On December 26th, the New York Times featured an article on how many people are being placed in lead-tainted homes; homes already declared unfit for human habitation by city officials. Children are especially at risk when it comes to lead paint leading to dangerous levels of lead in their blood and lead poisoning. The presence of lead in blood has been linked to brain damage and other developmental delays.
Earlier this year, the issue of lead in drinking water made news headlines in Flint Michigan; however, what many people do not realize is that lead paint in aging homes still remains the biggest source of lead poisoning on a regular basis.
Why Are People Being Placed in Lead Tainted Homes?
Health officials have indicated that there is an increasing connection between homes that are under seller-financed contracts and lead-poisoning cases, and unfortunately, not every state requires that seller-financed contracts be recorded. These contracts essentially dissolve all liability for the seller and instead transfer all responsibility for fixing the home to those who are renting-to-own, which tends to be poor people who do not have the financial means to do so.
In response to the previous housing crisis, many out-of-state investment companies are now entering into rent-to-own leases, requiring that “tenants” accept a home or apartment “as is,” regardless of what health hazards city officials found there years earlier. This isn’t happening on a small scale, but rather, to tens of thousands of rundown homes throughout the country; homes previously foreclosed on.
How is it Legal to Put People at Risk for Lead Poisoning?
When the investors fail to fix basic issues with lead paint, for example, victims are often required to sign confidentiality agreements keeping them quiet after any related settlement and compensation for the illnesses that they and their family members have developed. This has essentially resulted in a serious and persistent issue of lead poisoning in children, where more than 530,000 children are testing positive for lead in their blood every year.
One might argue that these unfair contracts are completely contrary to public policy. Many of these companies are also, in fact, breaking the law: for example, some of them fail to register the property with city housing officials after buying it from the mortgage finance firm. According to records reviewed by the New York Times, some have also ignored and/or violated the city’s building codes. And in addition, although these contracts supposedly transfer all the responsibility of fixing the property onto the tenant, landlords, by law, are still (and always) legally required to keep homes fit for human habitation.
As a result, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has started to investigate the issue. In addition, some of these tenants and families have sued the sellers after learning that their children were poisoned by lead. Many also feel that government housing agencies should be required to eliminate dangerous lead conditions in these homes before they are placed on the market.
Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyers
Dana and Dana Attorneys at Law have over 25 years of experience in even the most complex cases. Our top priorities are your well-being and obtaining justice for your personal injury claim.
If you or a loved one is suffering from lead poisoning due to someone’s negligence, get in touch with us today to discuss your options. We’re here to help.