Dealing with Lead-Based Pain in Multifamily Properties
ffective August 2, 2004, a new lead based paint (LBP) regulation wil force NYC property owners to change the way they deal with their LBP in their properties. “Local Law 1 of 2004”, broadens owner’s responsibilities in dealing with LBP issues. The new law dramatically changes and expands upon the owner’s obligations set forth under “Local Law 38 of 1999”. Significant changes include: an increase in the age limit from six to seven years old where inspections are required to take place, a greater responsibility on the owner to determine if a child under seven is residing in the unit, stricter requirements for identifying and reducing lead hazards, less time to correct violations issued by HPD, and the opportunity to obtain tax benefits through J-51 Tax abatements.
The new law affects all multi-family properties built prior to 1960. The regulation affects not only the apartment units, but the common areas and public spaces as well. Owners will be responsible to get yearly written notification from their tenants as to whether a child under seven is living there. The appropriate forms are to be included in new leases and renewals along with a pamphlet on lead hazards and a notice of the owner’s responsibilities. If the tenant does not respond within the allotted time frame, the new law requires the owner to go out and determine for themselves whether a child under seven resides in the unit. Not having knowledge is no longer an excuse for not inspecting. Once it is determined that there is a child under seven living in the unit the owner must visually inspect the unit yearly and whenever a complaint is made by the tenant. If the owner is not provided access to the unit, the new law requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to be notified. If any lead hazards are identified in the unit, the owner will be responsible to correct them using lead safe work practices.
The new law broadens the definition of a lead hazard to include exposure from lead contaminated dust. Workers must be trained in lead safe work practices and a certified EPA firm must be used to perform independent wipe samples. ALl results must be provided to the tenant. In the instance when a tenant complains to HPD of peeling paint and work is done to bring a unit into compliance from an HPD violation, the dust wipe results must also be sent to HPD within 21 days. Upon turnover, the owner must remediate all lead hazards. In addition, any renovation work disturbing over 100 sq. ft., anywhere in the building where a child under seven resides must be filed with the KOHMH.
The city has made available the opportunity for owners to obtain a J-51 tax benefit for the abatement of lead hazards. Please make sure to check with a specialist to identify exactly what adjustments falls under this benefit.
The city has made some types of property and work exempt from this regulation. They include: emergency repairs, owner occupied co-ops and condos, areas where LBP was removed and certified lead free by a licensed inspector and areas certified lead free via XRF analysis or paint chip sampling by a certified firm.
Many owners will find obtaining exemptions by certifying their property lead free cost effective in lieu of performing unnecessary abatement work on presumed LPB. Owner’s should review their strategy in dealing with the new lead regulation with a qualified lead professional in order to better understand their obligations, obtain necessary forms, and develop a solid operations and maintenance plan for their buildings.