Deleading Regulations Changing on December 1st, 2017, Residential Landlords Must Read!

Deleading Regulations Changing on December 1st, 2017, Residential Landlords Must Read!

The lead laws in Massachusetts are changing and they will effect residential landlords.  As your property manager it is my job to stay on top of these things.  The following post is mostly composed of excerpts from official sources (mass.gov website, legal blogs, licensed deleaders, attorneys, etc.), and all have been cited so you can see them in their entirety.

Lets recap the most important aspects of the law that will not change:

  • Officially known as: 105 CMR 460.000: LEAD POISONING PREVENTION AND CONTROL.  Sources tell me we should have the final amended draft of the law soon, I will attach a link once we do have it.
  • Required Federal Lead Warning Statement (must be given to all tenants): Housing built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint.  See the entire disclosure here
    • The law only applies to homes built before 1978
  • As a landlord you are responsible if a child under the age of six living at your property is found to have toxic levels of lead in their blood or lead poisoning.  In other words, if you can not prove that your property was in compliance with the lead laws prior to a child under the age of six moving in then you will be held liable.
    • Keep in mind a few scenarios you may want to consider even if you did not rent to a person who has a child under the age of six: the tenant is pregnant and you were unaware, the tenant becomes pregnant during the course of the lease term, the tenant gains full custody of a child under the age of six, adoption, etc.¹

Changes to the law and how it will effect landlords —  as of December 1, 2017.

A final memo on the proposed changes to the law was issued by the Department of Public Health in September.  The memo states, in part:

The proposed amendments would remove the deleading standard for a small number of surfaces, specifically some surfaces currently considered “accessible/mouthable”, which could substantially reduce deleading costs.

Accessible, Mouthable Surfaces. DPH proposes to redefine these surfaces to include only window sills, doors, door jambs, stair and handrails, treads and risers. Other types of surfaces that were previously included in this definition, for example, wall corners, have been removed.

105 CMR 460.020: Local health departments and environmental groups recommended adding a definition for Friction Surfaces … includes doors, door jambs, and stair treads. The definition of Accessible, Mouthable Surfaces was revised to remove these surfaces and include only window sills under 5 feet from the floor, handrails, and railing caps.

Department of Public Health Memo on Lead Poisoning

How will this impact the costs associated with deleading a property?

It is currently estimated to cost between $3,000 -$10,000 per unit to delead.  I recently spoke to a deleading contractor who told me their minimum daily rate is about $1,000.  An article submitted by masslanldords.net offered the following opinion about how the proposed changes will impact costs:

According to one source at CLPPP who asked to remain anonymous, they have estimated this as a 40% cost reduction. We spoke with experts in the field, who also asked to remain anonymous, and there was general agreement that door and window casings were a significant savings.

You may find the entire article here, which was submitted to the website and offered as an opinion by the writer, but it is still an interesting perspective on the matter.

Another significant change is that the new regulations are a bit more relaxed when it comes to surfaces that contain lead paint, are above five feet, and are in tact.  Commentary offered in an article by WGBH news:

The proposed change in the laws are going to make the abatement standards much less stringent than they are,” said John MacIsaac, whose business, ASAP Environmental, tests homes for lead… The new regulations may make homes safer. They don’t focus as much on removing lead from places where paint is intact and unreachable, which run up the cost. They target things like chipping paint and windows, which are riskiest for kids. 

We can make it safe for families, lower the cost, and we think as a result of that more people are going to get inspections done, because they’re not going to be afraid it’s going to cost them tens of thousands of dollars to bring the property into compliance.

You may find the entire article here on the WGBH website

 


For complete information on the regulations, the final memo, and more, please visit the official state website on this matter.  You can check back in for other information as it becomes available.  

My opinions²

I have read through the Final Redline Regulations, which you may find by clicking on the above link, but it is some hefty and rather dry reading.  A few items did stand out.

First, I noticed they are completely doing away with certain exterior surfaces.  I think this lessens the burden on landlords without endangering children.  They are deleting an entire paragraph governing the procedure for removing lattice work on the exterior of homes.  And I have come across this personally.  Here is a photo of a property I manage.  The sections in green did not contain lead paint, however the sections in pink did.  The part BEHIND the pink actually did not contain lead paint, so you can see it was a small section.  We had to hire a contractor to remove the lattice and wrap the posts in aluminum (per the current law).

 

You still can not have chipping lead paint on any surface (interior or exterior) however under the revised regulations we would have been able to “stabilize the chipping paint” versus wrapping the posts.  And in case you’re wondering, removing the posts were not an options because they were structural, weight-bearing posts.  This would have significantly reduced the cost to the owner.

Second, the above referenced added term (Friction Surfaces) and revised term (Accessible, Mouthable Surfaces) are helpful .  It helps to clarify which parts of a window may be safely encapsulated and which parts must be completely replaced.

Lastly, the proposed changes were ultimately introduced to keep children safe.  Many components of the new regulation have to do with mandatory screening and lowering the “acceptable level” of lead in a child’s blood, although it is widely accepted and understood that any level of lead in a child’s system is not really safe.

Final thoughts & additional resources

It is important to stay informed and to understand how the changes to the regulation will effect you as a landlord.  As your property manager, rental agent, income property expert, and self-proclaimed lover of reading case law, you should check in on my blog, Facebook page, and more for updates on this matter and others.

Other good sources for information:

ASAP Environmental, Inc.

Mass.gov FAQ’s on lead poisoning

MA Case Law regarding lead poising

MA Attorney General Press Release — Landlord ordered to pay $75,000 fine AND delead all apartments he owns (don’t be like this guy)

 

As always, please reach out if you need help renting your apartment & securing a qualified tenant.


¹ You may not discriminate against a prospective tenant who is pregnant.  You may not deny an application from an otherwise qualified prospective tenant based solely on the fact that they are pregnant or have a child under the age of six.   You may not terminate a lease early based solely on the fact that the tenant becomes pregnant or gains custody of a child.  You should contact an attorney if you have any questions on this matter.

² “My Opinions” represent the authors personal interpretation of the changes in the law.  You should contact an attorney for clarification.

Disclaimer:  This post should not be a substitute for legal advice on this matter.  This blog is meant to inform landlords and tenants alike that the laws and regulations are changing.  This blog was composed of articles found online and Sloane Realty Group does not guarantee the referenced articles as factual interpretations of the law.  You should contact an attorney or the State Board governing the enforcement and drafting of the regulations named herein.

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Shannon McCullough

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