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Manchester, NH Realtor Pays $9,000 Penalty For Lead Paint Disclosure Violations
Release Date: 05/01/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that Lacerte Realty of Manchester, NH, has agreed to pay a $9,240 penalty for failing to notify three home buyers in southern New Hampshire of risks from exposure to lead paint, as required by federal law.
The case is among a half-dozen lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken since launching an initiative to make sure landlords and property owners are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. The initiative has included more than 80 inspections around New England, as well as compliance assistance workshops.
"Childhood lead poisoning is a major problem in New Hampshire, but one that's preventable if homeowners are informed of the risks," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "Realtors have an important role in preventing this problem and need to follow all federal lead paint disclosure requirements."
Low-level lead poisoning is widespread among American children, affecting as many as three million children under the age of six, with lead paint the primary cause. Elevated lead levels can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing and even brain damage. In Manchester, NH alone, 128 of 1970 children who were screened in 2002 – 6.5 percent – had elevated blood lead levels, according to the NH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 must: provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet; include lead notification language in sales and rental forms; disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to buyers or renters; allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years. Sellers, lessors, and real estate agents all share responsibility for such compliance.
EPA's complaint alleged that on at least three occasions, buyers of homes handled by Lacerte were not properly informed of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards before committing to purchasing the properties. The three residential properties were located in Milford, Allentown and Manchester. None of the required steps under the federal Lead Disclosure Rule were taken to notify buyers before a purchase agreement was signed.
Manchester has been a particular focus since the death of a two-year-old child in the city from lead poisoning in 2000. As a result of that incident, a Manchester, NH property manager and his company were fined $40,000 and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in 2002 for failing to notify tenants in Manchester of lead dangers and obstructing EPA's investigation into the case. Earlier this year, a second Manchester, NH realty company, Senecal Properties, was fined $2,500 for failing to follow lead disclosure laws.
The inspections leading to the Lacerte complaint were conducted as part of a joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Justice in New Hampshire.
For more information on lead paint disclosure requirements and other issues regarding lead, visit https://www.epa.gov/region1/topics/pollutants/lead.html or call the New Hampshire Lead Poisoning Prevention hotline number at 1-800-877-LEAD.