I found a very interesting article this past week that sparked this week’s topic. Did you know that last week was National Poison Prevention Week—March 20-26, 2011? During the week homeowners were urged in print and electronic media to evaluate their windows and make healthy living changes.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the routine opening and closing of windows in homes built prior to 1978 can disturb lead-based paint around the windows, causing paint dust and chips to be released into the air. These lead particles are so potentially dangerous that the EPA now requires contractors to become trained and certified before they can perform any renovation, repair or painting projects that may have previously applied lead-based paint.
Lead based Paint – The EPA – Real Estate – Our Responsibilities
The EPA is dead serious about enforcement of the regulations concerning lead base paint disclosure. These regs specifically make the real estate agents in a transaction liable along with the seller(s) if disclosure is not properly handled. Don’t be put out of business by the stiff fines that are levied just for not properly documenting the disclosure process as it relates to lead base paint in properties for sale.
1. Use the Appropriate Form
2. Deliver the Documents in a Timely Manner
3. You Have Responsibility as a Buyer Agent
Just remember that the government wants it done and will go after anyone they think erred in the process. If you don’t have that pamphlet and the completed disclosure in the hands of your buyers, don’t get them to sign a purchase contract. You can print the pamphlet out on 8 & 1/2″ x 11″ paper and give it to your buyers yourself. You can print it out from here:
4. If You’re the Sellers’ Agent – Put this Stuff in the Home
It would seem efficient and prudent to have the properly filled out and signed disclosure form and the pamphlet in multiples in the home. When agents show it, if there’s interest, they can take a copy with them.However, to protect yourself and your seller, you should require that you have a copy of the form signed and date/time stamped BEFORE the date and time on the purchase contract before you present it to your seller. Do not bind the buyers without meeting these requirements. An incomplete form or form with errors does not meet requirements either.
5. Get it Right to Avoid These Penalties
Each violation can be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000. Just think if you had a missing check mark or signature AND you delivered it after the buyers were bound to the contract. That’s $20,000 right there. It’s worse yet if it’s determined that you “knowingly or willfully” violated the regulations. That’s criminal and could result in $10,000/day of violation and/or one year in prison.
THEN, if the buyers sue and win, violators could be subject to pay three times the damages suffered.
One last reminder: Record keeping – Sellers/sellers agents and lessors/lessors agents must retain a copy of the disclosures for no less than three years from the date of sale or the date the leasing period begins.