Across the country, thousands of dilapidated homes, many of which were foreclosed on during the housing crisis, have been purchased by investment companies and leased out, usually to low-income families, via seller-financed or rent-to-own contracts. However, many of these homes contain lead paint – and their contracts usually place all responsibility for repairs on the home’s tenant.
Health officials say they are increasingly seeing a connection between homes that are in seller-financed contracts and lead-poisoning cases. “Unfortunately they have this contract which removes the actual owner of the home from the liabilities of fixing the home and requires these people who have no money to fix their own home,” said Dr. Jennifer Lowry, chief of toxicology in the pediatrics unit of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein of The New York Times note a case in which a home previously declared “unfit for human habitation” by Baltimore city authorities had been sold and occupied, apparently without repairs, under a seller-financed housing contract leased through Vision Property Management of Columbia, S.C.