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EPA proposes $102,410 fine against Pepperell company for lead paint disclosure violations
Release Date: 06/17/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008
BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a $102,410 penalty against the Nissitissit Group Ltd, a Pepperell, MA property management company, for failing to notify numerous tenants in the Pepperell area about possible lead paint hazards in rental units, 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 and managers are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. The initiative has included more than 80 inspections around New England, as well as compliance assistance workshops.
"The lead paint disclosure law helps ensure that all prospective home owners and tenants are informed of the dangers of living in homes and apartments that may contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "This company's repeated violations are a major concern. Realtors and property managers such as the Nissitissit Group have an important role in preventing lead poisoning and need to follow all federal lead paint disclosure requirements."
Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 must: provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet, called "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home"; 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 prospective buyers or renters, prior to signing purchase and sale contracts and lease documents; 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, real estate agents and property managers all share responsibility for such compliance.
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth, hearing problems, and behavior and learning problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer from difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems, and muscle and joint pain.
In an administrative complaint filed last week, EPA alleges that the Nissitissit Group violated federal disclosure requirements in eight leases executed during 2000 and 2001 by failing to include required lead-paint related information in leases provided to tenants. The buildings were located in Pepperell, Townsend and Shirley, MA. The allegations stem from a citizen complaint, an inspection of the company by EPA's New England office last year, and information provided by Nissitissit Group.
Two of the eight non-compliant leases cited in the administrative complaint involved tenants with children less than six years of age. One of the eight non-compliant leases involved tenants with children between 6 and 18. If children are involved in a lease, the violations are considered more serious due to children's vulnerability to lead poisoning and its consequences.
Nissitissit Group manages about 98 commercial and residential units in the Pepperell area.
For more information on lead paint disclosure requirements and other issues regarding lead, visit EPA's web site at https://www.epa.gov/region1/topics/pollutants/lead.html
Copies of "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home," EPA Document Number EPA747-K-99-001" are available from several sources: download from agency web sites at http://www.epa.gov.ne/enforcement/leadpaint/index.html or http://www.epa.gov.lead ; or by calling the National Lead Information Center: (800) 424-5323.
Contact information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is as follows: (800) 532-9571.
MA Dept. of Public Health: http://www.mass.gov/dph/
MA DEP: http://www.mass.gov/dep/