead Mitigation Act requires insurance companies to provide lead paint liability insurance to owners of pre-1978 residential rental properties that are in compliance with the Housing Resources Commission Lead Mitigation Regulations.

To show compliance with these regulations, landlords must receive a Certificate of Conformance or Presumptive Compliance from the HRC or a Certificate of Lead-Safe or Lead-Free Status from the Department of Health. These are issued by Rhode Island Certified Environmental Lead Inspectors or Technicians after property inspections.

Property owners who receive a Notice of Violation from the Department of Health and do not correct all lead violations within 90 days are not eligible for this coverage.

While owner-occupied two- and three-family homes are exempt from HRC Regulations, one of the above certificates is still required for insurance coverage.

Follow the Property Maintenance Code

Landlords must follow the Rhode Island State Property Maintenance Code, which regulates the minimum housing maintenance standards for basic equipment, light, ventilation, space, heating, sanitation, and protection from the elements. The Property Maintenance Code went into effect statewide on July 1, 2010. In order to ensure public access, reference copies are also available in the Rhode Island State Library.

Housing Resources Commission Lead Mitigation Regulations

Most landlords who own rental units that were built before 1978 are required to follow state Lead Mitigation Regulations for lead hazard awareness training, property inspections, and repairs. Note that owner-occupied two- and three-family homes and properties with current Certifications of Lead-Safe or Lead-Free Status from the Department of Health are exempt from these regulations. To comply with regulations:

Take a lead hazard awareness class

Classes are offered online or in person at locations across the state.

Visually inspect your property and correct lead hazards

Visually inspect your property at least every 2 years or at tenant turnover. Look for potential lead hazards such damaged paint, peeling or chipping paint on friction surfaces such as windows, stair treads, and doors, and bare soil within five feet of your property.

Promptly respond to any hazards you find and to tenants' reports of potential lead hazards. Cover bare soil within five feet of any painted structure on your lot. Correct damaged paint and wet clean interior surfaces. If renovation, repair, or painting will disturb six square feet or more of paint per room on the interior or 20 square feet or more of paint on the exterior of a pre-1978 house or child-occupied facility, you are required to hire a licensed Lead Hazard Control Firm. more

Have your property inspected for lead hazards

Landlords are required to hire a Certified Environmental Lead Inspector to conduct an Independent Clearance Inspection every two years or at tenant turnover, whichever period is longer. more

If your property passes inspection, you will receive an HRC Certificate of Conformance from the inspector or technician. Even if you are licensed as a Certified Environmental Lead Inspector, you cannot inspect your own property.

If you have the same tenants after two years, you may conduct a visual inspection of your property without hiring a licensed inspector.

Provide copies of inspection reports, certificates, and notice forms

  • Provide Lead Inspectors with a copy of your Lead Hazard Awareness Training certificate.
  • Provide tenants with copies of Certificates of Conformance or Presumptive Compliance and Independent Clearance Inspections or Affidavits of Completion from visual inspections.