MARYLAND’S LEAD PAINT RISK REDUCTION PROGRAM
For up to the minute changes, please visit our Community Links page and click on Government and Maryland Dept of the Environment. In 2011, the Maryland Court of Appeals struck-down the protections landlords receive under the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. In addition, the law was expanded to require registration of all pre-1978 rental properties and/or to increase the registration fee.
Effective February 24, 1996, all rental units constructed prior to 1978 (construction date is considered to be the date the construction permit was issued) must be registered with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). If you have not registered, you should contact MDE at 1-800-776-2706.
It is illegal to rent a pre-1978 property without a disclosure of any known lead-based paint as well as test result. Testing is required for all pre-1950 properties.
There are two types of acceptable lead test under this law. There are other lead tests, but they are not accepted. The tests are a Dust Wipe and the XRF or X-Ray Fluorescent test. Remember, the law was written to protect landlords and that protection has now evaporated, so we must approach testing differently, as a result.
In the past, the Dust Wipe may have indicated that the levels of lead dust, at the time of testing, were “acceptable”. We could get them into the acceptable range by merely washing horizontal surfaces before testing. Today, there is no acceptable level of lead dust. In order for a tenant to sue the landlord, they simply need to prove three things:
1. A member of the household has elevated blood lead levels; 2. There is a presence of lead-based paint anywhere in or on the property; 3. They have occupied the property for more than 30 days.
So, having lead paint puts the landlord at risk even if the paint is in good condition. The tenant may have inhaled or consumed lead elsewhere, but meets the three requirements to lay blame on the landlord.
Because of this, we are now recommending (requiring, if we are to manage the property) that an XRF test be performed. The XRF will involve reading through 26 layers of paint and the testing of hundreds of interior and exterior components. The test report will identify specifically where lead-based paint was found. Then, using an MDE-Qualified Lead Paint Abatement Contractor, those components may be replaced, stripped or encapsulated. Only then is the landlord in a position to successfully defend a lead poisoning lawsuit.
The cost of an XRF ranges from about $300 to $500 or more, depending upon the size of the property.
We often hear owners say that they tested the property when they bought it. That’s nice, but the usual home test does not meet the requirements under this rental property law.
Is that all? Almost. Each lease entered into after February 24, 1996 must include a disclosure form (to comply with EPA regulations), an EPA brochure on lead-based paint in homes plus a brochure provided by the Maryland Department of the Environment. You will receive these when you register the property and you may use photo copies as needed for future use. Finally, if the same tenant remains in the property for two years, you must provide additional copies of the EPA and MDE brochures again, every two years.
If you are a Landlord who does his or her own maintenance, you may wonder whether you can perform these treatments yourself. The answer is maybe. If you are actually about to become a Landlord and currently live in the to – be – rental – unit, you may perform the treatments, but an accredited Supervisor must certify, in writing, that the treatments were performed correctly AND there must be a visual inspection performed by an accredited inspector. Landlords can obtain a list of approved testing and abatement companies from the MDE or by calling MMI.
But wait, now the feds have gotten involved. Even if you are the owner of the rental property, if the property was built before 1978, in order to work on projects that will disturb painted surfaces, you will have to be certified under the EPA’s RRP (Repair, Renovation and Painting) Rule. If you disturb paint and you are not certified, the EPA is levying fines in the $10s of thousands per violation–and each area you disturb is a separate violation. No owner or contractor may work on ANY pre-1978 property–rental or otherwise–without the RRP certification.
It’s clearly best to test and leave the corrective measures to qualified contractors. The risk is simply too great to take the chance.
Oh, you ask, “What are the chances? According to the June 1995 REPORT ON THE NATIONAL SURVEY OF LEAD-BASED PAINT IN HOUSING Appendix II: Analysis conducted jointly by HUD and the EPA, here’s your answer: