Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Feds Sink Claws Into Illinois Landlord For Failure To Comply w/ Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rules Before Renting Homes; Landlord Commits To Performing $308,000 In Abatement Work On His 50 Rental Homes After At Least 7 Young Kids Were Found w/ Elevated Blood Lead Levels

The Department of Housing & Urban Development recently announced:
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [] announced a settlement with a Rockford, Illinois landlord to resolve a claim he failed to inform tenants, some with young children, that their homes may contain potentially dangerous lead.

    The agreement requires Dennis Hardesty to replace windows and clean up lead‑based paint hazards in 50 rental properties containing a total of 52 units (see attached list of properties). In addition to the $308,000 worth of lead abatement work, Hardesty agreed to pay $5,000 in penalties.

    According to the federal government, Hardesty violated the Federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (Residential Lead Act) by failing to inform tenants that their homes may contain potentially dangerous levels of lead.

    Winnebago County health department officials identified at least seven children with elevated blood lead levels in the properties Hardesty leased. Investigations by the health department identified lead‑based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the units. Going forward, Hardesty will ensure that he will provide information about lead‑based paint to tenants before they are obligated to sign any lease.

    The lead abatement work Hardesty will perform as a result of the settlement includes window replacement and abatement of all friction and impact surfaces, and clearance exams to make those units lead safe for families to rent and live in. HUD will provide ongoing monitoring of Hardesty’s implementation of the settlement agreement, and will share the results with its federal partners for possible further action.
    ***
    The settlement announced today represents the first joint Residential Lead Act enforcement action in Rockford. It was the result of intensive coordination among local health officials and federal investigators. HUD, EPA and the Department of Justice are continuing similar enforcement efforts around the nation.

    As a result of enforcement actions taken thus far, landlords have agreed to conduct lead-based paint hazard reduction in more than 187,000 apartments and to pay $1.5 million in civil penalties. In resolving these cases, landlords have committed to expend more than an estimated $31 million to address lead-based paint hazards in the affected units. In addition, over $700,000 has been provided by defendants to community-based projects to reduce lead poisoning.

    Background

    The Residential Lead Act is one of the primary federal enforcement tools to prevent lead poisoning in young children. The Lead Disclosure Rule requires home sellers and landlords of housing built before 1978 to disclose to purchasers and potential tenants knowledge of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards using a disclosure form [go here for Spanish version], signed by both parties, attached to the sales contract or lease containing the required lead warning statement, provide any available records or reports, and provide an EPA-approved “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home” information pamphlet. Sellers must also provide purchasers with an opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection and/or risk assessment at the purchaser’s expense. Acceptable lead disclosure forms can be found at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadbase.htm.
For more, see U.S. Announces Settlement With Illinois Landlord For Failing To Disclose Potentially Dangerous Lead Hazards (52 apartments to become lead-safe under terms of the agreement).

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