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If COVID Isn't Enough…Multi-Family Property Owners/Managers Beware: NYC Prioritizes Lead-Based Paint Enforcement

May 1, 2020

New York City increased its enforcement of “Local Law 1,” which requires landlords of certain multi-family buildings to take steps to prevent the poisoning of children from lead-based paint (LBP).  Landlords must provide annual notices to tenants, conduct annual inspections, remediate chipped or peeling LBP, and remove LBP from door frames and window sills.  Certifications of this work must also be provided to new tenants. Although the law was initially passed in 2004, enforcement had historically been weak at best. However, since NYC created the “LeadFreeNYC” campaign in 2019, which included the implementation of ten new laws to strengthen Local Law 1, enforcement has ramped up significantly. The new enforcement “teeth” include fines up to $5,000 per violation, which may be compounded by other state and federal violations as well.  To avoid such violations, landlords (and their property managers) in the City should be evaluating their LBP risks.

Similar LBP requirements exist at the federal level.  In 1992, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (“Title X”) was enacted to reduce LBP hazards and prevent lead poisoning, particularly among children.  Title X led to two important LBP rules enforced by EPA and HUD.  First, the Lead Disclosure Rule (LDR) requires sellers and landlords to disclose known LBP issues before a sale or lease (including re-leases) of most housing built before 1978 and provide an EPA-approved pamphlet on lead poisoning.  Notably the LDR does not apply to properties without a bedroom (e.g., a studio or loft) or housing designated for the elderly or disabled, nor is disclosure of lead poisoning suffered by any prior occupants required.  Second, the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule sets strict standards for a variety of renovation and maintenance activities designed to minimize the creation of toxic lead dust and other potentially harmful effects of disturbing LBP in buildings built before 1978.  Violations of either rule can include penalties up to $37,500 per violation per day and may involve criminal sanctions. 

Shipman has an extensive track record of assisting our real estate clients to assess environmental compliance (including with respect to LBP and other building hazards, such as asbestos, mold, and PCBs) and, in coordination with trusted technical experts, evaluating and implementing cost effective management and abatement options that protect all involved.  If you have questions, please contact one of the following attorneys:  Andrew Davis, Matt Ranelli, Aaron Levy, Alfredo Fernández, Kristie Beahm or Tyler Archer.

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