The goal of the federal and state requirements for tenant notification is to help reduce lead
poisoning by giving all tenants of homes built before 1978 information about lead in their home. The
program also educates tenants and landlords about the dangers of lead poisoning, its prevention, and
the Massachusetts Lead Law. Tenant notification applies to all tenants, whether or not they have a
child under six living with them.
Before renting a home, landlords, managing agents or any real estate agent involved in the
rental must give new tenants copies of any existing lead forms for the home. These include lead
inspection reports, risk assessment reports, a Letter of Compliance (no matter how old) or a Letter of
Interim Control. If the landlord or agent does not have any or all of these forms for the home, he or she
simply does not give them. In addition, the landlord or agent must give new tenants the Tenant Lead
Law Notification. This form addresses lead poisoning, specific prevention tips for parents, the
requirements of the Lead Law and an explanation of the lead forms. Attached to the Tenant Lead Law
Notification is the Tenant Certification form. This is to be filled out and signed by both the tenant and
the landlord or agent. Each party gets a copy to keep. These forms have been approved to satisfy
both state and federal lead notification requirements. Landlords or agents may choose to include
the Tenant Lead Law Notification/Tenant Certification form in a written lease, instead of using a
Landlords and agents who fail to carry out their tenant notification obligations are liable for all
damages caused by their failure to do so, and are subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
How can an owner of rental housing in Massachusetts built before 1978 get insurance to cover
potential lead liability?
The answer depends on the number of units that the property owner wishes to insure, and
whether the property owner lives in the building for which insurance is sought. An owner-occupant
who insures four or fewer units may be covered by homeowners insurance. Generally, the property
owner who is not an owner-occupant will need to get commercial liability insurance, as will an owner-
occupant who wishes to insure more than four units.
Homeowners insurance may be available from several different sources: the regular, "admitted"
market, the FAIR Plan or the "surplus lines" market. The regular, "admitted" market is the usual
market for insurance. The FAIR Plan offers homeowners insurance to property owners unable to find
coverage in the regular market. The "surplus lines" market is a less regulated, and generally more
expensive market. It provides insurance to those who cannot find coverage elsewhere.
Under state Division of Insurance regulations, if an insurer in the regular market decides to
write homeowners insurance on rental housing for which a Letter of Compliance or Letter of Interim
Control is in effect, the insurer must provide coverage of lead paint liability arising from those
premises. Neither the state Lead Law nor the insurance regulations require a regular market
insurer to write liability insurance, including homeowners insurance, on a particular property. If
a Letter of Compliance or Letter of Interim Control is in effect for only part of a property, the coverage
for lead liability will extend to only that part of the property. Such insurance will also apply to any
common areas covered by the Letter of Compliance or Letter of Interim Control. It will not, however,
extend to injuries resulting from gross or willful negligence. The FAIR Plan's coverage of lead liability
is subject to the same regulations that apply to the regular market.
An insurer in the regular market, or the FAIR Plan, may ask the property owner to prove that
there is a Letter of Compliance or a Letter of Interim Control for the home sought to be insured. Once
the proof is provided, coverage for lead liability will apply as of the date of the Letter. If the Fair Plan
determines that a given property is eligible for insurance, or if a regular market insurer elects to insure