Legal Updates

What is the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law

Mark Copoulos is a civil defense trial lawyer in Philadelphia, PA.  One the sorts of cases he handles on a regular basis is Philadelphia Anti Lead Ordinance claims. The Philadelphia Lead Paint and Disclosure Law requires landlords to lead inspect properties built before 1978, where the property is being rented to an individual with children under six (6) years old.  If the landlord does not inspect the property, he may be responsible for returning all rent, paying attorneys fees, damages arising from lead poisoning and other costs if sued. Many tenants who are being evicted raise Lead Paint 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.

The Lead Paint Disclosure Disclosure and Certification Law was enacted by Philadelphia City Council in 2013.  Under the ordinance the landlord must provide tenants with children aged six or under a certification the property is “lead free” or “lead safe.”  The lead certifications may be obtained by a certified lead inspector.  Many offer such tests at reasonable prices.  Per the ordinance, the lead test must have occurred within twenty-four months of commencement of the lease term.  However, if a property is deemed “lead free” there is no termination date for the certificate.  According to the ordinance the lead free Certificate must be recorded with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Landlords have problems where they fail to provide the lead safe certificate to tenants with children ages six or under.  These cases arise where Landlord has rented “Targeted Housing” but is not compliant with the law.  In such cases, the Tenant may sue the Landlord for all back rent paid over the lease term.  The Tenant may also sue for exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and any injuries arising from lead contamination.  In my Philadelphia Lead Paint Law cases, there are no actual damages.  The Tenant sues the Landlord because he was not provided a Lead Safe Certificate.  However, often times there is no lead in the property or injury to children.

For these specific reasons, there may be a strong defense to the Lead Paint Law case filed against you.  For example, if you have been sued for thousands of dollars but Tenant has no actual injuries the court may hesitate to award monetary damages.  Additionally, you may have other defenses such as lack of notice and/or that the individual living at the property has nullified the leasehold because of their own breaches of the lease.  Our firm has successfully defended a variety of Law Paint Lawsuits, and can assist you in resolving a case filed against you in either Philadelphia Municipal Court or the Court of Common Pleas.  Often times Lead Paint Law cases are filed in the small claims court because the filing attorneys do not want to invest significant resources in the case.  Under such circumstances it is important to be aggressive and zealously defend the case.  In Lead Paint Law cases filed in Philadelphia Municipal Court either party has an automatic right to appeal.  Pursuant to local rules the appeal vacates any judgment entered in the lower court.  Therefore, there may be nothing to lose in trying the case.

Case Results: Copoulos Wins Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law Claim:

Civil defendant, D.D., came to Mark Copoulos with a problem Tenant.  Owner 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. D.D. was infuriated by the absurdity of this claim and hired Copoulos to prepare his defense.

Copoulos and D.D. refused to settle the case for any amount.  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.