D.C. homeowners faced with higher standards for reporting presence of lead paint

Exposure to lead paint, particularly among children, can cause long-term negative health effects, which is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the use of such paint in homes built after 1978. But, for the properties constructed before that time, traces of the paint may still exist, even if efforts were made to remove or cover areas where it was used.

In the Washington, D.C. area, residents of older properties who are looking to sell these buildings need to be especially careful. As of 2010, under federal law, these homeowners must request a home inspection by a professional who is certified to search for the presence of lead paint. They must also comply with the provisions of a new provision set forth by the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C.

Following a lead paint inspection, sellers and the real estate agents they're working with must not only disclose known lead paint problems, but also potential areas of concern, such as locations that could contain the paint.

"If an owner has not applied a new coat of paint in the past 20 years on his pre-1978 property, 'it is reasonable for the owner to know that the paint is no longer in intact condition'," according to The Washington Post's assessment of the standard. "Therefore, the owner must disclose that lead-based paint hazards are present 'in the form of deteriorated presumed lead-based paint'."

This new D.C. provision should give pause to consumers who are looking to sell older properties, as sanctions from the government or a lawsuit from the buyer could be quite costly. By working with a qualified D.C. home inspector, residents should be able to avoid these penalties and ensure that the next homeowner benefits from living in property as much as they previously did.