Landlord to Clean Up Act and Sites Impacted by Lead–Based Paint
In a joint announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, a settlement was reached with a Cincinnati property manager for failure to inform tenants that their homes may contain lead-based paint.
According to the EPA, the company violated the federal Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, which mandates the EPA and HUD “to require the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978.” The law requires that sellers and landlords provide potential occupants with the following before ratification of a contract to lease or purchase a home:
- The EPA-approved pamphlet titled “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.”
- Any known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards, including location and condition of painted surfaces.
- Any lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards records and reports available to the seller or landlord. For multi-unit buildings these include records and reports relating to common areas and other units when the information was obtained from a buildingwide evaluation.
- An attachment to the contract or lease (or language inserted in the lease itself) that includes a Lead Warning Statement and confirms that the seller or landlord has complied with all notification requirements. This attachment is to be provided in the same language used in the rest of the contract and must be signed and dated by sellers or landlords, and agents, and the home buyers or tenants.
- For home buyers, a 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. The time period allowed for inspection may be changed by mutual agreement of all parties, and homebuyers may waive the inspection opportunity.
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In the action, the EPA stated that officials at the Cincinnati health department “identified at least 5 children with elevated blood lead levels in the properties” and that the company had “specific knowledge” of lead in as many as 21 of its units.
Under the settlement, the company will replace windows in 224 units at 136 residential properties and conduct lead-based paint hazard cleanup activities, including abatement of all friction and impact surfaces, and clearance exams within a period of 6 years to make those units lead-safe for families. These actions will cost the company $350,000 and the company will also pay civil penalties of $7,500.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 24 million homes still pose a risk to young children due to lead-based paint, despite regulations and restrictions put in place to inform occupants and eradicate the problem. The EPA noted, however, the settlement is the third joint Residential Lead Act Enforcement action in Cincinnati and to date, enforcement actions nationwide have resulted in lead-based paint hazard reduction at more than 186,745 apartments, costing landlords about $31 million and $1,466,399 in civil penalties. Defendants in these cases have also paid $703,750 to community-based projects aimed at reducing lead poisoning.