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Lead Poisoning: Information for Tenants

In New York City, tenants have certain legal rights and responsibilities to help keep their family safe from lead exposure at home. Tenants are not responsible for doing repairs themselves, but they do need to alert building owners of potentially dangerous conditions.

Tenants' Rights

Your building owner is required to safely fix lead paint hazards if there is a child 5 years or younger living in the home, or regularly spending 10 or more hours there per week. Hazards owners must fix include peeling, chipping or cracked paint.

If your home has damaged or peeling paint, report it to your building owner. If they do not fix the problem, or if you think the work is not being done safely, call 311.

You can also request a free home assessment for lead hazards if all of the following are true:

  • Your building was built before 1960 (or if the building was built between 1960 and 1978 and the owner knows the building has lead paint).
  • Your building has three or more apartments.
  • A child 5 years or younger lives in your apartment or regularly spends 10 or more hours a week there.

If your home meets these conditions, call 311

Your building owner must use safe work practices and trained workers to fix a lead paint hazard, or when doing repair work that disturbs lead paint.

To follow safe work practices, building owners must:

  • Never dry scrape or dry sand lead paint. This creates harmful lead dust.
  • Post warning signs around the work area.
  • Tell tenants to stay out of the work area.
  • Clean the work area with wet mops and HEPA vacuums every day and after the work is done.
  • Remove all home items that can be moved out of the work area.
  • Cover furniture that cannot be moved.
  • Seal floors, doors and other openings with plastic and waterproof tape.
  • Hire a professional to check lead dust levels after the clean-up is completed.

Tenants' Responsibilities

You must fill out and return the Annual Notice form (PDF) [Español] that you receive from your building owner by February 15 of each year. This form tells your building owner if any children 5 years or younger live in the apartment, or regularly spend 10 or more hours there per week. There is also information on the form about window guard safety.

You should also:

  • Report peeling or damaged paint to your building owner.
  • Notify your building owner if you have a baby, or if a child 5 years or younger comes to live with you during the year.
  • Wash floors, window sills, hands, toys and pacifiers often.
  • Request a free Lead in Drinking Water Test Kit online, or by calling 311.

Additional Resources

More Information