Legal Updates

What is the Philadelphia Lead Paint Ordinance?

WHAT IS THE PHILADELPHIA LEAD PAINT ORDINANCE?

The Philadelphia Lead Paint Disclosure Law (Chapter 6-800) requires landlords to certify that a property is “lead free” or “lead safe” before the property is rented to prospective tenants.  According to the Ordinance which is enforced in Philadelphia Civil Court, a Certified Lead Inspector must inspect housing targeted under the ordinance.  A Certified Lead Inspector is a person who is certified by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to conduct lead inspections and risk assessments.  A property is only “lead safe” where the property is free of lead contaminated dust and other particles that create a threat of lead exposure.   The Ordinance treats any property that is built prior to March 1978 to presumptively have Lead-Based Paint.

The ordinance targets residential property built prior to 1978 that is being leased to tenants.  The Ordinance requires landlords to warn prospective tenants of the likelihood of lead-based paint in properties built before 1978.  In additional, the landlord is obligated to provide a lead hazard information pamphlet to individuals renting such properties.  In “Targeted Housing” situations (i.e., properties built before 1978 that are being rented to individuals with children age six or under), the landlord must provide tenant with a valid certification prepared by a certified lead inspector stating that the property is lead free or lead safe.  Therefore, there is an affirmative obligation on behalf of the landlord to remedy any possible lead issues where the property is being rented to tenants with children aged six or under.

WHAT IS TARGETED HOUSING?

The lead safe certification must state that the property is free of any deteriorated paint, and is in compliance with EPA regulations, including 40 C.F.R. Section 745.227.  In effect, any renter who is leasing property before 1978 must either acknowledge receipt of a disclosure form or lead safe certificate depending on whether they have children under age six.  Where a landlord fails to comply with Section 6-803 of the Philadelphia Lead Paint Ordinance, the Tenant may sue landlord for exemplary damages of up to $2,000.00, a complete abatement of rent paid while the property was not certified, and attorney’s fees.  Moreover, the Philadelphia courts will dismiss an eviction brought by a landlord who is non-compliant with the Philadelphia Lead Paint Ordinance.  Finally, a landlord cannot collect rent during any period of noncompliance with the Philadelphia Lead Paint Disclosure Law.

RECENT WINS: COPOULOS WINS LEAD CLAIM BROUGHT BY TENANT

Mark Copoulos is a Philadelphia eviction lawyer.  One the sorts of cases he handles on a regular basis is Philadelphia Anti Lead Ordinance claims. The Philadelphia Lead Paint and Disclosure Law is a basis of much litigation in Philadelphia Landlord Tenant Court. Many tenants who are being evicted raise Lead Ordinance claims against their landlords. While these claims are often not massive in terms of recovery, many tenants recover between $5,000-20,000 from landlords because they are a targeted group that never received a lead safe certification.

Civil defendant, D.D., came to Mark Copoulos with such a problem.  He had sued to evict his tenant.  The tenant retained an attorney who filed a counterclaim under the Philadelphia Lead Paint and Disclosure Law.  Citing to the Philadelphia Anti Lead Ordinance, the Tenant argued she was entitled to full repayment of rent over a three year period.  The tenant had a young son who had not tested positive for lead.  Nevertheless she argued that because she did not receive a certificate she was entitled to full compensation.

Copoulos and D.D. refused to settle the case.  The Tenant’s attorneys insisted on receiving a substantial sum and threatened it would be higher if the case was litigated.  Instead the matter was tried in court with great success.  The judge ultimately ruled that D.D. was permitted to evict the tenant.  The Honorable Court further held that no money was owed Tenant under the Philadelphia Lead Paint Ordinance.  While the court did not provide a specific reason for the ruling, Copoulos admitted evidence at trial showing the property was freshly painted when tenant moved-in.  Therefore, the likelihood of lead contamination or exposure was exceedingly low.

Copoulos helped D.D. schedule the eviction, and the sheriff will finalize the lockout next month.  If you have been sued by a tenant under the Philadelphia Anti Lead Disclosure law contact the Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos. We provide experienced and aggressive defense to individuals facing such claims.  Do not settle your case before exploring the possibility of litigating and winning an anti-lead claim.  For a free consultation contact Mark Copoulos at 267-535-9776.

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