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N.H. Landlord Fined and Will Take Steps to Reduce Risk of Lead Poisoning

Release Date: 01/08/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Jan. 8, 2009) - A Manchester based landlord, Biren Properties, Inc., will pay a penalty and take action to reduce the risk of lead poisoning at apartment buildings in Manchester, N.H. This will settle EPA claims that Biren violated lead paint disclosure laws when it rented certain properties in Manchester without providing tenants with lead paint disclosure information.

Under the settlement, Biren will pay a $3,794 penalty and complete window and door replacements and other interior abatement work to address known or presumed lead-based paint at three properties located in Manchester. The abatement work will cost at least $34,146. To receive credit for completed abatement work, the settlement requires Biren to hire a licensed lead-inspector/risk-assessor to conduct post-abatement clearance inspections at the properties – all built in the early 1900s – to ensure that no lead-based paint hazards remain after the work is done.

"Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because so much of our housing is older and may contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint.”

The violations were identified during the course of an investigation that EPA began in August 2007 and were included in a complaint filed by EPA in August 2008. EPA claimed that Biren did not comply with federal laws that require property owners, managers and sellers to provide information about lead-based paint and paint hazards before the lease or sale of any housing built before 1978.

Biren took prompt action to comply with the federal disclosure requirements once EPA started its investigation and worked cooperatively with EPA to reach a speedy settlement.

The purpose of the Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so they can make informed decisions about whether to lease or purchase the housing.

Federal law requires that landlords and sellers who lease or sell housing built before 1978 comply with the following:

-provide a lead hazard information pamphlet that can help renters and buyers protect themselves from lead poisoning;
-include lead notification language in sales and rental forms;
-disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the housing and provide available reports to renters or buyers;
-allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and
-maintain records of compliance with federal laws for a period of three years.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. Pregnant women are also vulnerable because lead exposure before or during pregnancy can alter fetal development and cause miscarriages. Adults with high lead levels can suffer high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain. Childhood lead exposure is a particularly acute problem for urban children of low-income families who live in older housing.

For more information on lead hazard issues in New England, see:
http://www.epa.gov/ne/topics/pollutants/lead.html .

For additional information on the lead-based paint disclosure rule, see:
http://www.epa.gov/ne/enforcement/leadpaint/index.html .