Lead Poisoning Information for Tenants

Lead exposure can come from a number of sources, including drinking water and the soil around your house, but the most prevalent exposure in Rhode Island comes from lead-based paint and dust found in homes built before 1978. Although lead poisoning can cause serious health problems, especially in children younger than six years old, it is preventable.

All tenants have a right to safe, healthy, and clean housing. Landlords are required to correct known lead hazards on their properties and follow lead safe work practices for repairs. more Tenants are responsible for keeping their rental units clean and working with their landlords to address potential lead hazards.

What you should do

Keep your rental unit clean

Cleaning regularly will help you reduce your exposure to lead in paint, dust, and soil. Wipe your feet on a doormat or clean or remove shoes before entering your home to prevent tracking in soil that may contain lead.

Wet clean floors, stairs, and “friction areas” weekly. Friction areas are certain vulnerable surfaces of your home that include windows, stair treads, and sometimes doors and door frames, when they bind. Paint in these areas can produce lead dust even if it is not peeling. Use a mop or sponge with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a lead specific cleaning agent. Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dusty or dirty areas. more

Look for sources of lead in and around your rental unit

Lead can be found in many places in your home, such as in peeling and chipping lead paint, dust from lead paint, soil in your yard, tap water from lead pipes or lead solder, pottery, crystal, ceramic dishes, and toys.

Let your landlord know if you notice chipping or peeling paint in the interior of your home, or if you see damaged paint or bare soil on the property outside your home. Use the Housing Resources Commission Notice of Deteriorating Paint Conditions Spanish to report damaged paint or bare soil. Immediately wet clean any paint chips or dust.

Make sure your landlord hires licensed lead professionals

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 residential property, the Rhode Island Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule requires the work to be performed by a licensed Lead Hazard Control Firm. If work performed by your landlord will disturb the same amount of paint, he or she must also be licensed as a Lead Hazard Control Firm and Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator.

Receive educational materials and inspection reports from your landlord

When you sign your lease or before you move into your rental unit, your landlord will ask you to sign a disclosure form stating you received a copy of the Rhode Island version of the pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home and any reports or certifications that you have requested. You should receive:

  • A copy of the most recent lead inspection report for your rental unit. This should have either a current Certificate of Conformance or Presumptive Compliance from the Housing Resources Commission or a Certification of Lead-Safe or Lead-Free Status from the Department of Health. search for certificates
  • An HRC Notification of Deteriorating Paint Conditions form that you can use to report lead hazards in your rental unit.

If renovations, repairs, or painting are scheduled for your rental unit, the Lead Hazard Control Firm must give you a copy of the Rhode Island version of the EPA pamphlet Renovate Right. The firm will ask you to sign a form stating that you received a copy of this pamphlet.

Ask questions or file a complaint

If you do not find a compliance certificate or if it has expired, ask your landlord to have your rental unit inspected again.

If you report lead hazards in or around your rental property, your landlord cannot retaliate by forcing you to leave your apartment or raise your rent.

If your landlord fails to meet requirements for disclosing and correcting lead hazards, you may file a complaint by calling your local code enforcement or the Statewide Planning, Office of Healthy Housing.