Vermont Lead Law (Essential Maintenance Practices) for Rental Properties

Vermont Lead Law (Essential Maintenance Practices) for Rental Properties

Is your rental property lead safe?

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was commonly used in paint in pre-1978 housing. Too much lead in the body, or lead poisoning, can cause serious and permanent health problems for anyone, but children and pregnant women are at special risk. Lead poisoning can be prevented.

Where does lead come from?

In 1978, lead was banned in house paint. About 70% of Vermont homes were built before 1978 and likely contain lead-based paint. Over time, lead paint on surfaces crumbles into invisible dust that contaminates homes and soil. Dust or soil clings to hands, toys, and objects that children put in their mouths. Young children are at the highest risk because their developing bodies absorb lead more easily. Children can also be exposed to lead by eating, chewing or sucking on lead-painted objects such as windowsills or furniture.

Children, pregnant women and adults can be exposed to lead during renovation projects or whenever lead-based paint is improperly sanded, scraped or burned. Lead exposure can occur from breathing in lead dust, or from swallowing the lead dust if it gets onto hands and then into mouths. This commonly occurs through eating, drinking or smoking.
What is the Vermont Lead Law?
The Vermont Lead Law—passed in 1996 and updated in 2008—requires landlords of older buildings and child care facility owners to help prevent children from being exposed to lead. If a residential rental property or child care facility was built before 1978, the landlord, property owner or property management company is required to:
  • Provide tenants with Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home booklet
  • Post an approved notice asking people to report chipping, flaking or damaged paint
  • Complete Essential Maintenance Practices (EMPs) annually
  • Attend an approved EMP training class or ensure that anyone who performs EMPs on the property has completed the class
  • Sign and file an annual compliance statement certifying that EMPs have been done
  • Provide a copy of the compliance statement to tenants, insurance carrier and the Health Department at least every 365 days
What are Essential Maintenance Practices (EMPs)?

EMPs must be completed annually, and include:

  • Inspecting the property inside and outside
  • Identifying areas where paint is in poor condition and promptly fixing it by using lead-safe work practices
  • Verifying the installation of low-cost inserts in window wells in all wooden windows
  • Removing any visible paint chips on the ground outside the building
  • Performing specialized cleaning in common areas
  • Taking precautions when remodeling to prevent the spread of lead dust
What are lead-safe work practices under the Vermont Lead Law?

The Vermont Lead Law (V.S.A. Title 18, Chapter 38, §1751) prohibits unsafe work practices that increase the risk of lead exposure including removing lead-based paint by:

  • Burning
  • Using a heat gun, water or sand blasting
  • Dry scraping
  • Power sanding
  • Chemical stripping

The law requires using lead-safe work practices including:

  • Limiting access to work areas
  • Using plastic dust barriers
  • Wearing protective clothing
  • Using water to dampen painted surfaces or debris before disturbing them
What are the benefits of the Vermont Lead Law?
  • Protects children: Simple ongoing maintenance practices prevent children from being exposed to lead.
  • Protects property owners: Property owners who follow the law receive increased liability protection.
  • Protects workers: Using lead-safe work practices reduces workers’ exposure to lead.
  • Saves money: By reducing children’s exposure to lead, property owners may avoid the high cost of abatement that could be required in the case of a lead-poisoned child.

The Vermont Lead Law extends beyond rental housing. There are state and federal laws that relate to child care providers, schools, residential property owners, and owners of public, commercial, and industrial buildings and structures built before 1978.

What is covered in the EMP training class?

EMP classes are offered online and in person. You can learn about the different training options and view the training materials on the EMP training page.

The class will train participants to:

  • Comply with the Vermont Lead Law
  • Understand the health effects of lead exposure
  • Learn ways to protect children from exposure to lead
  • Know how to perform EMPs safely
  • Identify work practices that increase the risk of lead poisoning

See a schedule of classes
View the full description of the Lead Law requirements

How do I become EMP certified?

You can learn about the different training options and view the training materials on the EMP training page.

Is there any financial assistance available?

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board’s Lead-Based Paint Program provides financial and technical assistance to income-eligible landlords and property owners to reduce the risk of lead poisoning caused by lead-based paint hazards. Call 802-828-5064 or 800-290-0527 or email

If your property is in Burlington or Winooski, the Burlington Lead Program of the City of Burlington provides similar assistance. Call 802-865-LEAD (5323).

for renters

How do I know if my landlord is complying with the Vermont Lead Law?
  • You should receive a copy of the Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home booklet and a copy of the most recent EMP compliance statement before your lease starts.
  • A notice with contact information should be displayed in a place that is easily seen by you and other renters.
  • Your landlord or someone else who has taken the EMP training class should perform EMPs every year
  • You should receive a copy of the EMP compliance statement every year.

If you feel like your landlord has not done either of these things, please:

  1. Talk to your landlord about it first.
  2. Report a violation to the Health Department if you can't resolve the issue with your landlord.
What is my role in keeping my housing lead-safe?

Tell your landlord if you see any deteriorated paint on the inside and outside of the building. This includes any chipping, flaking, peeling, chalking, cracking or damaged paint or any visible paint chips on the ground.