Is my landlord legally responsible for making sure my child doesn't become lead-poisoned while we live in the rental property?

Yes. Your landlord is required to follow the law and maintain your apartment or rental home in a safe condition - which means that your children should be exposed to zero lead. In San Francisco, for example, the San Francisco Health Code, Article 11, applies to all housing in San Francisco. Section 581(B)(10) prohibits lead hazards in any housing. The San Francisco Department of Public Health enforces the city and county's code. Inspectors from the Department of Public Health are entitled to presume that any paint on a building built prior to 1979 is lead-based, and may issue citations for chipped, or peeling paint based on their visual inspection of the building. Landlords are required to provide housing free of lead hazards. The San Francisco Health Code, Article 26, Section 1603(w), defines a lead hazard as “Any condition that exposes children to lead from any source, including but not limited to lead contaminated water, lead-contaminated dust (dust lead hazard), lead contaminated soil (soil-lead hazard), and paint-lead hazard in dwelling units or other locations”. When the inspectors find lead hazards, they will require the landlord to fix them using properly trained, state-certified workers. The city may require the landlord to provide the tenant with money to live elsewhere while the repairs are being made, too. San Francisco Building Code Section 3407 requires that all contractors use "lead safe work practices" for any activity which disturbs lead paint, and this would include repairing those apartments and rental homes that are cited for lead hazards. State law, CCR Title 17, Chapter 6, requires property owners of public and residential buildings to hire only lead-certified contractors to do work that reduces lead hazards. Pursuant to Title 17, any deteriorated (flaking, chalking, chipping, peeling) lead-based paint is a hazard. Federal law, 24 CFR Part 35 and 40 CFR Part 745 require all landlords to tell tenants both their knowledge of lead paint or lead paint hazards before a lease is effective, and to provide tenants with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Booklet entitled "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your House". If the landlord violated these laws, and your child was lead-poisoned, you may have the right to bring a lawsuit against the landlord and/or any of his contractors who created the lead hazard which poisoned your child. Contact the Keane Law Firm now to talk about it.
Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer