Tenants

Apartments

Tenants living in houses or apartments built before 1978 must be given information before they sign a lease informing them about all known lead hazards in a home or apartment. Tenants must also be given educational materials about lead. This information is required by federal law.

Tenants have the right to live in a safe and clean home. To learn more about tenants' rights, view the Metropolitan Tenants Organization presentation.

Right of inspection

Federal law: Tenants living in federally owned or subsidized housing have a right to live in an environment free of lead hazards. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Lead-Safe Housing Rule requires the inspection and removal of all lead hazards in housing units regulated under this rule.

Illinois state law: Under Illinois Rules, any home with a child under 6 years old in residence must be inspected for lead if the child has:

  • a blood lead level at or above 20 µg/dL, or
  • three blood lead levels in a row of 15–19 µg/dL, or
  • a single confirmed blood lead level at or above 10 µg/dL and the child's physician requests an investigation.

An inspection is also required when a child less than three years of age has a single confirmed blood lead level at or above 10 µg/dL.

If a lead hazard exists, IDPH or the local health department serves a mitigation notice on the property owner. This notice tells the owner that he or she is required to fix the lead hazard, and how long he or she has to complete it. The property owner is required to notify all tenants of the hazard by posting a notice of lead hazards in common areas of the building.

Chicago law: Chicago's local law authorizes representatives of the City of Chicago to inspect homes and take samples for lead testing to ensure the safety of children living in the building. The City may apply for a warrant if an owner is unwilling to have the property tested for lead.

Also, Chicago defines lead poisoning as a blood lead level of 5 µg/dL or higher. Therefore, in Chicago a test result of 5 µg/dL or higher could trigger a home lead inspection by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Rights upon moving in

Federal law requires that landlords and homeowners tell prospective tenants and buyers about any known lead hazards before they agree to rent or buy the property. This law only applies to houses built before 1978. This law does not require homeowners or landlords to inspect the property, they are only required to provide educational materials and a disclosure form that states that lead hazards may exist and where known, do exist.

Cover of Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home

Regardless of the existence of lead hazards, property owners are required by that same law to provide a purchaser or lessee with a lead hazard information pamphlet. In most cases this will be the EPA pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.

Chicago law: In Chicago, landlords also must provide all tenants with a written summary of the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance. The law requires landlords or their agents to tell their tenants in writing if the unit they live in violated any Chicago housing codes within the past year. This notification must happen before any lease or lease renewal is signed.

Notifying landlords about possible lead in the home

All tenants should tell their landlords as soon as they see signs of lead hazards. Some of these signs can include any chipping, peeling, or flaking paint.

Federal law: In those federally owned or assisted housing units that require ongoing lead-based paint maintenance, federal law requires property owners to give tenants a notice asking them to report deteriorated paint or failed encapsulation.

Chicago law: In Chicago, tenants are required by law to give landlords reasonable access to their dwelling units so that landlords do all that is required of them by law to prevent lead hazards. Tenants have a responsibility to tell their landlord in writing of any problems with their housing.

Right of relocation during lead hazard control

Federal law: Homes that are federally owned or receive any federal assistance (for example, Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance or public housing) must follow the federal regulations in HUD's Lead-Safe Housing Rule. For an overview of its requirements, please see HUD's Summary of the Lead-Safe Housing Rule Requirements website.

Illinois law: According to the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Code, "If the mitigation activities…will not result in protection of a child, or are not practical, any child or children shall be removed to a lead-safe dwelling unit until abatement is completed. Children, pregnant women, unprotected workers, non-workers, and pets are not permitted to enter the worksite. However, if the worksite is small and can be sealed off from the rest of the unit, then the tenants can still stay in the unit overnight.

What to do if a landlord won't address a lead problem

Federal law: Tenants who do not feel that their property owner/manager is meeting the requirements of federal law, or any of the city or state laws discussed in this section should contact their local or state public health department or local housing authority.

Chicago law: In Chicago, all housing complaints should be reported by dialing 311. In addition, there are several organizations in the Chicago area that are devoted to helping tenants get access to affordable and safe housing. For example, the Center for Conflict Resolution provides free Landlord/Tenant mediation through its Resources for Apartment Dispute Resolution. For more information, call 312-922-6464. The Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) works on projects that help tenants exercise their rights. MTO operates a tenants' rights hotline that can be reached by calling 312-292-4988.

Information for tenants doing their own remodeling

It is very important to check with the landlord or property manager before starting any remodeling work. It is strongly recommended that tenants who wish to remodel or repaint their unit hire an EPA certified contractor. Tenants planning to do remodeling or repainting projects themselves should follow basic lead-safe work practices.

Rights before moving in

Illinois and Federal law require that landlords and homeowners tell prospective tenants and buyers about any known lead hazards before they agree to rent or buy the property. This law only applies to houses built before 1978. This law does not require homeowners or landlords to inspect the property, only to provide educational materials and a disclosure form that states that lead hazards may exist and where known, do exist. Regardless of the existence of lead hazards, property owners are required by that same law to provide a purchaser or lessee with a lead hazard information pamphlet. In most cases this will be the EPA pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.

In Chicago, landlords also must provide tenants with a written summary of the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance. The law requires landlords or their agents to tell their tenants in writing if the unit they live in or are considering renting violated any Chicago housing codes within the past year. This notification must happen before any lease or lease renewal is signed.

| More
Additional information for…
Property owners
  • The do's and don'ts of home renovation
  • What to look for in a lead contractor
  • How to find a lead contractor
  • Required disclosures to tenants
Tenants
  • Right of inspection
  • Right of notification of lead hazards
  • Notifying landlords about possible lead in homes
  • If a landlord won't address a lead hazard
Childcare providers
  • Childcare provider responsibilities
  • Educational information
© 2005–2017 Lead Safe Illinois. All rights reserved.