Baltimore Property Management Education: Maryland Lead Paint Law

Welcome to our Baltimore Property Management Education Series! In this edition, we will cover Maryland Lead Paint Law, what a lead certificate is, how to get one, and how to register your rental property with the Maryland Department of Environment.

What is a lead certificate?

Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law requires owners of rental properties built before 1978 to register their units with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), distribute specific educational materials, and meet specific lead paint risk reduction standards at certain triggering events. Any property constructed before January 1, 1978, is required to have a lead certificate. Even if the property was gutted to the brick and rebuilt, you still need to have a lead certificate if the original structure was built before 1978.

Lead Based Paint Disclosure for Rental Property

If your property is required to have a lead certificate you must also provide the EPA Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home guide. This disclosure must be included in your lease packet and should be sent annually to your resident. Make sure that you have your new resident initial each page of the guide at lease signing!


Lead Paint Landlord Responsibility

There are four lead paint certificate types and they are indicated on the lead certificate:

  • Lead Free– For a property that was built in or before 1978 and has no lead paint on the interior or exterior surfaces.  The annual fee to the MDE still needs to be paid.
  • Limited Lead Free– For a property with no lead paint on interior surfaces, but has some traces on exterior surfaces such as a soffit.

    Baltimore Property Management: Maryland Lead Paint Law

    Example of a lead certificate

  • Full Risk– This a visual and dust inspection performed by a lead inspector and must be conducted before each new resident moves in.
  • Modified Risk– This type of certificate consists of a visual and dust inspection and is required if a child residing in the property has been lead poisoned or the landlord receives a Notice of Defect.

Modified Risk and Full Risk reduction are the most common lead certificates and require a new inspection with each new move-in.  Lead free free requires that the inspector use an XRF gun, and the only needs to performed once. limited lead free also requires that the inspector use an XRF gun but a visual inspection must be performed annually. The initial inspections for both lead free and limited free cost more upfront but can save in the long run because you do not need a new inspection at every turnover. Not every property will be a good fit for the lead free certificate status.

Registering with the Maryland Department of the Environment

Before you contact a lead inspector to schedule your inspection you need to have a tracking number. Tracking numbers are tied to the owner of the property while a certificate number is linked to both a tracking number and the property address. If you need to obtain a tracking number you should call the MDE to get this done. Once your tracking number is issued they will send you an email with the number and a portal login password. Make sure you keep all this information you can use it to renew your certificate online!


Property Management Baltimore, MD: Lead Certifications

Make sure your property is clean and ready for the lead inspector. The inspector will need access to the home, so provide keys and any alarm codes. The inspector will use dust wipes or an XRF gun. They will take what looks like a baby wipe and run it over window sills and areas about three feet in front of the window. They’ll also do a visual inspection, looking for paint that is chipped, cracked, alligatoring, or peeling on the inside and outside of the property.

 You’ll get a preliminary report that tells you the property looks good or that you need to do some repair work and the inspector will send the samples out to the lab. Most inspectors have a seven day turn around. Some offer expedited service if you need a tenant to move in right away. You can request quicker results for an expedited fee.

Maryland Lead Paint Law: When to Have a New Lead Test Done

Your lead certificate is an official and important piece of paper and you should keep the original in a safe place! Remember that full risk and modified risk lead certificates are only valid for as long as the tenant lives at your property  So, if the same tenant is in place for seven years, the certificate is valid for 7 years, however, if a tenant moves out after six months, you’ll need to get another lead certification when a new tenant moves in.

Choosing a Lead Test

The Lead Free and Lead Safe certifications are more in-depth. In these cases, an inspector must come to the property with an XRF (x-ray) gun and take samples of various parts of the property. Not all lead inspectors are able to issue lead free and limited lead free certs so make sure you ask them before the appointment! Inspectors will be looking for 10 micrograms of lead or less. If there is any more lead than that, you’ll need to encapsulate or replace the area that has a higher reading. That might mean replacing a door jamb or a window sill or having it ” Wrapped”.  The cost is also higher than a Full Risk or Modified Risk certification. What you choose to do depends on your investment goals and how long you plan to keep the property.


What happens if I do not have a lead certificate for my rental?

 The short answer is this is a big problem. The penalties for renting a property without a valid certification are stiff and can include a penalty of up to $20 per day until the Property is registered or renewed. Owners that fail to obtain an applicable passing lead paint risk reduction inspection certificate or distribute the lead-educational materials are subject to a penalty.  The penalty is up to $500 per day, per Affected Property, for each day of the violation until a risk reduction inspection certificate is filed with MDE, but not exceeding $100,000 total penalty.

Do you still have questions about Maryland’s lead paint law? Or maybe you need some help with property management? please contact us at HomeWorks property management.