Administrative Law Judge Rules that York County Landlord Violated Lead Disclosure Rule
An administrative law judge ruled that York County landlord John P. Vidiksis violated the federal Lead Disclosure Rule when he failed to disclose lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards in lease and sales documents. The judge also ordered Vidiksis to pay the full penalty amount of $97,545 for a total of 69 violations.
The violations involved 16 housing properties, built prior to 1978, located in York, Pa. and arose out of 34 lease transactions and one real estate sale. Children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had lived in four of the properties, which triggered lead inspections by the City of York Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPP). Each of those inspections resulted in violation letters, inspection reports and associated correspondence sent to Vidiksis. However, in subsequent rental and sale transactions, Vidiksis failed to disclose the violations to potential tenants and buyers.
In addition to his failure to disclose lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards in his lease and sales transactions, Vidiksis did not provide the required federal lead-warning statement to tenants in the lease agreement or as an attachment. Instead, Vidiksis used his own Lead Paint Notice (statement,) which EPA argued was not sufficient. Agreeing with EPA’s analysis, the judge held that Vidiksis’ “lead paint notice was not an equivalency and did not otherwise satisfy the required contents of the (lead warning) statement under the federal regulation.”
The Lead Disclosure Rule requires landlords, property management companies, real estate agencies, and sellers to inform potential tenants and buyers of the presence of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 housing (lead was taken out of paint in 1978). This ensures that potential tenants and home buyers are receiving the information necessary to protect themselves and their families from lead-based paint hazards prior to them being obligated to purchase or rent pre-1978 housing.
Children are especially susceptible to the risks of lead poisoning, both because of a higher probability of ingestion of lead particles and because of a higher degree of vulnerability. Lead poisoning can cause serious damage to developing organs, particularly nervous systems. In addition to health problems such as kidney damage and hearing loss, links have been established between high blood levels of lead and cognitive impairment and behavioral problems.
Even if tenants don’t have written contracts, written disclosure documents are still required as part of the transaction. The federal Lead Disclosure Rule embodies the idea that someone exposed to risks has the right to know about it. Properly informed tenants and purchasers can take action to prevent exposure, including reducing the generation of dust from lead-containing surfaces, or choosing not to reside in the housing.
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