Federal laws require property owners and their real estate agent to disclose the presence of lead in both residential and commercial real estate transactions. These disclosures must be made before a sale is finalized and failing to disclose the presence of lead in Illinois can have serious consequences. Because the presence of lead can have serious, long-term health consequences, it is something that all homebuyers should take seriously and thoroughly protect themselves against prior to the purchase of a property.
New Properties and Properties Built Before 1978
The Residential Real Property Disclosure Act requires sellers in Illinois to present buyers with a disclosure listing the physical condition of the property, including the presence of lead. This act applies only to property that is currently occupied and excludes new structures.
All properties built prior to 1978 require a lead specific disclosure form. The seller is required to disclose their actual knowledge of the presence of lead-based paints including knowledge of any tests that were positive for lead-based paint, or mitigation steps that were taken to remove it. It is the seller’s agent’s responsibility to ensure these disclosures satisfy Illinois disclosure requirements.
On all properties, the seller must provide the buyer 10 days to conduct a paint inspection and risk assessment. This period can be extended with the agreement of both parties. While home buyers can waive their right to inspection, it is not something that is advisable.
Pamphlets for Protection
The law requires sellers or their agent to provide the buyer with a copy of the EPA’s pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead Paint in the Home. The pamphlet provides basic information regarding the use of lead paint, what to look for, and the consequences that can arise from toxic lead exposure. Buyers are strongly advised to read through the pamphlet and to ask the seller and their agent questions about the property based on things they see and discover during visual inspections and review of any mitigation reports.
Penalties for Failing to Disclose
Individuals who knowingly fail to disclose the presence of lead in Illinois can be subject to strict penalties and fines. These can include up to one year in prison and up to $10,000 per violation. A buyer’s real estate attorney can pursue remedy of up to triple damages against a seller or their agent.
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