SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced settlements with two landlords for failing to warn their tenants that their homes may contain potentially dangerous lead paint. The San Antonio property owners have agreed to make 15 properties containing 33 total units lead safe. In addition to performing $84,000 in lead paint hazard remediation work, the landlords have agreed to pay $6,000 in civil penalties and $20,000 in Child Health Improvement Projects (CHIPs).
According to HUD, UC Rental Management, its president, Gary Carrera, and Paul Carter, violated the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act and the Lead Disclosure Rule, by failing to inform tenants that their pre-1978 homes may contain potentially dangerous levels of lead.
“We don’t like seeing violations like this, almost 14 years after the Lead Disclosure Rule was put into place; children should be protected from lead’s destructive and permanent effects,” said Jon L. Gant, Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. “HUD is absolutely committed to enforcing the Lead Disclosure Rule. We hope this settlement serves as a reminder to landlords and property management companies to do the right thing – follow the Rule and protect our children.”
UC Rental, Inc. owns and manages 14 properties containing 19 housing units in San Antonio (see attached list). Under the settlement, UC Rental will have lead-based paint inspections performed at the properties and will conduct lead-based paint hazard control work, including window replacement, abatement of all friction and impact surfaces that contain lead paint, stabilization of all other non-friction and non-impact surfaces that contain lead paint, and additional interim control work in all the units within a period of three years. In addition to the lead hazard reduction work, which is expected to cost about $68,000, UC Rental has paid a $5,000 civil penalty.
Under his settlement, Mr. Carter agreed to have a lead-based paint risk assessment performed at Toltec Apartments, a 14-unit complex constructed in 1913. Mr. Carter will abate the lead-based paint hazards identified in the units, common areas, and exterior within one year and cover bare soil with an appropriate covering within three months. In addition to the hazard abatement work, estimated at $16,000, Mr. Carter will pay a $1,000 civil penalty and implement two CHIPs intended to reduce childhood lead poisoning in the San Antonio area. The CHIPs will consist of: (1) a $15,000 project with the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas / AVANCE Clinic to purchase and deploy an on-site blood lead analyzer and test kits; and (2) a $5,000 project with LeadSafe San Antonio to conduct a workshop for landlords to learn lead requirements when renting and renovating pre-1978 residential housing.
The settlements announced today represent HUD’s first Lead Disclosure Rule enforcement actions in San Antonio, and were the result of intensive coordination among local health officials and federal investigators. HUD is continuing similar enforcement efforts around the nation, and so far has taken enforcement actions in which landlords have agreed to conduct lead-based paint hazard reduction in almost 186,000 apartments and to pay almost $1.3 million in civil penalties. In addition, a total of $723,750 has been paid directly to community-based projects to reduce lead poisoning, and landlords have committed to expend more than $30 million to address lead-based paint hazards in the affected units.
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 is one of the primary federal enforcement tools to prevent lead poisoning in young children. The Lead Disclosure Rule, authorized by the Act, requires home sellers and landlords of housing built before 1978 to disclose to purchasers and tenants knowledge of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards using a disclosure form, signed by both parties, attached to the sales contract or lease containing the required lead warning statement, provide any available records or reports, and provide an EPA-approved “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home” pamphlet. Sellers must also provide purchasers with an opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection and/or risk assessment at the purchaser’s expense. Acceptable lead disclosure forms can be found atwww.hud.gov/offices/lead/enforcement/disclosure.cfm andwww.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadbase.htm.
Health Effects of Lead-Based Paint
Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, poorer hearing, and a host of other health problems in young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that even at low levels, lead exposure in children can significantly impact IQ and even delay puberty in young girls.
At higher levels lead can irreversibly damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 310,000 of the nation’s 20 million children under the age of six have blood lead levels high enough to impair their ability to think, concentrate and learn.
Eliminating lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 housing is essential if childhood lead poisoning is to be eradicated. According to CDC estimates, the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels has been cut in half since the early 1990’s, although the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in low-income, older housing remains high. HUD estimates that the number of houses with lead paint has declined from 64 million in 1990 to 38 million in 2000. About 24 million homes contain significant lead-based paint hazards with the potential to poison young children.