The federal government announced that it issued pre-penalty notices to several landlords for lead-based paint hazards last month. These landlords face significant penalties unless an acceptable settlement is reached.
The warnings were issued in conjunction with “National Healthy Homes Month” and as part of HUD’s new “Protect Our Kids!” campaign. Landlords of all federally-assisted housing and older rental homes have a responsibility to provide tenants with lead-paint disclosures and in some cases to remove lead hazards.
Under these rules, landlords of properties built before 1978 must inform tenants of any known lead-based paint or related hazards in the home. Federal housing landlords must remove any lead hazards. These rules also apply to the sale of homes built before 1978. Read Lead Paint Disclosure Rule.
The penalties for violating the disclosure and remediation rules are severe:
A Los Angeles landlord who was issued a warning faces $506,924 in penalties;
Several other California landlords are facing penalties of $165,984 to $203,380; and
The owners of a 350-unit subsidized complex in New Jersey are facing $1 million or more after failing to provide disclosures and to undergo inspections for six years.
Two landlords in North Carolina also face similar penalties from last month’s crackdown.
HUD estimates that 30 million homes in the U.S. contain some environmental hazard.
In addition to the federal lead paint rules, many states have enacted similar or more restrictive laws for lead paint and other environmental hazards. Lead poisoning is a preventable injury. In addition to civil penalties, landlords who fail to mitigate these hazards face lawsuits for personal injury which can reach into the millions of dollars, and risk depressed property values and difficulty selling or refinancing investment properties.
For more on lead paint disclosures, including a link to the sample disclosure form, see our post, Lead-Paint Disclosure Rules for Landlords.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.