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PR EPA IMPOSES FIRST CIVIL PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO DISCLOSE INFORMATION ON LEAD-BASED PAINT
Release Date: 07/29/98
FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 1998
EPA IMPOSES FIRST CIVIL PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO DISCLOSE INFORMATION ON LEAD-BASED PAINT
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed its first administrative civil penalties totaling $439,725 against the U.S. Navy in Kingsville, Texas, two landlords in Philadelphia, Pa., and a realty firm in Ponca City, Okla., for failing to disclose to their tenants information on lead-based paint. The disclosures are required by the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule, a public right-to-know initiative under the Residential Lead Based-Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. In all four cases, the properties contained lead-based paint and were occupied by families with young children.
EPA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued joint regulations, know as the “Disclosure Rule” which became effective Sept. 6, 1996. The rule requires realtors and landlords to provide purchasers and tenants with information regarding lead-based paint in homes built before 1978. Under the rule, sellers, landlords and agents must provide purchasers and tenants with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet. In addition, the rule allows purchasers a 10-day period to inspect housing units for the presence of lead-based paint and associated hazards, and requires that sales and leasing contracts include certain notification and acknowledgment language.
The complaints were brought against:
- •The U.S. Department of the Navy in a case involving 11 housing units at Kingsville Naval Air Station. The units were occupied by enlisted personnel and their families, which included young children under the age of six.
•Group One Realty in Ponca City, Okla., in a case involving a young child living in an house with lead-based paint.
•Risa and Philip Gerber, who leased an apartment with lead-based paint to a mother with a three-year old child, even after the city of Philadelphia declared the apartment unfit for human habitation.
•William E. Smith, a landlord, in a case involving a mother with two young children under six years old. Smith received a reduced penalty for complying with an order to remove the lead-based paint in the apartment.
Steven A. Herman, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance said, “EPA will continue to take action against violators of the Disclosure Rule, an important public right-to-know initiative. There is no more serious environmental problem in America’s older homes than lead-based paint. Our young children and pregnant women are the most at risk and must be protected from lead poisoning. EPA has made extensive efforts to educate the real estate community on the requirements of the disclosure rule, and we will take strong enforcement action against violators,” Herman said.
Lead poisoning is the number one environmental threat to American children. High levels of lead can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems, such as a reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems and behavioral difficulties. Young children, in particular, are most vulnerable because their nervous systems are still developing.
EPA has also issued 22 notices of non-compliance to sellers, brokers, realtors, agents and landlords for minor violations.
EPA and HUD have established a “Tips and Complaints” Hotline (1-800 424-LEAD) for the general public to report any alleged violation of the Disclosure Rule.
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