The Environmental Protection Agency’s filed over two-dozen enforcement actions against landlords and property-management companies that didn’t tell tenants about lead paint in the property they rented. The E-P-A’s Crystal Harriel says there’s a law that they must disclose where the material was used before manufacturers quit making it, about 25 years ago. The regulations govern commercial properties, any place rented out that was built before 1978.
She explains the agency has a couple ways of finding homes where the risk is present. The agency does some random inspections, but also gets reports from health departments about children who’ve been poisoned by the toxic metal, found by testing to have elevated blood-lead levels. The 25 companies were penalized amounts ranging from 250-dollars to 15-thousand-400 dollars.
The agency does not, however, force them to demolish the homes or even remove the old lead-based paint — just to document that they alert any renter that it’s there. Harriel says it’s EPA’s way of “spreading the word” and allowing consumers to make informed choices about their housing, and protect their children from the hazards of lead-based paint. There were just two notified in 2005, both of them in the Quad Cities. They receive a notification by mail from the EPA and can call to discuss it, and the penalty they face depends on the size of the unit and how many they manage. The 25 “enforcement actions” against property owners or managers were in EPA’s Region 76, which includes Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.