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Lead Poisoning Information for Landlords

Most homes in Rhode Island were built before 1978. They are very likely to have lead-based paint. Lead paint and paint dust can harm young children's health. There are steps landlords are required to take to protect tenants from lead, including getting a Certificate of Lead Conformance. Learn more about what you should do and what properties are exempt.

Tenants also play a crucial role in minimizing lead exposure risks by maintaining the cleanliness of their living spaces, particularly from lead present in paint, dust, and soil.

Regulated Rental Properties and Exceptions

Most landlords who own rental units that were built before 1978 are required to follow state Lead Hazard Mitigation Regulations. Some rental properties are exempt (do not have to follow these regulations).
Exceptions to the regulations include:

  • Rental units with a Full Lead-Safe Certificate from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH),
  • Rental units with a current Conditional Lead-Safe Certificate from RIDOH,
  • Rental units with a Certifications of Lead-Free Status from RIDOH,
  • Temporary, seasonal housing rented to the same tenant for no more than 100 days in a calendar year, and
  • Housing specifically for residents aged 62 or older.

Overview of Requirements for Landlords

Learn more about specific steps in the “What you should do” section of this webpage. Landlords must prove their rental property is safe by getting a lead inspection. Landlords must keep tenants safe by informing them of any lead issues.

It is recommended that landlords take some a Lead Hazard Awareness and/or Remediation Class. Most Landlords start with the 3-Hour Lead Hazard Awareness class for landlords, which is available online.

Landlords should inspect their property for potential lead hazards every two years or when tenants change. Look for potential lead hazards such as damaged, chipping, and/or peeling paint. Pay extra attention to paint in areas prone to wear, such as windows, stair treads, and doors.

Keep the property safe by addressing any lead problems quickly, including problems reported by tenants.  Repair damaged paint and wet clean interior surfaces thoroughly. In many cases, you are required to hire a licensed Lead Renovation Firm for projects disturbing lead paint. MORE ABOUT RENOVATING, REPAIR, AND PAINTING

When maintenance and repair work is being done at a property, workers must follow lead-safe work practices and related regulations. MORE Landlords with staff must also meet the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

What you should do

ridoh logo Prove your rental property is safe – Get a lead certificate

Rental properties are required to have a lead certificate. The lead certificate is proof that the rental property is safe. There are different types of lead certificates. Most properties need what is called a Certificate of Lead Conformance.

To get a lead certificate, hire a licensed Lead Inspector to conduct a Lead Hazard Mitigation Inspection. If the inspection finds problems, you will need to fix them within 30 calendar days. If there are no problems, you will get a Certificate of Lead Conformance.  DETAILS ON WHO CAN PERFORM LEAD WORK 

Certificates of Lead Conformance need to be renewed at least every two years . If the tenant has changed, get a new certificate when the current certificate expires. If the tenant has stayed the same for two years or more, you can choose to inspect the property yourself instead of hiring a licensed inspector. After you inspect the property, apply for an Affidavit of Completion of Visual Inspection.

Landlords must keep the Certificates of Lead Conformance and any Affidavits of Completion of Visual Inspection for at least five years.

Follow these steps to apply for an Affidavit of Completion of Visual Inspection. Confirm the tenant has stayed the same for at least two years. Attend a three-hour Lead Hazard Awareness Seminar Class. Conduct a visual inspection to make sure the property is still safe. Complete an application and have it notarized within 30 calendar days of the inspection. The Affidavit can be downloaded in English and Spanish.

To submit the application, send the following documents to doh.leadprogram@health.ri.gov or to Rhode Island Department of Health; Lead Hazard Mitigation Program; 3 Capitol Hill, Room 206; Providence, RI 02908.

  • The notarized application
  • Evidence of completion of three-hour Lead Awareness Class,
  • A copy of the last Certificate of Lead Conformance, and
  • A copy of any previous Affidavits of Completion of Visual Inspection.

The Affidavit of Completion of Visual Inspection is valid for two years unless the tenant has changed. If the tenant changes, you need to hire a lead inspector and get a Certificate of Lead Conformance.

Property owners with ten or more residential rental units at one property may apply for a Certificate of Presumptive Compliance. This certificate covers all units in a multiunit complex. Use the Is My Property Eligible for Presumptive Compliance?   (Spanish) document to help you determine if you can apply. 

To apply for a Certificate of Presumptive Compliance, hire a licensed lead inspector to conduct a Lead Hazard Mitigation Inspection in at least 5% of the rental units. At least two units need to be inspected. Each unit that passes the inspection will receive a Certificate of Lead Conformance. To receive a Certificate of Presumptive Compliance for all of the units at the property, at least 90% of the inspected units must pass the inspection.

Complete the Presumptive Compliance Application and submit one Certificate of Lead Conformance for each unit that passed inspection as well as proof of corrections if previously cited for Minimum Housing Code Violations.

Certificates of Presumptive Compliance are valid for two years.

ridoh logo Tell tenants and buyers about lead

Under Rhode Island law, property owners of pre-1978 buildings must disclose known and potential lead hazards before selling or leasing their property. Compliance with the law involves:

  • Keep all lead inspection reports, certificates, and Affidavits of Completion of Visual Inspection. Provide these documents to prospective tenants and buyers.
  • Include a lead hazard warning and disclosure statement in all lease or sale agreements.
  • Distribute the Rhode Island version of EPA's "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home" pamphlet to tenants. Keep evidence of its distribution for three years or for the duration of the tenancy, whichever is longer.
  • Know that potential buyers have a 10-day window to perform lead inspections or assessments prior to finalizing the sales contract.

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

If you are doing work that will disturb lead paint, you must follow the Rhode Island Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule. Under this rule, landlords can perform spot removal. Projects that will disturb larger amounts of lead paint must be done by a licensed Lead Renovation Firm and professional.  

Additionally, if any exterior renovations involve disturbing lead paint, you must follow the  Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Regulation 250-RICR-120-05-24. This includes providing a seven-day written notice to neighbors within 50 feet of the property. Further details on lead paint removal can be found through the DEM.

ridoh logo Get lead paint liability insurance

Insurance must cover lead paint liability for landlords. To qualify, landlords that own a building built before 1978 need one of the following certificates: Certificate of Lead Conformance, Presumptive Compliance Certificate, Conditional Lead-Safe Certificate, or Full Lead-Safe Certificate.
Owners can lose eligibility for this insurance if they do not promptly fix lead problems found. After receiving a Notice of Violation, the owner has 90 days to fix all lead violations. After 90 days, the owner will not be eligible for this insurance coverage.

ridoh logo Follow the Property Maintenance Code

Landlords must follow the Rhode Island State Property Maintenance Code. This code aims to ensure all housing meets a minimum level of health and safety. It includes areas like, ventilation, sanitation, heating, and more.