Lead-Based Paint

Lead is a poison often found in old paint. Lead poisoning can cause behavior  and learning problems in young children. Peeling lead-based paint is the most common cause of childhood lead poisoning. NYC banned lead-based paint in 1960, but older buildings may still contain it. Lead dust from peeling paint lands on household surfaces and toys. When children play and put their hands and toys in their mouths they can swallow lead dust. Property owners must identify and remediate lead-based paint hazards, in the apartments where there are young children, using trained workers and safe work practices. 

Lead-based paint hazards are presumed to exist if:

  • The building was built before 1960 (or between 1960 and 1978 if the owner knows that there is lead-based paint)
  • The building has three or more apartments
  • A child under the age of six lives in the apartment

If you live in a building with three or more apartments and you have a child under the age of 6, HPD will conduct an inspection for lead-based paint if an Inspector is in your apartment for any reason.

Owners of such buildings must ask tenants in writing, annually, whether children under the age of six are in residence. If so, owners must visually inspect the apartments and common areas for lead-based paint hazards once a year. Property owners can hire qualified companies to conduct testing to determine whether there is lead-based paint in their buildings and work proactively to reduce the liability associated with lead-based paint. Lead-based paint violations must be repaired by trained workers using safe work practices, within the time frames specified by law and HPD rules. If owners can show that there is no lead paint in the building and complete all of the requirements for an Exemption from HPD, then the annua requirement for obtaining information from the tenant and conducting visual inspections can be waived.

Tenants should report peeling paint in an apartment to the landlord. If the landlord does not fix peeling paint or if work is being done in an unsafe manner (for example, creating dust that is not being contained), tenants should call 311. Tenants may also call 311 to learn how to prevent lead poisoning, find out where to get their children tested, find information about pregnancy and lead, or request brochures and materials on lead poisoning prevention.

Tenants are required to: 

  • Fill out and return the Annual Notice regarding lead-based paint from the landlord.
  • Notify the landlord in writing if a child under the age of 6 comes to live with you or if you have a baby.
For safety, tenants should: 
  • Wash floors, window sills, hands, toys, and pacifiers often.
  • Remind your doctor to test children for lead poisoning at ages one and two. 

Inspections for Lead-Based Paint
If you file a complaint and you have a child under the age of six in a building with three or more units, HPD will attempt to schedule an appointment with you to conduct the lead-based paint inspection. If, when you file your complaint, you do not indicate you have a child under six but the Inspector confirms that a child under six lives in the apartment at the time of the inspection, HPD will conduct a preliminary lead-based paint survey and, if peeling paint is found, conduct a second inspection to confirm the presence of lead-based paint. A lead-based paint inspection requires the Inspector to test the paint using an x-ray fluorescence machine, which measures the lead content in the paint. The Inspector must test any painted surface that has peeling paint and all windows and doors.

Violations will be issued if a lead-based paint hazard is identified and the property owner will be advised about how to correct the condition safely. If the property owner fails to address the lead-based paint condition, HPD will attempt to do so and bill the property owner for the work.

If you are a tenant in a one-family or two-family home, have a child under six and have peeling paint conditions, you can also call 311 or go to 311ONLINE and the Health Department will respond.

Unsafe Work Complaint
The Health Department responds to all complaints of unsafe work practices creating a potential lead dust hazard. Call 311 to report unsafe work.

Additional resources