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A 69 -year-old landlord from Maryland will spend a year and a day in prison, followed by six months of home detention for improper lead paint abatement at rental properties he owned and managed.

The landlord was also charged with failing to disclose to tenants the presence of documented lead-based paint hazards.

According to the prosecuting attorney, the landlord placed children at risk for lead poisoning.

The man owns and manages approximately 175 rental housing units throughout Baltimore. All of the properties were built prior to 1978. The landlord was found individually liable despite operating as a rental company.

An EPA agent commented on the case,Americans need accurate and truthful information in order to make informed decisions about where they will live. Landlords and owners who fail to notify prospective tenants about the hazards of lead poisoning put those tenants at serious risk, as witnessed in this investigation by children with elevated blood lead levels. This sentence should serve notice that anyone who fails to comply with environmental regulations will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Reducing exposure to lead paint dust is the core of Maryland’s highly successful program to prevent lead poisoning. Landlords must follow all laws that protect children from this entirely preventable disease, said MDE Secretary Robert Summers. This criminal sentence and the repeated findings of violations and related penalties issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment puts all property owners on notice that they have a serious responsibility to protect families from the devastating effects of lead poisoning.

The landlord has been in business since 1974. The State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore have issued more than 20 Notices of Violation and compliance orders against him for lead-based paint violations, including situations in which a child with an Elevated Blood Lead Level was documented as living in a rental property. He entered into a number of Consent Decrees with the State and City of Baltimore designed to achieve compliance with applicable lead requirements.

In reaching a plea deal on the charges, the landlord admitted that he failed to disclose to tenants the presence of documented lead-based paint hazards when they rented units he owned and managed. Many of these units had a history of lead-based paint problems. Despite these findings and prior enforcement actions by the State and municipal agencies, prosecuters say the landlord did not provide tenants with the required Lead-Based Paint Notification Disclosure Form and failed to: (a) give prospective tenants an EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards; (b) disclose to prospective tenants any known information concerning lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards, the location of those hazards, and the condition of the relevant surfaces; (c) provide prospective tenants with any records and reports on lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards; and (d) include an attachment to the lease (or to insert relevant language in the lease itself) which provides a Lead Warning Statement and confirms that the landlord has complied with all notification requirements.

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  • GARY CARLSON

    The article makes reference to “exposure” to lead based “dust”. How do painted surfaces in a rental unit become dust?

    ANSWER: THEY DON”T -UNLESS THE TENANT IS GRINDING OR SANDING THE SURFACES.

    What is the real problem?

    ANSWER: TENANTS ALLOW THEIR CHILDREN TO EAT PAINT OFF OF BASEBOARDS AND OTHER SURFACES.

    SOLUTION: REMOVE THE PAINT FROM LEAD BASED SURFACES AND REPLACE WITH A PAINT THAT IS SAFELY EDIBLE. OF COURSE, IT WOULD BE EXPECTING TOO MUCH FOR PARENTS TO EXERCISE ANY CONTROL OVER THEIR CHILDREN.

  • Ron Earthman

    Gary,
    Thanks for hitting the nail on the head.

    Here is another side of this issue. Dirt has lead in it. Could it be possible that the lead poisoning can from the kids playing in the dirt? Heck no! Just blame the landlord. It’s easier.

    Then the govt came out awhile back and told parents to let the kids play in the dirt. The are exposed to bacteria that the body’s immune system will learn to fight off so when they are exposed, they won’t get sick.

    Typical govt. Since they can’t impress us with intelligence, they have to baffle us with BS.

  • W A Clayton

    if you want to stay out of jail:

    1) Give the tenants the required pamphlet and the required forms.

    2) Don’t lie about documented lead, or studies or tests

    If the landlord had done that, he would be out of jail.

  • Scoot

    Fluoride causes lead levels to be high. I don’t know if Baltimore has fluoride added to the water that should be checked. If lead paint if painted over it should be safe.

  • GARY CARLSON

    Ron,
    You’re absolutely correct. By coincidence, I’m a chemist who once worked under an EPA grant. We did a study of lead in soil. Samples taken close to roadways/driveways were, of course, loaded with lead. I also analyzed dishware. Believe it or not, many dishes/cups – especially the bright colored ones – also contained high concentrations. The point is, as you say, that there are many sources of lead in our environment. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many lawsuit targets – just the landlord. Again, the easiest way to protect oneself is to get the lead off of the baseboards and anywhere else it might exist in the rental unit. I only know one thing for sure – the parents aren’t going to do anything constructive. Their job is to look for money in lawsuits.

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