Enforcement and Inspection

Building Managers on the Hook for Lead Paint Safety Requirements

Property management companies (PMC) performing or offering to perform regulated renovations without EPA certification in pre-1978 housing or child-occupied facilities will be subject to stronger enforcement and compliance regulations of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule in the future, according to a November 4, 2021, EPA news release.

“Health impacts from exposure to lead-based paint continue to be a significant problem in the United States, particularly in underserved and overburdened communities,” says Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Through this proposed action, the EPA will improve compliance with the RRP Rule in rental properties managed by property management companies and protect tenants from lead exposure.”

“Everyone, regardless of where they live, deserves to be safe from the hazards of lead-based paint,” says Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Holding property management companies accountable for the same lead safe work practices that other firms are held to is an important step towards ensuring all communities are protected from the dangerous health effects of lead.”

The EPA published notice on November 4, 2021, in the Federal Register that it intends to withdraw two frequent questions (FQs) concerning property managers and PMCs and their compliance responsibilities under the lead-based paint RRP Rule, Section 402(c) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

“The first of the PMC FQs to be withdrawn indicated the EPA’s prior statement that a PMC did not need to obtain firm certification for itself or renovator certification for an employee if none of its employees ‘do the work’ of the renovation.

“The second of the two PMC FQs explained how the EPA would exercise its enforcement discretion under circumstances in which a certified firm hired by the PMC fails to comply with a requirement of the RRP rule.

“With the withdrawal of [the FQs], the EPA would assess compliance by PMCs with the RRP rule, as it would for any other entity, according to the broadly applicable language of the RRP rule: That no firm may perform, offer, or claim to perform renovations without certification from EPA in target housing or child-occupied facilities (unless the renovation qualifies for a specified exception). See, e.g., 40 CFR 745.81(a)(2)(ii). Furthermore, the EPA will evaluate compliance and appropriate enforcement actions on the basis of each case’s individual facts and circumstances, and the EPA may exercise its enforcement discretion regarding PMC obligations.”

The EPA states these withdrawals are important to protect public health, particularly in underserved and overburdened communities, which often include a high proportion of rental housing managed by PMCs, and the military community, where family housing is also often managed by PMCs.

The withdrawal is scheduled to take effect March 19, 2022, following the public comment period and the agency’s considerations on the comments received. The EPA intends to post a memorandum regarding its final decision following the public comment period.