I know my home has a lead problem. How can I fix it?
The information below will help you figure out what steps to take, or what options you have, for fixing a lead problem in your home.
What do I do if I own my home?
First, when you’re buying a home, the previous owner should disclose to you if there is a lead problem. It should also be part of a home inspection.
If you’re buying a home on a land contract or rent-to-own contract, make sure you ask the seller about the home’s history of lead. If they don’t know, you can ask them to test for it and make fixing it part of your contract for buying the home.
You can also check with the local health department to see if there have ever been any reports of lead in the home you’re considering buying.
Since you have a right to know when buying a home if there is a history of lead, you also have a responsibility to tell future owners about it, as well. If you are selling your home, you need to disclose any history of lead and what you’ve done to fix it.
If you have lead in your home when you’re trying to sell it and haven’t fixed the problem, the person buying it may ask you to take care of it as part of your contract.
If you can’t afford to fix a lead problem in a home you own, there are programs that can actually help you get it abated for free. Contact your local health department to see if there are any local resources for this. Or, you can reach out to Ohio’s state health department -- there is a state-wide program to help low-income homeowners fix lead problems in their home.
What do I do if I rent my home?
As a renter, you have the right to a safe living environment. Having lead in your home can be a violation of that right. That means your landlord is responsible for fixing any lead problem in your home.
Ideally, you should find out about a home’s lead history before you rent. You can take a few steps to make sure the home you’re looking at is going to be safe for you and your family:
Ask your landlord if the home has ever been tested for lead, and ask to see the most recent results.
If there is a history of lead in the home that hasn’t been fixed, ask your landlord to fix it before you move in. Make sure you put this in writing.
Now, say you’ve been renting your home for a few months or even years before you find out that there is a lead problem. It’s still your landlord’s responsibility to fix the problem. You have some options.
Generally, you should have some kind of testing done to prove that there is a lead problem in the home. Check out this page to learn more about testing your home.
Once a test comes back positive for lead, you can ask your landlord to fix the problem and work them on doing that. A couple things to keep in mind:
As the property owner, they have to pay for any repairs to fix a lead problem. They can’t ask you to pay or pass the expense onto you. But they may be able to increase your rent, if fixing the problem increases the value of the property.
You may need to stay somewhere else temporarily while the problem is fixed. If possible, your landlord should provide you with another place to stay during this time (like another rental unit). If that’s not possible, you may need to look at a hotel or similar option and work out the arrangements with your landlord.
If your landlord refuses to fix the lead problem in your home, you have some options:
You can go through a process with the local court to deposit your rent with them until your landlord fixes the problem. This keeps you from being evicted, because you’re still paying rent, but you’re paying it to the court, instead of your landlord. This process is called “rent escrow,” and you need to follow specific steps to do it. The first step is to send your landlord a written notice (a letter, email, or text message) asking for the problem to be fixed and giving them a reasonable amount of time (like 30 days) to fix it. You can find more information about rent escrow in our Renters' Rights booklet, here.
You can also report your landlord to the local health department. They can face penalties, like fines, for not fixing a lead problem.
You can reach out to us at Legal Aid, as we may be able to help you. We can walk through your rights with you and help you figure out the best way to work with your landlord to fix the problem.