By Adriana Bosco and Katerina Tsoukalas-Heitkemper
Landlords are responsible for providing a safe, clean and healthy living environment for tenants. Thus, there are certain disclosure obligations landlords must abide by to their current and potential new tenants regarding environmental toxins and other dangerous conditions.
Landlords must comply with federally mandated lead disclosures. In 1992, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, commonly known as Title X, was passed. This federal law aims to reduce the number of lead poisoning victims in the United States and is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA enforces regulations related to Title X for rental property buildings that were constructed before 1978 unless they are certified lead-free by a state-accredited lead inspector.
Under Title X, before signing or renewing a lease or rental agreement, a landlord must disclose any known lead paint or lead-based hazards on the property. In addition to lead-based paint, other lead-based hazards include lead dust, lead soil, and lead in water. For example, if a landlord becomes aware of the presence of lead in the water service lines on the property, he must immediately disclose this to his current tenants and to prospective tenants.
It is important to note that landlords are not required to test for lead themselves, but once they become aware of any lead-based hazard on the property, they must disclose it immediately to current tenants or prospective tenants before they sign a lease.
In order to be in compliance with the EPA’s regulations for lead paint and lead-based hazards, landlords must do the following:
- Landlords must give prospective tenants an EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards. This can be satisfied by giving tenants the “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home” pamphlet from the EPA.
- Landlords must disclose any known information concerning lead-based paint or lead-based hazards pertaining to the building. These issues must be revealed before a tenant renews or signs a new lease.
- Landlords must include a lead disclosure attachment to the lease, that includes a “Lead Warning Statement.” This can also be language inserted in the lease. It must confirm that the landlord has complied with all of the notification requirements from the EPA.
- Landlords must give tenants copies of any reports of lead testing that has been completed on the property. This requirement applies even if the tests show no lead.
Illinois landlords must also comply with the radon contamination or radon hazards required by state law. Radon is an odorless, radioactive and carcinogenic gas that seeps out of the Earth. Illinois state law requires landlords to disclose the presence of radon contamination or radon hazards in rental units. However, this only applies to rental units on the second floor or below. Illinois landlords are not required to conduct radon testing themselves. However, any knowledge of the presence of radon contamination must be disclosed to both current and prospective tenants. Radon hazard disclosure is not required, however, if remediation has been completed to achieve safe radon levels. To comply with radon contamination disclosures, landlords must do the following:
- Landlords must provide tenants with a pamphlet issued by the State of Illinois about the dangers of radon which encourages the tenant to have a radon test performed.
- If radon has previously been detected in the rental unit, the landlord must disclose this to potential tenants before they sign their lease.
- When a test detects radon, the landlord must disclose this to all tenants.
Noncompliance with either the federally-mandated lead disclosures or the state-mandated radon disclosures may result in legal repercussions or monetary penalties.
If you are a landlord and are concerned about your disclosure obligations, whether it be a lead-based hazard or radon contamination, we are here to help. For more information about this article, contact Katerina Tsoukalas-Heitkemper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Authors
Adriana Bosco is the main author of this article and serves as a law clerk at Tressler LLP. She is a third-year law student at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law where she is a member of UIC Law Review and serves as a staff editor. In addition, she is an Associate Justice on the Moot Court Honors Council Executive Board. She looks forward to continuing her legal career at Tressler LLP, which includes working closely with the HOA department attorneys.
Katerina Tsoukalas-Heitkemper edited this article and is a partner and Co-Chair of the HOA/Condominium & Common Interest Community Association Law practice. Her practice includes extensive experience and deep knowledge of all areas of civil litigation, collections, bankruptcy and foreclosures, including a deep knowledge of those laws pertaining to condominiums and common interest community associations. She has expertise in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions (eviction actions; sales and purchases and litigation); drafting/revising/translating corporate documents; extensive knowledge of both creditor and bankruptcy proceedings; and legal representation of not-for-profit and for-profit corporations.