New lead-based paint rule now in effect (OR: May 2010)

by Lorie Garland
Vice President
Legal Services

REALTORS who manage residential property need to be aware of new federal lead-based paint regulations that went into effect on April 22, 2010. These regulations involve renovations to pre-1978 properties that disturb paint and require not only disclosure, but now also the certification of persons doing renovations.

Homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. It has been found that lead exposure can cause serious health issues, especially for children. Children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to their brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems and slowed growth.

Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard.  However, peeling, chipping, or cracking lead-based paint can be the source of lead exposure for young children. Common renovation activities like sanding or cutting of a painted surface can create lead dust and chips which can be harmful to adults and children. To protect against this risk, the EPA has developed regulations aimed at preventing lead poisoning caused by renovation or repairs to pre-78 housing. The regulations require that if the renovation or repair work disturbs more than six square feet of painted surface per room for interior work or 20 square feet of painted surface for exterior work, the owner and tenants (if rental property) must receive information on lead-based paint hazards prior to beginning the renovation. Also, as of April 22, contractors performing the renovation must be certified and must follow lead-safe work practices.

These regulations apply to renovators of pre-78 housing. A renovator is defined as an individual who either performs the work or directs workers who perform renovations.

This would include a contractor hired to do a renovation as well as a property management company who does the repair or renovation work on a residential property they manage.

The pre-renovation notification requirement to the property owner and tenants is not a new requirement.  Since 1999, renovators of pre-78 housing have been required to provide information regarding lead-based paint hazards. The original EPA lead pamphlet was entitled “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and is the pamphlet required in the sale or lease of pre-78 housing. On Dec. 22, 2008, a new pamphlet was developed for renovations. The new pamphlet to be used for renovations is entitled “Renovate Right.”  Renovators (including property managers who perform renovations) are still required to document their compliance with the notification requirement and retain this documentation for a three-year period.

As of April 22, 2010, renovators are required to be certified, their employees must be trained in use of lead-safe work practices, and lead-safe work practices that minimize lead hazards must be followed. A renovator can become certified by taking an eight hour course from an EPA accredited trainer. A firm can apply for certification. Firm and renovator certifications are valid for five years. Contractors and property management companies that provide repair or renovation work that disturbs a painted surface are required to be properly certified. However, if a property manager does not perform the work, but instead hires a contractor to do so, the property manager should make sure the contractor it hires is properly certified.

A certified firm that performs renovations must ensure that all individuals performing work that disturbs a painted surface be either certified renovators or have been trained by a certified renovator. A certified renovator must be assigned to each renovation and make sure that all required lead-safe work practices are followed. Lead-safe work practices include work area containment requirements, prohibition of certain work practices like open-flame burning and thorough clean up requirements. A certified firm must ensure that the Renovate Right pamphlet is properly provided and that all recordkeeping requirements are met.

For additional information on the lead-based paint renovation requirements, including the Renovate Right pamphlet, the EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right, the application for firm certification, and a list of accredited training providers in Ohio, go to the EPA website at www.epa.gov/lead. The National Association of REALTORS has developed guidance videos for agents and brokers and property managers which can be viewed at www.realtor.org.