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In the rental industry, it is crucial for property owners and landlords to provide basic maintenance services on heating and plumbing systems, as well as ensuring clean running water and a safe structure. Neglecting any of these areas can result in legal liability for owners and landlords, challenges for property managers, and serious health problems for tenants. The legal concept of “habitability” may sound like common sense, but it is essential to understand its implications.

Monica Gilroy, a real estate lawyer and founding principal of The Gilroy Firm in Atlanta, recently spoke with property managers about reducing risks associated with lead-based paint and mold. According to Gilroy, if implemented, a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could require property managers to be certified to deal with lead-based paint repair and remediation. To be safe, potentially, if they’re doing any renovation, property managers should be certified. A public comment period about the change ended in late 2023, and the agency was expected to release a final decision in Q1 2024.

If tenants claim there’s mold in their unit or in the building, Gilroy advises that property managers investigate the situation promptly. They should look at any test results that the tenant may have commissioned. Property managers should create written procedures and a checklist in response to any reports of mold. Develop instructions for tenants that outline what they should do whenever they believe they have encountered mold. It is important to take this issue seriously as it can lead to serious health problems for tenants if not addressed properly.

This information was adapted from the webinar “How to Avoid Legal Liabilities When Dealing With Property Owners and Investors,” moderated by Rental Beast, the National Association of REALTORS®’ exclusive recommended software provider in the rental space.

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