The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (aka Lead Paint Laws)
Under MA law and regulation, owners of residential rental property with lead hazards or unknown lead are put in a “Catch-22”: you can’t discriminate against families with children, but you can’t have them live there either: you must delead.
If we could wave a magic wand, we would probably want to eliminate lead entirely. It has no useful purpose in the human body. The degree to which it harms children at high blood lead levels is not disputed. The degree to which it harms at low levels is disputed. Since we are not doctors, our job as owners is to follow the regulations as set, and MassLandlords will work to make sure the regulations are the best possible public policy.
Contrary to popular belief, children do not eat lead paint chips. Lead paint dust falls off of windows, doors, and other surfaces and lands on toys or surfaces. Kids touch the toys and touch their nose and mouth, or put their fingers in their mouth. Once there the lead accumulates.
The lead paint law in Massachusetts is called the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. There is a Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (pronounced “Clip”). The Department of Public Health produces regulations that govern when and how we landlords must delead.
The lead laws in Massachusetts are some of the strictest in the country, and they’re working. The number of serious lead poisoning cases has declined.
Children get exposure to lead in their daycare, in their back yards, and sometimes even in their drinking water (think Flint Michigan). But unless a landlord has a deleading certificate, he or she will be strictly liable for all lead paint damages suffered by a little kid, wherever the little kid actually came into contact with lead. That’s not totally fair, is it? Oh well.
Deleading is enormously expensive. Ninety percent of quotes to make a single apartment “lead safe” will fall between $3,000 and $30,000. Average might be around $10,000 per unit.
All this is why deleading is such a big issue. Lives and businesses are at stake. If your apartments aren’t deleaded, you need to figure out how to do it.
The lead regulations changed December 1, 2017
- Lead Regulations Expected to Change December 1 (published before December 1, the regulations did change as expected)