EPA Slaps Hefty Fines For Not Giving Lead Paint Disclosures

SPOA Attribution for MassLandlords.net Blog ArticleIn 2011, the EPA announced that a property management company and three owners of rental property in and around the area of Holyoke, Mass., were facing EPA penalties of up to $16,000 per lead paint disclosure violation. That’s per violation! With 27 counts of violating the lead paint disclosure requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act (1976) when they rented 11 housing units at 10 properties over four years, the fines could potentially amount to $432,000 in penalties, plus attorney fees! The penalties were for simple paperwork violations only. No mention of anyone actually being harmed.

The violations include failing to give tenants required lead hazard pamphlets, failing to include lead warning statements in leases, failing to disclose statements regarding lead paint or lead paint hazards, and failing to provide records or reports pertaining to lead paint or lead paint hazards in the apartments or common areas. The article from the EPA does not mention any actual harm to tenants. These penalties are for simply not warning tenants in writing about the risks of lead paint.

More recently, a Boston landlord who owns and manages at least eight properties with at least 19 rental units faces penalties of $84,600 for 14 paperwork violations of the same federal lead paint disclosure rules at four of his apartments in Roxbury and Dorchester.

The Federal lead disclosure law requires that property owners, property managers, and real estate agents leasing housing built before 1978 provide specific information to tenants BEFORE signing a lease. The required material includes an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet called “Protecting Your Family from Lead in Your Home” (downloadable copy). In Massachusetts, a tenant must sign a Tenant Lead Law Notification (downloadable copy, click on the MA Lead Law and Legal Documents, then click on Tenant Lead Law Notification). Along with this form, owners must include statements disclosing any known lead-based paint hazards and copies of all available records or inspection reports regarding lead paint and/or lead paint hazards in the property.

It is very important that all spaces on the form are filled out; blank spaces are considered violations. Write N/A or “not applicable” in the space. This information must be provided to tenants and buyers BEFORE they sign leases.

The EPA clawed into the owners’ records, going back four years to 2007. We suggest that all landlords carefully keep all records for a long time, even if tenants have moved, in order to show that they gave lead paint notices to all their tenants.

2 Responses to EPA Slaps Hefty Fines For Not Giving Lead Paint Disclosures

  1. Mia Evans says:

    I find it interesting when you said that it is required in the Federal disclosure law that property owners, managers, and agents should give the necessary information to tenants before they rent a place built before 1978. I will share this information with my husband so that we know what to expect when looking for a place to rent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the things we probably want to get are lead inspection services to ensure the safety fo the kids when we move there.

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