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Lead Hazard Disclosure

When is a deal not a deal? Whenever the government says so. Read on.

Homes built prior to 1978 may pose a health threat. They may contain lead paint or have lead in some of the plumbing, which can cause a variety of health problems if ingested. Lead hazards also pose a legal problems to a Seller. If his house was built before 1978 he must disclose to the Purchaser that there might be a lead hazard in the home. If the Seller has no knowledge that there is lead, he can sign a disclosure telling the Purchaser that he is not aware of any lead hazard. The Purchaser then has an option of having an inspection of the property for lead or of waiving the inspection. Without the disclosure, and a copy of a booklet about lead hazards which must be supplied by the Seller to the Purchaser, the Purchaser cannot be bound to the transaction.

In addition, failure to supply the booklet and disclosure can be punishable by having a fine of up to $25,000.00 levied against the guilty party.

If a Broker is involved in the transaction, he must supply both the booklet and the disclosure to the Purchaser. If there is no Broker, the statutory requirements must still be met. Attorneys often supply the lead hazard disclosure as part of the contract, but the booklet is often not given to the Purchaser. This can place the Seller at risk for the fine for failure to supply the booklet. Make sure the statutory requirements have been met, either by the Broker or your attorney if you are selling a house built prior to 1978.

And remember, aside from the risk of having to pay an enormous fine for failure to comply with the statute regarding lead hazards, the Seller can also find himself involved in a transaction that will not take place because the contract of sale will be null and void absent the lead hazard disclosure.

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