Getting the Lead Out

It is important for investors in rehab properties to know that as of April, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) has put into effect the Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. What this means to the investor is that if you have purchased a pre-1978 fixer-upper or are planning to upgrade a multi-family housing development built prior to 1978, it is most probable that the paint covering scheduled to be removed will be lead-based.

As the EPA ruling applies to pre-1978 structures, the investor must hire a contractor whose company is Lead-Safe Certified, and at least one of the firm’s employees must have designation as a Certified Renovator.

If the contractor is working on a HUD assisted property, then all of the contractor’s personnel must be certified as well. The rule also applies to schools and child-care facilities that were built prior to 1978.

Any disturbance of lead-based paint by a non-certified worker, including maintenance workers in pre-1978 apartment complexes or by a contracting firm, can result in severe fines, and lengthy jail sentences. Home owner’s who plan on renovating their own lived-in pre 1978 residences are -as of July 6, 2010- subject to these rules as well when hiring a contractor.

Training providers authorized by the EPA provide certification courses to workers in the construction and remodeling fields. EPA training providers have, as of August 2010 trained and certified approximately 455,000 Lead-Safe Certified specialists

These rules were enacted by the EPA to prevent the serious consequences to human health that can occur by the dust released when lead-based paint is disturbed, and lead is particularly hazardous to children.

Exemption from compliance to these regulations are allowed only if an interior area of no more than six square feet or twenty square feet on the exterior of a structure is involved. Housing for the elderly and housing for persons with disabilities are exempt as well, unless a child under six years of age lives in such housing or a child of those years is expected to reside in such housing. Children under six, it has been found, are the most vulnerable to lead paint and lead dust exposure.

More stringent requirements may apply to HUD renovations, and certain states and communities.  Detailed information can be obtained by accessing www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm.

Although the EPA ruling is in effect, the agency will not take punitive action until October 1st 2010, and all certification training must be completed by December 31st 2010.

Investors should use the resources available to them, such as EPA websites, and real estate attorneys who fully comprehend and are up-to-date on the latest Renovation Act rules and amendments, before proceeding with any rehab projects involving pre-1978 properties.