Connecticut Landlords Settle Lead-Paint Disclosure Case
Boston, MA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development announced that a Connecticut property management company and several affiliated New Haven owners have agreed to pay a $32,000 fine for failing to inform tenants their apartments may contain lead-based paint. In addition, the landlords agreed to render those units lead safe at a cost of more than $400,000.
According to EPA and HUD, Renaissance Management Company, Inc., BHP Associates Limited Partners, GAB Hill Limited Partners, Renaissance Hill LP, and Beechwood Gardens, LP violated the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (Residential Lead Paint Act) by failing to inform tenants that their homes may contain potentially dangerous levels of lead.
“Lead paint is still one of the most serious and avoidable public health threats for children in New England,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “Property managers and property owners have an important role in preventing lead poisoning and need to follow all lead paint disclosure requirements so that families are aware of potential lead hazards.”
HUD’s Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi said, “The law is clear. Landlords and home sellers must inform their tenants and homebuyers if they know their home may contain potentially dangerous lead. This joint agreement should send a strong signal to everyone that both HUD and EPA will work together to protect the health and safety of families.”
According to the settlement, the parties noted above, as well as Wendell Harp, the President of Renaissance Management Company, Inc. and Managing Partner of the other parties, will spend more than $400,000 testing for lead-based paint hazards, replacing or abating all windows, and abating all lead-based paint hazards in every property owned and/or managed by them.
The case is among more than 25 lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken since launching an initiative to make sure landlords, property owners and property managers are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. The initiative includes inspections, some conducted jointly with HUD, around New England as well as compliance assistance workshops.
The settlement announced today is the third such judicial consent decree or administrative agreement in New England among HUD, EPA, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Over 10,570 rental units have been or will be made lead safe for tenants by landlords and management companies found to be in violation of the Residential Lead Paint Act. Moreover, the landlords and management companies involved in these three settlements have paid civil fines totaling $153,223 and paid over $4 million to eliminate or reduce lead hazards.
The Residential Lead Paint Act is one of the primary federal enforcement tools to prevent lead poisoning in young children. The Lead Disclosure Rule requires home sellers and landlords of housing built before 1978 to disclose to purchasers and tenants knowledge of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards using a disclosure form, signed by both parties, attached to the sales contract or lease containing the required lead warning statement, provide any available records or reports, and provide an EPA-approved "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home" pamphlet. Sellers must also provide purchasers with an opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection and/or risk assessment at the purchaser's expense. Acceptable lead disclosure forms can be found at www.hud.gov/offices/lead/disclosurerule and www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadbase.htm.
Health Effects of Lead-Based Paint
Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, poorer hearing, and a host of other health problems in young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that even at low levels, lead exposure in children can significantly impact IQ and even delay puberty in young girls.
At higher levels, lead can damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 310,000 of the nation's 20 million children under the age of six have blood lead levels high enough to impair their ability to think, concentrate and learn.
Eliminating lead-based paint hazards in older low-income housing is essential if childhood lead poisoning is to be eradicated. According to CDC estimates, the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels has been cut by two-thirds since the early 1990's, although the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in low-income, older housing without federal assistance remains high. HUD estimates that the number of houses with lead paint has declined from 64 million in 1990 to 38 million in 2000. About 24 million homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards.