Lead paint

What is lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning is caused by the build-up of lead in the body, and can cause a number of serious medical problems including permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Because lead stays in the body and builds over time, steady exposure to even small amounts of lead can cause lead poisoning.

Lead is particularly toxic to children, especially under 6 years of age. Over time, even very small amounts of lead in a child's body can significantly lower intelligence, cause serious learning disabilities, and delay growth.

In Vermont, the most common source of lead poisoning in children comes from exposure to lead-based paints, which are still commonly found in older homes. Children get lead dust on their hands or on their toys and get poisoned when they put their fingers and toys in their mouth.

Federal lead laws

Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP)

The Federal Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) took effect in 2010. This nationwide law requires that individuals performing work in pre-1978 dwellings have the proper 8-hour certification and utilize and document the use of Lead Safe Work Practices and proper cleaning of the work site. Landlords are required to have the proper certification and follow the RRP Rule when working on their own pre-1978 rental units.

Federal and State of Vermont Disclosure Laws

Real Estate Transaction Disclosure. When selling a pre-1978 Rental Dwelling, the seller must disclose to the buyer any known Lead-Based Paint or Lead-Based Paint hazards based on certain requirements.

Rental Unit (Tenant) Disclosure. Landlords of pre-1978 rental units must disclose to tenants any known Lead-Based Paint or Lead-Based Paint hazards based on certain requirements.

Vermont lead laws

To help prevent lead poisoning, particularly in children, Vermont passed a lead law requiring all landlords who own rental property built before 1978 to:

  • Conduct Essential Maintenance Practices (EMPs) every year
  • File an annual EMP Compliance Statement with the Vermont Department of Health certifying that EMPs were completed on the property
  • Provide a copy of completed EMP Compliance Statement to all tenants and your insurance carrier

When conducting repairs or updates to rental properties, landlords should also be aware of the federal Lead Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule and the Safe Work Practices required under Vermont's Lead Law.

Essential Maintenance Practices (EMPs)

  • What are EMPs?
    EMPs are Essential Maintenance Practices that must be conducted every year to minimize the exposure of tenants, especially children, to lead-based paint in rental properties. EMPs include:
    • Inspecting both the inside and the outside of the property for peeling paint
    • Identifying and promptly repairing areas where paint is in poor condition
    • Conducting repairs within 30 days where paint is deteriorated in an area larger than 1 square foot
    • Removing all visible paint chips from property, including ground outside the building
    • Performing specialized cleaning in all common areas, at unit turnover, and after any work that disturbs painted surfaces
    • Installing window well inserts where needed
    • Posting a notice asking tenants to report paint deterioration
  • Do I need to perform EMPs?
    EMPs must be performed every year on any rental property build before 1978, unless the property has been certified as lead-free.
  • Who can perform them?
    EMPs can only be conducted by someone who has been EMP certified. To become EMP certified, you must take a class. Classes are offered regularly and are usually free. A schedule of upcoming free classes can be found at leadsafevermont.org.
  • How do I file a compliance form?
    Forms can be filed on-line at the Vermont Department of Health website:
  • How often do I need to do this?
    EMP Compliance Statements must be filed with the Vermont Department of Health every 365 days.
  • Consequences of not filing
    Failure to file an EMP Compliance Statement can result in fines and legal action. For a list of enforcement actions that have been brought against lead law violators, see the Vermont Attorney General's website.