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I am a sole proprietor painter, I was hired by a real estate agent to do scraping and painting work for their client in a house that was built in 1905.
When I sent them my invoice for everything that was completed for amount of $6,000 , the real estate agent said that I will be paid soon..
I waited for two month, and then they said they won't pay me anything, because they did lead inspection in their home, and found lead everywhere.
They are blaming me now, saying I didn't do proper protection when I was scraping and sanding, and now they have lead all over their carpet,
and they cannot live there because they have a small baby.
Now they want my insurance pay for cleaning their entire home, and install a new carpet and pay for a lot of other work there too.
Otherwise they said they will report me to EPA and I will end up in fine of $35,000. Also home owners said they are environmental scientists.
I am not RRP-certified, and never heard of it before, and nobody told me that there was a lead in the old paint in that house.
I am looking for any help now.
 

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Ouch. I would say get a lawyer before you talk to them anymore. Enforcement of RRP is complaint driven (mostly), but it sounds like a complaint will be forthcoming. I do not know how this will play out completely, but maybe someone here will have been through something similar. An old home like that is a given to have lead paint in it. Almost a 100% chance at that age.
 

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I have not been through anything like this, but my first thought is to also lawyer up.


One strange thing is how this job was booked and completed without any discussion of lead remediation, but suddenly it's an issue.


But - unfortunately - the other strange thing is that you didn't have it on your radar. As DeanV noted, a house that age almost certainly has lead in the paint, and raising the issue/testing/bidding for remediation where appropriate is basically in your court. So for future reference, lead was still going into paints as late as 1978ish. Anytime you hit a house built from 1980-ish to earlier, you need to think about the lead issue. There are simple little test kits you can get at the paint store.



Hope it works out ok, but it will more than likely end up a lawyers game.
 

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Are you a licensed contractor? This is a hard lesson, I'm sorry you are going through this, but its pretty widely know in our industry about lead, RRP, and EPA laws regarding this. Being ignorant to the law will not hold up in court. I would lawyer up and you might end up counter suing the real estate agent who contracted you. One of the many reasons that I hate working, never really end up working for, real estate agents. They no nothing about EPA laws and just want the work done for the cheapest price just to sell a home. They should be held liable just like the contractor if they were involved in the hiring of the contractor.
 

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I am a sole proprietor painter, I was hired by a real estate agent to do scraping and painting work for their client in a house that was built in 1905.
When I sent them my invoice for everything that was completed for amount of $6,000 , the real estate agent said that I will be paid soon..
I waited for two month, and then they said they won't pay me anything, because they did lead inspection in their home, and found lead everywhere.
They are blaming me now, saying I didn't do proper protection when I was scraping and sanding, and now they have lead all over their carpet,
and they cannot live there because they have a small baby.
Now they want my insurance pay for cleaning their entire home, and install a new carpet and pay for a lot of other work there too.
Otherwise they said they will report me to EPA and I will end up in fine of $35,000. Also home owners said they are environmental scientists.
I am not RRP-certified, and never heard of it before, and nobody told me that there was a lead in the old paint in that house.
I am looking for any help now.
Lawyer up! Lots of red flags here not the least of which is both of these homeowners are suddenly *environmental scientists*? A couple of pros from Dover like that- with a baby- in a 1905 house would have been all over lead abatement from Jump St. and not leaving it up to a realtor. I think they might simply be trying to beat you out of $6 grand. A lawyer might scare them straight and get you your money.

I heard a story- probably apocryphal but- who knows-of a couple that used to prey upon painters and other trades, that evidently were IRS employees-- or claimed to be- and threatened to audit guys if they tried to collect payment for the work they did. Anybody working for cash might get scared and walk away fast.
 

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Have to echo the sentiment that questions two “environmental scientists” who buy a home that old and then don’t pursue the issue of lead paint prior. Smells veeeeeery fishy to me. Besides, you were hired by the real estate agent who should also have been informing said “scientists” about potential lead AND asbestos issues. I second, third, fourth, and fifth getting a lawyer. But pretty much any way this goes, it sounds like it’s going to be a somewhat costly lesson.
 
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Maybe too late but, in addition to the excellent advice Dean gave you, I would limit what you say to the real estate agent. That person will turn on you if they haven’t already.

Gather every bit of communication between you, the agent and client. Write down a timeline of events and phone calls, emails, etc.

Good luck.
 

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Was this interior painting? I did work on one 1900 house exterior that I could find no lead paint on. It appeared to have either been stripped or weathered off, so it is possible, but very rare. That would seem to be less likely on an interior.

Yes, I agree this scenario sounds very fishy. Consulting a lawyer is good advice.
 

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My understanding is the owner has the obligation to present to a worker, any hazards they may be exposed to. Just because a house was built before 1978, doesn't mean it couldn't have been subject to lead abatement at some point in it's history.

I would be inclined to threaten a counter suit for negligence because the owner failed to inform me of the potential hazards. Whether I'm supposed to assume what those hazards are, or not.

"In California, sellers are required to disclose the presence of any known environmental hazard. A statement that the homeowner is unaware of environmental hazards is not a guarantee that the property is free of such hazards. It is in the homeowner’s and prospective homeowner’s interest to know what hazards are common, where they are found, and how they might be mitigated. -Source
 

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Laywer up and watch what you say to anyone.

I agree that not all houses used lead paint. It is hard to say. I have known old homes in my area to be lead free but every now and then, a house is sold with lead paint and it becomes a huge problem.
 

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This is old... I know.... but I'm super interested how this worked out. We got screwed when we were new in business on a similar thing. Not lead related, but a rich a-hole was happy as could be with the work we did until it was time to pay. He gave us 12k on a 24k contract, and said if we didn't accept it he'd slander our names all over the internet and ruin our business. Today, I'd deal with it differently. Back then, we sulked away with our tails between our legs. it hurt bad....we couldn't afford a loss like that back then. Even had he paid in full, we still would have lost money on the job. He hit the architect and at least 2 other trades with the same BS.
I feel like that's what's happening here to this guy. That being said, if he'd set up an LLC he could just fold it, walk away and start over. If the people actually came through on their threat, he'd at least be personally protected from liability. If his business is that new, he wouldn't be taking that big of a setback to just start over. it would be cheaper than hiring a lawyer and fighting the EPA (if the EPA still exists in a post-trump world). Unfortunately, as he stated he's a sole proprietor.... he doesn't have that exact path to take. For someone in his situation, I don't think the EPA would hit him hard at all on a first offense, especially if he sold them on the fact that he was set up and as a new business didn't know about RRP. I'd skip the lawyer, file a mechanics lien and small claims suit or civil suit for breach of contract (depending on state limits on small claims) and roll the dice. They'd probably make an offer to avoid the lawsuit, take 4k instead of 6 and walk away.
 
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