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Providence, R.I. Landlord Charged With Failing to Warn Tenants About Lead Paint
Release Date: 02/01/2006
U.S. EPA - New England Regional Office
For Release: February 1, 2006
Contact: David Deegan, 617-918-1017
(Boston) - EPA is seeking nearly $90,000 in penalties from two Providence, R.I.-based landlords for violations of federal lead paint disclosure laws. The violations potentially put families with young children at risk of exposure to lead hazards.
In the complaint, EPA's New England office alleges that Peter and Lillian Marinucci violated the federal Lead Disclosure Rule when they failed to disclose information about lead paint to tenants who rented the couple’s apartments between June 2003 and June 2005. EPA is seeking a penalty of $88,660 for the lead disclosure violations.
"Lead paint exposure is a serious public health concern for children in New England," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "Property owners and managers play a large part helping to prevent lead poisoning by following lead paint disclosure requirements and making sure families are aware of potential lead hazards in homes."
During the time period subject to EPA's action, the Marinucci's owned and rented 18 apartment buildings which contained 51 apartment units in Providence, R.I. All of the apartments were in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, where a disproportionate number of children suffer from lead poisoning. Between June 2003 and June 2005, more than 50 percent of the Marinucci's apartments were occupied by tenants with children.
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies; reading and learning disabilities; impaired hearing; reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.
EPA’s complaint states that the Marinucci's failed to: inform tenants of known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards; provide tenants with copies of records and reports regarding lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, and failed to provide tenants with EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlets, as required by federal lead-based paint disclosure laws.
Between 1997 and 2002, the R.I. Dept. of Health investigated reports of lead poisoned children on four occasions at two Providence properties owned by the Marinucci's: 345 Plainfield St. and 159 Lowell Ave. During these investigations, the state agency issued reports, notices and other records that the Marinucci's are required by law to disclose to tenants who rent apartments in these properties. Information collected by EPA suggests that the Marinucci's failed to disclose information about the lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in these properties to tenants.
One of the properties the Marinucci's rented to a family with a child under six years of age is listed on the state health agency's list of “Highest Risk Premises.” Properties on this list are considered unsafe for habitation by children under the age of six because multiple lead poisonings have occurred and the property has not been made lead safe as required. According to the R.I. Dept. of Health, the property at 345 Plainfield St. is on this list because the Marinucci's need to address lead-based paint hazards in the front common hall, in the soil and on the exterior of the property. The state list of Highest Risk Premises, Properties With Multiple Poisonings and a list of On-Going Violations can be found on the web at http://lead.health.ri.gov/.
R.I. lead laws require the state health agency to maintain these lists to alert the public about rental properties that pose a high risk for lead poisoning. EPA recommends that all renters, especially those with children and those who are planning to have children, review these lists before renting an apartment in Rhode Island.
This case is among dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken as part of a collaborative effort between federal, state and municipal agencies and grassroots organizations to make sure property owners, property managers and real estate agents are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. EPA has conducted hundreds of inspections in New England, and, in collaboration with its partners, has conducted numerous compliance assistance workshops.
Federal law requires that property owners, property managers and real estate agents leasing or selling housing built before 1978 provide the following information to tenants and buyers: an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet, called Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home; a lead warning statement; statements disclosing any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards; and copies of all available records or reports regarding lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards. This information must be provided to tenants and buyers before they enter into leases or purchase and sales agreements. Property owners, property managers and real estate agents equally share responsibility for providing lead disclosure information and must retain copies of records regarding lead disclosures for three years.
More EPA information on lead paint disclosure requirements and other issues regarding lead: https://www.epa.gov/ne/topics/pollutants/lead.html