The MD Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Law went into effect on February 24, 1996. The law's intent is to reduce the incidence of childhood lead poisoning while maintaining a stock of affordable rental housing. The implementation of the law was phased in over time, and now all rental houses built in 1978 or earlier must comply unless they are certified lead free.
The requirements for landlords of affected properties include the following:
- Register the property each year with the MD Department of the Environment (MDE) and pay a $30 fee. This is done at the MDE office in Baltimore, by calling 410.537.4199 or visiting their Web site at www.mde.state.md.us
- Deliver to tenants copies of the MDE's Notice of Tenant's Rights Pamphlet AND the EPA's Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home pamphlet at the start of tenancy and every two years thereafter. Both of these are also available at the Baltimore Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Web site Link
- Deliver to the tenants a copy of the current inspection certificate for the home upon execution/signing of the lease.
- Complete risk reduction treatments in the property prior to occupancy change and have the property inspected by a MD licensed inspector. You can get the currently licensed inspector contact information from the MDE's Lead Paint Inspection and Abatement Providers Web Link
Full risk reduction treatments are codified in MD Annotated Code, Environment §6-815 (hyperlink to applicable annotated code) Generally, these measures include repairs required to eliminate hazards caused by chipping, peeling, or flaking lead-based paint on the interior or exterior surfaces of the affected home. This is verified through the passing of a lead dust test and receiving an inspection certificate from an MDE licensed inspector. Note that many jurisdictions also require this certificate prior to issuing the required rental license to the landlord.
Not just any contractor can do the repairs required to comply with full risk reduction. The qualifications and authority to do this type of work is regulated by both the EPA and the MDE. Moreover, both agencies must certify the contractor or company in order for the work to meet the state's minimum requirements. Failure to abide by these regulations can result in expensive fines and possible criminal charges in many jurisdictions. In other words, this is not a DIY project. All work must be supervised and completed by EPA/MDE certified individuals. Moreover, there are different classifications that apply to specific types of risk reduction work. For example, there are two types of supervisory MDE classifications (S2 and S4) and using/hiring the wrong one could invalidate the work and possibly subject the parties involved to fines and litigation. This is especially important if a landlord receives a notice of defect or a notice of elevated blood level. If either of these notices is received, the landlord must complete required risk reduction measures within 30 days or risk revocation of rental license, fines, and/or other civil/criminal penalties. In other words, this is not a situation where finding the lowest bidder is prudent.
We suggest hiring a competent, licensed, and experienced contractor that understands the unique challenges posed to landlords of affected properties. Many contractors know the short deadline and high stakes involved in these types of situations and will leverage this in their pricing/contracts. It's best to do your research up front, before the problem is identified by the local jurisdiction or the tenant's medical provider. The GHHI can provide free, non-adversarial compliance assistance to rental property owners (410.534.6447 or www.ghhi.org).
Tokori is an approved GHHI contractor who relied heavily upon their informational materials in drafting much of this article. The GHHI is a national non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the link between unhealthy housing and residents. The Baltimore GHHI office is located at 2714 Hudson ST in Baltimore, MD.