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landlord helpPhiladelphia’s City Council wants to get tough on lead paint exposure.  To do so, they are targeting landlords.

A new amendment to the existing lead paint disclosure requirements adds a costly layer of bureaucracy, prompting a local apartment association to put up a fight.

The amendment requires that every rental property built pre-1978 must be certified as either lead-free, or lead-safe.  By definition, the property is not lead-safe or lead-free if it was built before 1978 and the landlord cannot demonstrate there is not lead on any surface.

A property is deemed lead-safe if there are no current conditions that could cause lead poisoning.  Once a landlord obtains this rating, they must renew the certification every 12 months, except where an existing tenant renews the lease.

Each tenant must be given a disclosure of whether the property is lead-free or lead-safe at lease signing. Proof of the disclosure must be signed by the tenant, and a copy submitted to the city.   If this doesn’t happen, the consequences are dire:

The city will have the right to inspect the property, and charge the landlord the cost.

The tenant will have the right to go to court and force the landlord to have the inspection, and to eliminate any lead risks.

Meanwhile, the tenant will be entitled to a full rent abatement for the time they lived in the uncertified property, and the landlord cannot charge rent going forward until the inspection.

Additionally, the tenant is entitled to damages and attorneys fees.

According to the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia, it just doesn’t add up.

In a statement on its website, the Association claims this bill “only adds unnecessary, expensive requirements to the huge array of regulations already in place that have had enormous success in dramatically reducing the cases of children with elevated blood lead levels.” It is encouraging local landlords to contact city council representatives in the hopes of taking the legislation off the table.

The Association argues that tenants already have information they need to protect themselves, that they have the right to get out of a lease if lead is discovered, and new federal laws cover renovation, repairs or maintenance that might expose tenants to new risks of exposure.

“This bill will affect every rental unit in the City and drive up everyone’s costs, including low income renters, seniors, students and families,” according to the Association.  “Decent rental housing will be much more expensive and much harder to find.”

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at

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  • Call it what it is: a socialist shakedown. DEMOCRATS in Philly figured they can soak landlords for extra revenue. Don’t forget lead abatement can only be done by Democrat approved lead abatement types.

  • Frank C

    If the city is making the accusation that a landlord has lead paint on their property isn’t the burden of proof the city’s responsibility? I think there may be some constitutional issues here!!!! I really do not see the logic in re-certifying on an annual basis, do these guys think that once someone goes through the expense of abatement that they are going to some how put the lead back?

    Why are we electing such dumb a–es? Don’t our tenants know that there choice of candidate has an effect on how much they pay for rent? ( i.e. taxes, bank bailouts, dumb laws like this one…..)

  • GARY

    Frank C. says it all – couldn’t agree more. Why do we elect these morons? Because we’re basically apathetic. Nobody connects the dots relating regulation to rental rates. And, if they did, most of the voting public who are neither landlords or renters couldn’t care less.

  • Perhaps, there’ll be a REVOLUTION…….

  • Keith Kennedy

    Just follow the money. This has nothing to do with “protecting” anybody.

  • IBQuig

    A few years ago there was a big push for people to get into the lead safe program as inspectors, risk assessors, etc. Many people did only to find out that the need is far, far less than the promoters and fear mongers said were required.

    Now that they have invested thousands in training and equipment they’re lobbying for standards that will keep them in business. This has little to do with protecting people and more to do with finding work for a new level of bureaucrats looking for solutions that need a problem.

  • mark

    Persons who use the term lead free are wrong. As you know, everything (or most everything) has some level of lead. So OSHA regs always apply, even when below lead-based paint definition (5000 ppm).

    HUD and EPA both use the term lead-safe to mean no lead hazards, as defined by:

    1. No deteriorated lead paint on components.

    2. No contaminated dust over 40 ug/ft on floor and 250 ug/ft interior surfaces.

    3. Exterior, no contaminated soil 400 ppm child access, 1,200 other (but CA has 1000 ppm— guess you know why)

    4. No paint debris in soil.

    Landlords would be best to remove debris, & maintain the paint on surfaces inside and outside the buildings.

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