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by Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI

Landlords in several areas of the Northeast are reporting that when they are showing rental homes to clients with children staying in “domestic violence” shelters, they are being required to have the agency test for lead.

While this appears like a “good idea” on it’s face because landlords do want to have information on their rental property and do want to provide safe properties for their residents, the ultimate use of this testing information is suspect.

As government funding for these types of agencies is subject to reductions in grant funding, they have combined their focus and overhead costs to spread their limited funding dollars.

Landlords in states with “source of income” as a protected class may have no option in this regard if the rental applicant screens well; however, if, after submitting their completed application, the prospect does not meet minimum screening criteria– income, credit, past landlord, etc.,– then this should certainly come into the discussion well BEFORE an agency is invited into the property to conduct such testing.

Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI, is the owner/broker of Gibson Management Group, Ltd., a full-service property management company offering 45 years of professional property management services for investment property owners in Central Virginia“Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene counties. Her firms website is and she blogs at

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  • Lead is only a problem when it enters the human body. Even the EPA and HUD do not require complete removal of lead based paint (LBP) from a property if it is properly stablized or encapsulated to prevent the formation of lead dust or paint chips. The presence of LBP dust or chips is of course an active hazard that must be corrected.

    My first concern is that some local government agencies will demand complete removal of all LBP, even if properly stabilized or encapsulated so that there is no active hazard, or they will attempt to close a rental property down.

    My second concern is the long-standing requirement to disclose the known presence of LBP to potential tenants or buyers. This creates a stigma on a property, reducing the rental value and sale value. As landlords, if we do not have knowledge of the presence of LBP, we can specifically state that; but if we do know about it, we must disclose it even if it is not an active hazard.

    As an EPA Certified Renovator, rather than test for lead and be required to disclose it, I simply treat all repair, renovation, and painting activities as if there is lead present. I take appropriate EPA approved precautions to protect workers and residents, preventing the spread of any dust or paint chips that might contain lead and properly cleaning the work site. If an active lead hazard did exist, it has been controlled using EPA approved methods, and I can still honestly say I don’t know if there is LBP present.

  • Not sure I follow the logic behind testing for “lead”, because they were in a shelter? Seems this creates a “way out” in denying a renter, thought we as a society would support a better environment for children that are innocent.

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