Lead Paint On Your Common Area Walls?

Blog posting by David Swedelson, Partner SwedelsonGottlieb; Condo Lawyer and HOA Attorney

As of April 22, 2010, the new Environmental Protection Agency lead paint requirements for most dwelling units and common areas within homeowners associations which were built before 1978 became effective and may impact many California Community Associations.

Under the EPA’s Lead Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Rule, firms who are paid to perform work which “disturbs” paint in non-exempt pre-1978 residential housing and multi-family structures (condominiums, stock cooperatives) must be EPA certified, and all individuals who are actually performing the work must either be certified renovators or must have been trained by a certified renovator. Additionally, all renovations must be performed according to EPA lead-safe standards and practices. (Two additional provisions of the law are already in effect – EPA specified notification requirements to owners and occupants, and EPA record keeping requirements.)

The requirements of the new rule apply to all “renovations”, and the law defines that term very broadly to include most repairs, remodeling, and maintenance activities, including window replacements. Additionally, electrical, plumbing and carpentry work could also be subject to the law.

So if your association has on staff construction personnel on staff, and there is lead in the paint on your common area walls (exteriors and corridors), and your staff is not EPA certified, then they cannot do any work that disturbs the lead paint.

There are some exemptions to the law’s requirements, including the following:
• Housing built in 1978 or later.
• Housing for elderly or disabled persons, unless children under six reside or are expected to reside there.
• Zero bedroom dwellings (studio apartments, dormitories, etc.).
• Housing or components declared to be lead-free by a certified inspector or risk assessor.
• Minor repair and maintenance activities that disturb 6 square feet or less of paint per room inside, or 20 square feet or less on the exterior of a home or building. However, minor repair and maintenance activities do not include window replacement and projects involving demolition or prohibited practices.

And where the firm doing the work obtains a signed statement from the owner that all of the following are met, then the training, certification and work practice requirements of the rule do not apply:

• The renovation will occur in the owner’s residence • No child under age 6 resides there;
• No woman who is pregnant resides there;
• The housing is not a child-occupied facility; and • The owner acknowledges that the renovation firm will not be required to use the work practices contained in the EPA rule.

It is important to note that there are severe penalties for violations of this law, including fines of up to $32,000 per violation, per day.

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