Radon gas shows no discretion when entering home as to whether the occupants own or rent the property. Renters have the same risk of radon exposure as homeowners. Yet, renters can be at a disadvantage when it comes to radon awareness alerts and being able to take radon reduction actions in the homes where they live.
Radon In Apartments: Radon disclosure to renters in the United States and Canada
Radon disclosure in real estate transactions is common in many states. However, the same isn’t true for rental homes. Only four U.S. states require landlords to disclose radon levels in their rental properties – Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Maine. Colorado and Illinois just passed new laws requiring that tenants receive radon educational materials when signing their lease and provides them the right to terminate their lease if high radon levels are found and the landlord opts not to mitigate the dwelling.
Landlord-tenant law in Canada stipulates that property managers must inform current and prospective tenants if a property is known to have high radon levels. However, in most cases the law does not explicitly state that the landlord must reveal that radon is a health risk/carcinogen nor is the landlord required to test a property as a precaution. Essentially, Canadian regulations (such as the Residential Tenancies Act, RTA) state the rental homes must be habitable and in good repair, with high radon levels possibly violating these guidelines.
What can home renters do?
Take the initiative. Ask these questions when negotiating your lease or renewal.
- Has the property been tested for radon?
- If yes, when?
- What were the results?
- If no, or not for several years, decide who is going to test the property for radon now, and what will be done if elevated levels are found.
Radon in a multifamily building
Multi-family home renters are also within their rights to request that the property be tested for radon. If the building has not been tested, residents can test themselves or request that the owner test.
Renters will have very little inconvenience when a radon test is being conducted in their units. Typically, the property management will place a small radon test kit in an out-of-the-way location within the main living area. The test will remain there until the kit is retrieved. The duration of the test is usually less than a week but can vary depending on the type of test being deployed by the property manager.
While the test is being performed tenants may be asked to leave doors and windows shut, other than for normal entering and exiting. They may also be asked to leave the fireplace off, limit ceiling fan usage, not run other fans in the apartment until the test kit is removed, and not to touch or move the test kit.
Health risks of living in a home with radon
Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring, radioactive gas that occurs from the breakdown of uranium in the rock and soil around one’s home or residence. It seeps into homes, apartments, and condos through cracks and crevices in the foundation. When inhaled into the lungs, radon decay products turn into radioactive particles that damage the DNA cells lining the lungs. Long term radon exposure can lead to lung cancer.
Radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States per year. It is the #1 cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Approximately one-third of the population in both the United States and Canada are renters. The Radon Guide for Tenants provided in the state of Illinois by IEMA-OHS is designed for people who rent houses, apartments, or condos. BC Lung Foundation in Canada offers an informative guide for Helping BC Renters and Evict Radon offers guidance about radon and renting.
Radon is too dangerous to ignore, regardless of whether you own or rent your home. Test your home for radon today.
Radonova is the laboratory of choice for numerous government radon surveys, as well as other public, and private sector large-scale measurement contracts around the world. A truly global laboratory, Radonova is active in over 80 countries and has performed millions of measurements. Contact Radonova at 331-814-2200.