Tenant with Latex Allergies – Who Repaints?


    Folks, question: my tenant just found out that her daughter has latex allergies. Her doctor advised her to repaint her apartment. She mentioned this to me twice and I have a hunch she’s angling to have me repaint the apartment for her (she’s on a limited income). Technically, who is responsible for this cost – the landlord or tenant? (The apartment was newly painted about a year and a half ago.)


    22 Replies

    1. latex paint allergy? I have never heard of such a thing. People who have sensitivity to latex cannot wear latex gloves or latex garments but dry paint? I think this sounds very suspicious.

    2. i had a friend that was renting an apartment and was supposedly allergic to VOCs in the paint and had constant headaches. He bought the VOC-free paint himself, paid a pro painter $1500 or so for the job, and still kept getting the headaches. If it pacifies your tenant and you want to retain the tenant, you can offer to be nice and paint it for her, but make her pay for the paint herself. I agree with above posters that her kid should be checked for other allergies.

    3. Thanks, folks. I think I’m leaning toward Unprotected Wrecks’ interpretation: ie, that she’s just worried. I just wanted to field this out there to you guys in case she did ask (then at least I’d have an intelligent answer and understand my legal responsibilities).

    4. arkady, there is no latex in modern, conventional house paints. Your relative might have a severe latex allergy, but that’s not what she is reacting to if she is sensitive to fresh paint.
      Honestly, what you said makes as much sense as “my relative is very allergic to strawberries, so when I cook green beans she can’t come over to dinner.”

    5. I, too, have a family member w/ severe latex allergy. She has to stay away for a week after a room is painted but is fine after that. I doubt it’s the problem, too. The kid goes to doctor’s offices, pre-school maybe – latex there as well.

    6. It’s very, very unlikely there is actual latex in your “latex” paint. Most likely, it contains synthetic polymer resin as a base, which has now dried completely and is inert. Some brands still say “latex paint” instead of acrylic paint on the outside of the can, but unless you used a time-machine to buy house paint, latex is a misnomer.
      So if her child has latex allergies, the paint is not and never was a concern. She might want to avoid latex gloves, which can contain latex (a natural rubber), and also change doctor, who sounds like a throwback to the 50’s.

    7. Compare the price of paint with no latex. Under the American Disability Act you might have to accommadate the tenant anyway.
      Try to find a way that is agrreeable to landlord and tenant.
      You have a headache on your hands. You have my empathy on this one. good luck.

    8. I would ask her if her child has any other allergies.
      It could be that the kid is allergic to house dust and she needs a hepa filter vacuum for example.
      This allergy season has been really bad and so the diagnosis of latex allergy might be coincidental.

      Latex is a contact allergy no? How old is the kid? If they are in diapers, they can contain latex. As do balloons and rubber boots and raincoats, rubber balls, beach toys… and on and on.

      Not to sound unsympathetic and the parent is clearly worried, but it sounds like painting is a last resort rather than a first.

      (I am mildly allergic to latex for what it’s worth and get a rash if I wear latex gloves for an hour or more. My entire house is painted with latex based paint, but I resist the urge to rub my body against the wall! No problems under those circumstances)

    9. I have a family member alergic to latex. Latex gloves are a problem but dry paint has not been in issue. I have avoided painting while he’s in the house, though. Anyway I don’t see how it’s the landlord’s responsibility.

    10. @Petebklyn, there are several primers that will let you paint oil over latex.
      @OP, legally she’d be responsible for it. But I don’t think you need to go there at all. I’d start with the assumption that this is a worried, cash-strapped mom and not a swindler. If this is the case, you don’t need to get into rights and responsibilities. Express you sincere concern for her kid’s health, and tactfully question the legitimacy of her doctor’s advice. I’m guessing she’d much rather know she has nothing to worry about than be disrupted by a latex-to-oil repaint job.

    11. the psychic part of my brain is telling me that she is angling for a future lawsuit, and or shafting you out of many months of rent… trust me, she can definitely get a shady doctor to document this most likely faux allergy.


    12. I see a future problem here already….of course she is on a limited income……

      If it was my child that was allergic to the paint I would not ask the LL to buy new paint, i would just buy it myself and do it. certainly a child’s health is more important than a few bucks on paint.

      But I know the tenants of today will not spend a dime on their apartments, let alone paint??????

    13. As a landlord myself, I’d offer to let her break her lease. What next? Wood fibre aversion? Emf fears? You can’t cater to the outliers.

    14. I’m allergic to whatever chemicals are in wet paint but never heard of a reaction to dry paint that’s over a year old. I can smell paint that’s several weeks old, but not more than that.

      I would agree the diagnosis sounds fishy.

    15. I don’t think you can paint oil-based over latex paint anyway if that is what we are supposed to infer here.

    16. Tell your tenant she needs a new doctor, not a new paint job. From Mayo Clinic—Not all latex products are made from natural sources. Products containing man-made (synthetic) latex, such as latex paint, are unlikely to cause a reaction because they don’t contain the natural substance: http://bit.ly/m2djcM
      More of the same from American Latex Allergy Association: http://bit.ly/kRRgmI

    17. The tenant is responsible. But is she sure about the paint? Supposedly it contains synthetic latex, which doesn’t affect those with allergies to the real thing. In any case, what does she propose to use — oil? — and is she sure that won’t cause a problem? They’ll have to vacate for at least a week because of the fumes.