Home Inspectors Will Help Spread The News About The EPA RRP Rule
If home buyers aren’t aware of lead paint or the implications of buying a property that has or may have lead paint, a good home inspector may likely provide such knowledge.
In April this year I did a presentation about lead and the new RRP Rule for the New England Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI New England). Ironically, the meeting was scheduled for Earth Day, the same day the RRP rule went into effect. At this meeting I informed the inspectors not only about the required EPA RRP lead –safe work practices, but also about the health effects of lead and the required documentation that home owners should receive on completion of a renovation if the property was built prior to 1978. The inspectors were quick to connect the dots between identifying recent renovations and suggesting to the buyer that they ask the seller for a copy of these documents.
In my experience, home inspectors, particularly ASHI members, are typically a very detailed and knowledgeable group of professionals who seek to constantly increase their knowledge. In fact, to maintain their membership in ASHI, members are required to obtain continuing education credits. Home inspectors separate themselves from their completion through their knowledge and expertise and use these advantages to better serve their clients. Home buyers have home inspections performed prior to a purchase as a way to not only identify the condition of a home, but to also identify any health and or safety issues the home may have. Good home inspectors should have knowledge about the EPA RRP rule and will share this information with their clients.
Home inspectors will help cause compliance with the EPA RRP rule in a few ways. First, they will likely make home buyers aware of the fact that if built before 1978, the home may likely contain lead paint. The only way to verify if lead paint is present is to do a lead test. Inspectors can suggest their clients ask the seller if the home has been tested and if it has to obtain a copy of the required lead inspection report. Next, if the home does have lead, or it hasn’t been tested, inspectors should inform the buyers that any renovations to the home would need to be done using lead-safe work practices. This will have two effects. The first would be to let the buyer know that lead-safe work practices are required should they be planning any renovations after purchasing the home. Second, and most critical, would be to verify that any recent renovations done at the home were done using lead-safe work practices and to verify this by making sure who ever did the work did it in compliance with the EPA RRP requirements. Again, requesting a copy of the required documentation will be the best way a buyer can confirm how such renovations were completed.
Additionally, if the work was done by the home owners themselves, or perhaps was done illegally by a non-complaint contractor, the only way to find out if the work may have contaminated the home with lead would be to have the home tested by a licensed lead inspector. This is likely to create heartburn for both the seller and the realtors involved in the sale. Federal disclosure rules about lead require that if a home is tested, the required lead test report must be disclosed to any buyer or anyone planning to rent or lease the property. Failure to do so would result in serious legal liabilities for the seller and also for the realtor should the realtor be aware of the testing. If the seller refuses to allow testing, the buyer may just walk away from the purchase and has the legal right to do so.
As the above described scenarios take place during real estate transactions, I predict home owners, home buyers and realtors will all become more and more aware of the EPA RRP rule. Each, and for their own reasons, will likely become frustrated and or disappointed. All will share their frustration and disappointment with someone else. Its only human nature to do so. This will result in spreading the word about the EPA RRP rule and will contribute to the reporting of violations and the enforcement of the rule by either the EPA and or those states that have assumed administration and enforcement of the rule.