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Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Lawyers

Mark D. Copoulos, Esquire has experience representing landlords in Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law (“PLDCL”) claims. Many of these claims are meritless and warrant an aggressive defense.

The Philadelphia Lead Paint Disclosure Law (Chapter 6-800) is a topic of intensive litigation in Philadelphia, PA.  Many unknowing landlords have been sued by tenants with children for not providing a lead safe certificate at inception of the tenancy.  While the process of certifying a property is lead safe is relatively affordable and easy, failure to certify a property is “lead safe” may result in litigation.

If you do not provide a Tenant a lead safe certificate, and the property at issue was built before 1978, you may be subject to a civil claim for any and all rents paid, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, costs for lead testing, and any physical injuries arising from lead contamination. While significant lead poisoning is rare and proving causation is exceptionally difficult, many unscrupulous lawyers will file a civil claim for violation of the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law to merely to recoup attorneys fees.  Such claims should be aggressively defended, since there is little merit to the underlying case.

Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Lawyers

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 tenants with young children.  Per city ordinance, a Certified Lead Inspector must inspect properties built before 1978 where children reside.  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 requires landlords to warn prospective tenants of the likelihood of lead-based paint in properties built before 1978.  In addition, 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.

Aggressively Defend a Lead Claim Brought by an Unscrupulous Tenant

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.

Complaint

A Philadelphia Lead Disclosure case begins with the Tenant serving a complaint on the landlord. In the complaint, the Tenant avers the that Landlord is in violation of Chapter 6-800 of the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law. The landlord is legally obligated to answer the complaint within twenty (20) days or a default judgment will be entered in Plaintiff’s favor.

Definition of "Tenant"

One defense to consider in answering a Philadelphia Lead Claim case is whether the Tenant is a tenant at filing of the complaint. If the Plaintiff has since moved from the property they may be barred from bringing the claim. See Houston v. Analaris Homes, No. 161101449

Arbitration

Most PLDCL Lead Claims begin with an arbitration hearing. At the hearing a panel of three lawyers hearing the case decide whether the Plaintiff is entitled to monetary damages. The panel must reach their decision by a preponderance of the evidence or “more likely than not.”

Appeal

If a landlord is unsatisfied with the result in arbitration, they have an automatic right to appeal the decision to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. If the case is appealed the judgment will be vacated and Defendant may engage in more intensive discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, depositions, requests for production of documents) before the next hearing before a Common Pleas judge.

Never Say Settle

Many PLDCL cases are litigated by personal injury lawyers working on a contingency fee. Most of the cases have little, if any, damages, and are inherently weak. Accordingly, it may make sense to take your case to trial. An appeal may be appropriate if the arbitration panel rules for the Plaintiff. The harder the Plaintiff’s lawyer works the less money he makes.

Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law Cases are Often Meritless and may be Won. Call Now for a Free Consultation.

Cases

Judgment for Landlord in Lead Case

Attorney Copoulos represented D.D. in a Landlord-Tenant case. The Landlord came to Mark Copoulos to defend a Philadelphia Lead Claim. Landlord (“A.M.”) rented to a tenant (“S.A.”) who defaulted on his payment obligations. Following her default she sued D.D. for violation of the Philadelphia Anti-Lead Ordinance.

The case proceeded to trial. At trial the judge ascertained that Defendant’s lead case was meritless. She suffered no damages, and did not raise the lead issue for three (3) years while residing in the property. Defendant presented photos showing the property was in a pristine condition at move-in. D.D. paid no monetary damages to Plaintiff.

Judgment for Defendant as Plaintiff in Lead Case

Attorney Copoulos represented a frustrated landlord in an eviction. Landlord filed the eviction pro se. Tenant retained an attorney who promptly sued the Landlord for violation of the PLDCL. At trial the judge awarded no monetary damages to the Tenant, and awarded possession of the property to landlord plus over $2,500.00 in back rent.

Please Note: Case results depend on a variety of factors.  Case results listed herein do not guarantee a similar result in your case.  For more information, speak with a Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant attorney.

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