An Act to Further Lead Remediation in Rental Housing by Increasing the Deleading Credit

Summary

Lead remediation is an important part of creating safe rental housing, but it is also very expensive. This bill would increase the current deleading credit offered by the state from $1,500 to $15,000. This increased credit will contribute to increased lead remediation in rental housing in Massachusetts.

Supported by Staff
MassLandlords staff drafted or participated materially in the creation of bill text below. Members will be polled at the next update of the policy priorities survey.

 

Deleading Bill FAQ

Why $15,000?

The current amount authorized in the law is $1,500. This law was written in the 1970s. (The lead credit may not have been enacted until 1988; we're trying to find the history.) If this amount had been adjusted for inflation, it would now need to be approximately $6,000. $6,000 would be consistent with the average cost to delead a unit in 2022. But if windows are involved, the costs to delead averaged close to $1,000 per window. A typical three-decker apartment has 15 windows per unit. So the intent here is to eliminate barriers to deleading, including properties with lead painted windows.

How many properties are already deleaded?

To the best of our knowledge, only approximately 10% to 20% of addresses have deleading certificates on file.

Aren't landlords required to delead?

Yes, under Massachusetts law, landlords cannot refuse to rent to a family with children under the age of six. And children under the age of six may not live in an apartment with lead hazards, whether known or unknown. But enforcement is relatively non-existent. Although discrimination cases are raised against owners who refuse to rent to children, it takes approximately three years for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) to resolve a discrimination complaint. Also, even if a landlord is fined, they might still not have the capital to safely remove the lead hazards.

Increasing the lead credit would create a powerful market incentive to do the right thing, even absent adequate enforcement. Increasing the lead credit would make it possible to eliminate lead paint as a public health concern finally now after 50 years of work.

Who would vote against this?

We don't have good visibility into state budgeting, but presumably someone will look at our current tax revenue or shortfall and decide whether this bill can be sustained or if a lower amount is required. Given the historic budget surplus of 2022, and the fact that this credit has not been increased in 50 years, we feel increased public funding for deleading is long overdue.

Bill Numbers

Please Ask your Representative and Senator to Co-sponsor
Representatives willing to help should co-sponsor HD2630. Senators willing to help should co-sponsor SD862.

Find my legislator.

Full Text and Explanation of the Deleading Bill

Bill Text May Change
The legislative process involves many changes to most bills. Our goal with bill explainers like this is to communicate core concepts assuming final wording is beyond our control. If you feel we missed or misunderstood a core concept about this bill, please contribute to this explainer by emailing hello@masslandlords.net or by using the support widget on this page. Pointing out typos or poor drafting is appreciated on green bills (we wrote or support).
This bill would amend Section 6(e) of MGL Chapter 62. It would replace the words "one thousand five hundred dollars" with "$15,000," increasing the deleading credit to roughly the cost of a three-decker apartment with leaded windows. That's it!

MassLandlords Talking Points

  1. Massachusetts was a nationwide leader when we enacted our deleading law in the '70s.
    • Unfortunately, we haven't increased the amount of public funding available for deleading in 50 years.
    • The tax credit is currently $1,500 per unit, which reflects 1970s (or 1980s) deleading costs.
    • By inflation alone, it should now be $6,000.
    • If a unit has windows, windows have gotten expensive faster than inflation, that's a $15,000 deleading job easily.
  2. Massachusetts and the CDC have lowered the blood lead level that constitutes poisoning.
    • It used to be 50 micrograms per deciliter.
    • Now we know how dangerous lead is. The reference level of concern is now 3.5 micrograms per deciliter.
    • We know deleading credits work. We've dramatically reduced the worst lead poisoning with deleading credits.
    • The curve is flattening out, though. We're not seeing reductions in poisonings. Many units are still not deleaded.
  3. We don't know what Fiscal Year 2023 will bring, but Fiscal Year 2022 had a record surplus.
    • It seems like we're long overdue for increased public funding of deleading.

See Also

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