Detroit Lead Inspections – Full Compliance F.A.Q

Detroit Lead Paint Inspections for Rental Properties  F.A.Q.

Since January 1st, 2010, Detroit has required all Rental property owners to have  a lead clearance for their properties before they can be rented out to the public.  The wording of this ordinance is clear, but to people unfamiliar with lead safety it can also be really very confusing. What is a Clearance? Why do I need a prior inspection? How long is my clearance good for? What can the city do for those who are non-compliant?   We answer these questions and more, daily, and hope that by sharing some of our information with you, we can help you decide what course of action is best moving forward with lead paint inspections.

1.) What exactly does the City rental code require?

The 2010 amendment to the Detroit City Code, Chapter 9, Article 1, Division 3 requires the following:

  • “Owners of rental property built before 1978 in the City of Detroit must have a lead inspection and risk assessment performed to determine the presence of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.”
  • “If lead-based paint hazards exist, the hazards must be reduced or controlled using interim controls and/or abatement (as defined by State Law) prior to a tenant occupying the rental property.”
  •  “After Interim Controls and/or Abatement are performed by properly trained and certified and individuals, the owner must obtain a clearance inspection and lead clearance. Owners must obtain this lead clearance in order to receive a Certificate of Compliance and Rental Registration from the City.”

2.) What happens if I ignore this?

To rent a property legally within the City of Detroit, one must obtain a Certificate of Rental Registration.  This can not be achieved without having a lead clearance.

Furthermore, there are penalties for non-compliance.  These fee’s change with the size of the building, but they range from $500-$2000 for single-family/ duplex owners to $2000 -$8000 for Apartment owners. These penalties can continue daily until compliance is achieved.

Under current laws, in the state of Michigan make landlords responsible for lead paint in their rental property.

It’s a criminal offense in the State of Michigan to rent a residential unit to a family with a minor child who is found to have an elevated blood lead level where the property owner or manager has knowledge that the rental unit contains a lead-based paint hazard. (MCL 333.5475a.)

The penalties that can incur after such an incidence is up to 93 days in jail and/or fines as high as $5000 for first-time offenders, and double that for repeat offenders.

On a smaller scale, it is a violation of the Detroit City Code to maintain a rental property that has lead hazards. Section 24-10-25 of the code states that it is ” unlawful for any owner to maintain a dwelling unit in a condition where lead hazards present a danger of lead poisoning to children who inhabit the dwelling.”

The penalty from the city can be as harsh as $500 a day until the said hazard is fixed and cleared.

On a Federal level, Federal law requires landlords to disclose all known lead hazards to tenants at the time of lease or lease renewal. This disclosure must occur even if the hazards have been removed, reduced or abated.  Not disclosing this information is a violation of HUD , the US Department of Housing, and the EPA. The violations start at $11,000 per agency and violation.

3.)How is this any different from older laws?

An ounce of prevention with lead paint is more viable than any cure.  In previous versions of these rental laws, the lead was generally not identified until someone, generally, a child had already been exposed to lead via the paint.  Lead poisoning is not reversible, and they can last a lifetime.  The new laws allow for the prevention of pain and suffering and improve the quality of life for all citizens within the city of Detroit.

4.) What part of the city can help me know if I’m in compliance?

The City of Detroit Buildings and Safety Engineering department is responsible for the regulations and changes to the city’s ordinance.  They can be reached at the following: 800-450-2503

5.) So, when do I need an inspection?

A.) If you’ve never had a Lead-based paint inspection before.

B.)If you had an inspection and used interim controls and a clearance, your inspection should be done annually. 

C.) If you had an inspection and used abatement procedures, your inspections should be done every three years. 

D.)If you had an inspection and no lead paint was found, or the home was fully abated, you require no further lead inspections or risk assessments.

6.) Can I do my own lead inspection? If not, who can help me?

Unless you are a certified lead paint inspector within the state of Michigan, you can not do your own inspections.  These services can be provided by a certified Lead Inspector/Risk assessor within the State of Michigan. The Michigan Department of Community Health is in charge of licensing these professionals. ETC employs well over 20 certified lead technicians and is well versed in dealing with the city of Detroit’s rules and regulations. However, if you’d like to see a list of other Lead safe Inspectors you can find one here!

7.)How much is this going to cost me?

For a Lead Inspection/Risk Assessment, the prices can vary depending on the size of the facility, age of the house, and the number of rooms. Generally, you’re looking at anywhere from $500-$700 for an initial single family home inspection. Multi-family inspections can be a significant amount more and are generally based on unit’s tested.

For a Lead Clearance, You can expect to pay anywhere from $300-$500 depending on the size of the home and how many hazards were found. Multifamily units are again priced per unit and contingent on common areas and number of rooms.

8.) What’s the difference between Abatement and Interim Control Methods?

Abatement: This method of control seeks to act to reduce levels oflead, particularly in the home environment. Generally, this permanently eliminates lead-based paint hazards. This is done in order to reduce or eliminate incidents of lead poisoning. This involves either the complete removal and replacement of lead-based paint surfaces and fixtures or encapsulation of hazardous materials. This also branches out to the removal and covering of soil hazards. The process of abatement includes preparation, cleanup, disposal, and post-abatement clearances. All abatement work must be performed by a state certified lead abatement firm.

Interim Controls: A less permanent, yet generally lower in immediate cost method of dealing with lead paint hazards.  This method is designed to temporarily solve the problem.  Interim controls include, but are not limited to :

  • Specialized cleaning.
  • Repairs
  • General Maintenence
  • Painting
  • Temporary Containment
  • Ongoing monitoring of lead-based paint or hazards.
  • and Resident Education.

The temporary nature is why Interim options require more frequent monitoring than houses which have been abated.

9.) Who can perform these controls or my abatement?

Any certified renovator, with accredited training from the state of Michigan Department of Community Health, and has an up to date, issued certificate can perform renovations.  These individuals can also act as directors of subcontractors to others who supervise while the renovations are being performed.

Abatement, however, must be done by a certified abatement worker. This individual has been trained and specialized to perform this task, and has been certified by the Michigan Department of Community health to perform abatement.

10.) I can’t do the work myself?

As a rental owner, you can. But you must be trained as a certified renovator in order to perform interim controls or renovations that disturb more than 6 square feet of paint per room or 20 feet total.

The good news is, it doesn’t take much to become certified. You or someone on your staff must take the 8-hour Renovate, Repair, and Painting course f from any certified Renovator Trainer.  Environmental Testing and Consulting also specializes in this form of training, and we run these classes often. If you are unable to attend one in our Romulus or Lansing branch, you can find more trainers here.

11.) I just got my first letter from the City. What are my next steps?

  1.  Call 1-800-450-2503 and obtain a certificate of Rental Registration for each of your properties.
  2.  Schedule a lead inspection /risk assessment for your properties.
  3. Hire a contractor, or take classes your self, so that the hazards may be addressed which are highlighted in the Lead Inspection/Risk Assessment report.
  4.  Obtain a Lead Clearance, and send it to ‘Building, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department” @ 313-628-2451


City of Detroit, Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Development,  

“New Lead Ordinance Requirements for Rental Property Owners”

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