Illinois landlord agrees to perform lead abatement work in 463 housing units
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a settlement with Wilmette Real Estate & Management Company, LLC; WR Property Management, LLC; 14 affiliated limited liability companies and Mr. Cameel Halim in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.
According to HUD and EPA, these owners and management companies in Chicago and Evanston, IL violated the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (Residential Lead Act) and implementing regulations (Lead Disclosure Rule) by failing to properly inform some tenants that their homes may contain potentially dangerous levels of lead. The City of Chicago Department of Public Health issued lead abatement notices for approximately 22 properties owned or managed by the companies.
As a result of the settlement, Mr. Halim and the 16 companies will replace windows or remove lead-based paint from the windows in 14 buildings containing 463 units, and abate friction and impact porch surfaces and stabilize deteriorating lead-based paint on remaining porch surfaces in 10 buildings, within five years (see attached lists). In addition to the estimated $2.3 million of window replacement/abatement and porch remediation work, Mr. Halim and the companies will also pay a $125,000 civil monetary penalty.
“It’s absolutely critical that families have the right information so that they can protect their children’s health,” said Jon L. Gant, Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. “This settlement sends a message to landlords of housing across the country that they make sure to properly disclose the required lead information to the families they rent to.”
"Through these enforcement actions, EPA is sending a clear message to landlords and property managers that protecting children from exposure to lead-based paint is one of our highest priorities," EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said.
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 is one of the primary federal enforcement tools to prevent lead poisoning in young children. The Lead Disclosure Rule, authorized by the Residential Lead Act, requires home sellers and landlords of housing built before 1978 to provide an EPA-approved “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home” pamphlet and warn of the hazards of lead-based paint to purchasers and tenants. In addition sellers and landlords must share knowledge of lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards on a disclosure form that both parties must sign and provide any available records or reports. The form should be attached to the sales contract or lease. Sellers must also provide purchasers with an opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection and/or risk assessment at the purchaser’s expense. Acceptable lead disclosure forms can be found at www.hud.gov/offices/lead/dislcosurerule and www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadbase.htm.
Health Effects of Lead-Based Paint
Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, poorer hearing, and a host of other health problems in young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have found that even at low levels, lead exposure in children can significantly impact IQ and even delay puberty in young girls.
At higher levels lead can irreversibly damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 250,000 American children have elevated blood-lead levels.
Eliminating lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 housing is essential if childhood lead poisoning is to be eradicated. Although the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning has dropped significantly, the risk to children in low-income, older housing without federal assistance remains high. HUD estimates about 23 million homes still contain significant lead-based paint hazards with the potential to poison young children.
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