Providing safe rental properties is a major responsibility for landlords and property managers. Part of keeping a safe environment includes testing for substances like lead paint, asbestos, and radon gas. Today, we’ll review the main concerns of radon in rental properties and how landlords can mitigate risks associated with this toxic gas.
Contents of This Article:
- What Is Radon?
- Risks and Radon Concerns in Rental Properties
- Landlord Responsibilities for Radon Testing in Rentals
- What to Do if Radon Is Detected
- Stay Compliant With Professional Management
What Is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can seep from the ground into enclosed spaces, including homes and buildings.
It cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. However, this gas can cause major health risks, including lung cancer.
Because of the danger it poses, many municipalities across the US have laws requiring radon testing and disclosure in rental properties. Whether you’re a landlord or property management company in Northern Virginia, knowing the risks and responsibilities regarding radon exposure in rental properties is crucial.
Risks and Radon Concerns in Rental Properties
Exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the US. Radon exposure has been estimated to contribute to around 21,000 deaths per year. As such, failing to test for radon or mitigate exposure can lead to severe health issues for landlords and tenants. Some of the main concerns and risks regarding radon exposure in rental properties include the following.
- Even short-term exposure to elevated radon levels can contribute to health issues. So, addressing radon concerns is crucial regardless of tenant residency duration.
- Prolonged exposure to elevated radon levels can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer, posing a direct threat to tenant well-being.
- Radon is colorless and odorless, making it impossible to detect without specialized equipment. Unfortunately, the undetectable characteristics of radon gas can increase the risk of exposure.
Landlord Responsibilities for Radon Testing in Rentals
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to provide your tenants with a safe and secure living environment. That said, if radon is found to be an issue in a rental home, landlords may be held liable for exposing their tenants to it. Currently, there are no federal laws that require landlord to test for radon in their rental properties. However, most landlords and property managers are required by state and local laws to test and inform tenants of radon concerns in rental properties.
Unfortunately, radon can be an issue in any home at any time, whether the home is old or new. So, knowing how to check for the presence of radon and what to do if you find it is crucial for rental property owners. Here are some tips to ensure compliance with state and local laws.
- Know your responsibilities and laws in your state or area regarding radon testing.
- Hire a certified professional to perform radon testing in your rental properties.
- Immediately address issues related to radon concerns in your rental property. For instance, you may need to install a radon mitigation system or seal cracks and gaps to prevent radon from entering. Then, regularly retest to ensure levels are low.
- Keep documentation regarding radon testing and mitigation efforts for insurance purposes or in case of legal action.
If landlords neglect radon testing, they could be putting tenants at major risk for respiratory diseases or, potentially, lung cancer. Additionally, they can face legal and financial repercussions, especially if tenants become ill due to radon exposure.
What to Do if Radon Is Detected
If you or a certified professional detect radon in one of your rental properties, it’s crucial to take immediate action. Remember, no amount of radon exposure is safe. One of the best short-term ways to respond to a positive radon test is to air out the home and ensure it has proper ventilation. However, this is only a temporary fix.
To keep radon gas out of your properties long-term, you’ll want to seal any cracks or openings in the foundation of the property. Otherwise, you could utilize a sub-slab depressurization system, which can collect and keep off-gas hazardous fumes away from the property. This system has one or more suction pipes that collect radon gasses trapped beneath the foundation of your property and draw them upwards through a vent pipe and away from the home.
Stay Compliant With Professional Management
Immediately addressing radon concerns in rental properties is crucial to ensure the health and safety of both tenants and landlords. However, this is just one of many important tests for landlords or property managers to run to ensure each rental is safe and inhabitable. If you find yourself falling behind on crucial landlord responsibilities, like maintenance or inspections, it may be time to hire a team of property managers.
Bay Property Management Group offers comprehensive rental management services to landlords throughout Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC. Whether you need help finding and screening tenants, collecting rent payments, or performing maintenance, we’ve got it covered. Contact BMG to learn more about how we can help your rental business today!