You and your family have just moved into a new home, and everything seems to be going well. The landlord is great, the rent is low, and it’s in a good area. As you’re cleaning the house one day, you make a discovery: The ceiling has asbestos tiles or there is lead-based paint on the walls.
This was never mentioned to you before, so you may wonder: Can I sue if I find asbestos or lead in a house I’m renting?
Federal laws state that landlords are required to notify tenants renting for the first time, or renewing a lease, if they know of the presence of asbestos or lead-based paint in the home.
For the most part, you can expect a landlord to have taken care of the asbestos or lead prior to you moving in, but there are cases where the landlord may be able to leave asbestos in place. If the asbestos is not considered friable, meaning it isn’t broken or is otherwise secured so particles won’t be released into the air, it can still be present in the home when you move in.
In the case of asbestos that isn’t in a dangerous condition, the landlord must point out exactly where all asbestos is located and warn you not to disturb it. Any asbestos that could release fibers into the air must be safely removed before anyone can live in the home.
Before you sign a lease, the landlord must give you an official lead disclosure on the property, as well as a brochure with information on the effects of lead.
WHAT IF I FIND A DANGEROUS CONDITION?
If you find a dangerous condition that your landlord did not notify you about, notify your landlord and the Environmental Protection Agency (for lead) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (for asbestos) immediately.
The laws that require disclosure of hazardous conditions include penalties for landlords who don’t tell tenants about them.
In the case of lead, your landlord may face fines up to $11,000 per instance, a criminal fine of up to $11,000, and may owe you up to three times your actual damages.
The presence of either asbestos or lead is considered an unsafe living condition. If you find it in your home and you weren’t told about it before you moved in, you may be allowed to stop paying rent until the conditions are fixed, move out temporarily, or break your lease entirely without penalty. Your options vary by state, so consult with a licensed attorney to see what recourse you may have.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE BECOMES ILL OR INJURED BECAUSE OF ASBESTOS OR LEAD IN MY HOUSE?
If you or someone who lives with you gets injured or becomes ill and you can trace the cause to the asbestos or lead in your house, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other damages.
Because the circumstances surrounding the injury or illness can greatly impact whether you’re entitled to compensation and how much, it’s important to contact an attorney experienced in personal injury cases stemming from exposure to asbestos or lead as soon as you suspect the condition is tied to your living situation.
Your attorney can advise you on the next steps to take, whether that be to remain living where you are or move out, and what sort of medical assistance may be available for your condition.
Find Skilled Personal Injury Attorneys in Your State
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