Friday, August 26, 2011

Lead Disclosure Law is Limited

Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act


In a landlord-friendly decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department (with jurisdiction over Long Island, among other places) just ruled that minor children of tenants cannot sue landlords for injuries resulting from exposure to lead paint under this Act even if they take possession with the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy.

To be clear, we are talking about the law that requires disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards to a purchaser or lessee. A law that real estate agents should be very familiar with.

The Court held that the purpose of the act was to establish disclosure obligations triggered upon the lease or sale of property. The case is Brown v. Maple3, LLC and can be found by clicking here and the applicable law, RLPHRA, is 42 USC 4851. The clear rule is that infants residing with lessors are not within the zone of interest protected by the statute. The statute is about disclosure, not about strict liability for injuries.

Nonetheless, the Court did note that the door is not closed on the minor children and suggested that they instead pursue a claim under common law negligence. This means if you are injured in a residence as a result of lead exposure, your rights may be limited, but that you still do have rights and you should pursue them.