Leaded Paint in Your Rental?

Suspect there’s leaded paint in the home you rent?

You’ve found a great place to move into, and despite all the other applicants, you got it! 

Moving day comes around and once you settle in, you start to notice the paint is flaking, or worse still chalking and getting on your child’s hands when they touch it… and start wondering if the paint contains lead.

leaded paint - Volcano Art Prize Entry - MacGregor
leaded paint - Volcano Art Prize Entry - Sheridan & Sheridan
leaded paint - Volcano Art Prize Entry - Cole

What happens once you’re in and you realise that you may be being exposed to lead in your rented home?

Spot tests are often the first port of call – people race off to the hardware store to procure them so they can test the paint around their home. 

When they get positive results, they search further and often end up asking us, The LEAD Group for advice.

(Before going further, we want to point out that spot tests are merely a guide, and are not sensitive enough to detect down to the new Australian definition of lead paint (0.1% lead), which is why we prefer standardised laboratory testing. And lately, colour change kits are now as rare as hens teeth in the shops!)

What do you do?

It’s essential to identify the sources of lead so that they can be dealt with swiftly.

We recommend taking samples to send to the lab – that way you know exactly what you’re dealing with and how to address the lead in your home. We’ll talk about that a little later.

From here, safely and systematically addressing the sources of lead is the next important step.

However, because you are renting, this is something that needs to be done with the property owner (or their managing agent). 

Putting things in writing is a great way to do this – it allows you to gather your thoughts, present a logical and well-researched argument, and clearly state what you would like done.

As a tenant, you are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act in your state or territory. 

The best place to get advice on your rights as a tenant are the relevant tenants unions – they can also help with protecting your rights if you have to go to a small claims or tenancy tribunal.

Testing for Leaded Paint

Planning is essential for this – as leaded paint is only one of the 4 major sources of lead in the home.

Dust on surfaces, soil and drinking water are the other three big sources, which is why it’s so important to consider them in your mix of testing.

The Big 4

To properly determine sources of lead in your home, we recommend The LEAD Group 8-Sample Kit (posted). You’re able to use the 8 samples for a variety of different sample types, and that way you can cover off areas that may be sources of lead exposure for young children and animals. 

But if there are only adults in your household and your landlord is planning to repaint while you remain in the home, you definitely want to test the paint for lead at a lab well before the painter arrives, no matter what condition it is in.

What to Test

Consider your use of the property to date, as well as who lives there – including pets and backyard chickens.

Some general tests include:

  • Surface dust wipes of a young child’s or indoor pet’s play floor and accessible window sill, especially if there is leadlighting
  • Surface dust wipe of the entrance of your home (especially if you are in the inner city or a leaded community)
  • Soil sample from your vegetable garden or bare soil a young child or pet or chickens use, especially if a child ever eats soil
  • Egg test from your backyard chickens
  • Paint samples from chalky, peeling, flaky or bubbling paint
  • First flush and flushed water samples from your kitchen tap, especially if the tap is new in the last three years
  • First flush and flushed water samples if your drinking water is tank water
  • First flush and flushed water samples from your hose if you use it to water your vegetable garden, pets or chickens or if children drink from it

What happens next?

Send the samples into the lab, and once they’ve been analysed, we’ll interpret them for you and send them back with information on what can be done to address the lead in your home.

As with each step, the landlord needs to be involved in addressing the lead in your home, including the safe removal of leaded paint, ceiling dust or management of lead contaminated soil.

With over 30 years of experience, we can guide you on how best to address the lead in your home.

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