Submitted by admin on Thu, 04/02/2009 - 09:14
I had my condo and common areas tested for lead paint mostly for knowledge and there were a couple of spots within my condo but most of the issues lay outside my condo. We are in a 3 unit complex and I don't want to upset anyone but if I want to delead, I believe I am still responsible if the common areas are not deleaded. How in the world is this type of issue handled within a condo association. I paid for the inspection but I wouldn't want to pay for the whole place to be deleaded. Any advice is appreciated. Posted on The Forum by Icaru2002.
You are wise to be concerned, and given that damages in lead paint law suits in Massachusetts are often HUGE, your fellow association members should be concerned as well. You need to educate them about the lead paint law and explain that they, as members of the association, could be liable for damages if a tenant's child--or even a child of one of their fellow association members--consumes lead paint in a common area and is harmed as a result. I'm honestly not sure if the strict liability portion of the MA lead paint law (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 111) applies to condominium associations, but the statute specifically includes condominium associations in its definition of "owner."
If I were you, regardless of what your association decides to do, I would go ahead and put the safety of my tenants first: delead your unit, the place where your tenant's children will spend most of their time. This will limit your own exposure somewhat. However, give the other members a chance to work with you before you start your own deleading, because it may be cheaper to delead the individual units and the common areas simultaneously. Make sure you get several quotes from LICENCED contractors, as quoted prices often vary greatly. Get quotes for doing the common area as well, even if the association has not yet agreed to share the costs. You can use the quotes to take some of the mystery out of the process and, hopefully, convince them to join your efforts.
Finally, even when pressing issues like this are not present, I always encourage condo associations to spend a few hundred dollars, retain an attorney with condo law experience, and spend an hour or two discussing the association's legal responsibilities. I get a huge number of questions from owners of condos with less than ten fellow owners, small associations that run afoul of the law and end up being sued, suing each other or, in your case, failing to protect themselves from potential liability. With respect to your lead paint issue, a neutral attorney may also have better luck convincing your fellow owners of their potential lead paint liability.