Massachusetts-based Property Manager Charged With Failing to Warn Tenants About Lead Paint
A large Massachusetts-based property management company and several related associates may be subject to a significant penalty for violating federal lead paint disclosure laws. Notifying prospective tenants about potential lead paint hazards in housing helps parents protect young children from ingesting lead.
Chestnut Hill Realty Corp., as well as the owners of properties managed by the company, violated the federal Lead Disclosure Rule when they failed to disclose information about lead paint to people who rented or purchased apartments in 2004 and 2005. The company, based in Chestnut Hill, Mass., manages over 5,000 apartments in both the Boston metropolitan area and Providence, R.I.
“Exposure to lead paint is a serious public health concern for children in New England,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Property managers and owners play an important part in helping to prevent lead poisoning by following lead paint disclosure requirements and making sure families are aware of potential lead hazards in homes.”
The EPA complaint details that the company and their associates failed to inform 135 tenants of known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in apartments, and failed to provide records concerning the lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards to tenants. EPA alleges that Chestnut Hill Realty Corp. also failed to provide 42 tenants with copies of an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet or the Massachusetts Tenant Lead Law Notification. A financial penalty for the the alleged violations has not yet been determined.
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies; reading and learning disabilities; impaired hearing; reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.
This case is among dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken as part of a collaborative effort between federal, state and municipal agencies and grassroots organizations to make sure property owners, property managers and real estate agents are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. EPA has conducted hundreds of inspections in New England, and, in collaboration with its partners, has conducted many compliance assistance workshops in the region for realtors, property managers and legal counsel.
The purpose of the Lead Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so that they can make informed decisions about whether to lease or purchase the housing.
Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 to:
- Provide a lead hazard information pamphlet to inform renters and buyers about the dangers associated with lead paint;
- Include lead notification language in sales and rental forms;
- Disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to buyers or renters;
- Allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and
- Maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years.
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