New York Real Property Law §235-b requires landlords to provide an implied warranty of habitability, which means they must make sure that a rental dwelling is fit for human habitation and that the occupants of the dwellings are not subjected to any conditions which would be dangerous, hazardous, or detrimental to their life, health, and safety. Deteriorated lead paint in a home clearly poses a danger to children, and a tenant can seek relief in Housing Court and possibly obtain rent abatement (no rent payments due) while lead paint violations are outstanding. However, any claim for personal injuries arising from defective and dangerous conditions, such as deteriorated lead-based paint, must be brought in New York State Supreme Court, and requires legal assistance.
Owners of multiple dwellings or buildings containing three or more rental units have additional responsibilities under New York's Multiple Residence and Multiple Dwelling Laws to keep these properties in good repair and free of conditions dangerous to life or health. Property owners cannot delegate these duties to tenants or to other third parties. Failure to maintain these properties in accordance with the requirements of the law are viewed as negligent conduct if the property owner or his agent knows about the dangerous condition or defect.
If a building was built before 1978, the owner is required to provide specific disclosures to tenants about the possible or known presence of lead-based paint under the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, 42 U.S.C. §§4851-4856. At the time of leasing, tenants must be provided with and acknowledge that they have received written notice that the property to be rented was built before 1978 and may have lead paint that could be dangerous to children.
Landlords must also give tenants a pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Landlords must also tell their tenants whether or not the landlord is aware of any known lead paint hazards (such as from a previous inspection) and provide tenants with records documenting the location of known leaded paint.
Visit the EPA's website at www.epa.gov/lead/ and click on Rules and Regulations for more information about the federal disclosure law.
The Lead Poisoning Prevention Act in New York State provides for testing of lead in the blood of children and pregnant women. EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 have their firm certified by EPA (or an EPA authorized state), use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers and follow lead-safe work practices.