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Lead-Based Paint Inspections in Rental Dwellings

Lead is a naturally occurring element that is widely used in many products including gasoline, cosmetics, and paint. Lead-based paint is usually not hazardous if it is in good condition. However, paint that is peeling, chipped, cracked, or in some way damaged or lead dust, that forms when lead paint is scraped, sanded or heated, are hazards that need immediate attention. Lead exposure in children can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys, as well as learning disabilities and decreased intelligence. As a result, various legislation aims to identify and address these concerns.

N.J.A.C. 5:28A was recently adopted in May 2023. The law imposes an obligation on municipalities to inspect certain single-family, two-family, and multi rental dwellings for lead-based paint. These inspections can be performed by either the municipality or the property owner can hire a certified lead evaluation contractor.  The inspections will take place when there is a tenant turnover where there is no valid lead-safe certification or every three years, whichever is earlier. Of note, there are several dwellings that are exempt from these inspections. These include dwellings constructed during or after 1978, seasonal dwellings rented out for less than 6 months each year, and those dwellings which have recently been lead-safe certified. This certification is valid for two years from the date of issuance.

For those not exempt, the periodic inspection depends on how the children in that area have tested for lead in their blood. This will determine if the inspection will be done visually or through dust wipe sampling. Visual sampling involves a visual inspection looking for paint chips or dust. A dust wipe sampling involves collecting samples from the floors, windowsills, etc.

If lead-based paint hazards are identified, the owner of the dwelling has to remediate through either abatement or hazard control mechanisms. Abatement involves a set of measures designed to permanently eliminate the hazard. Interim controls are designed to temporarily reduce exposure to the hazards until abatement can be achieved.

Dwelling owners are required to comply with the above requirements. If they have failed to do so, and have not cured their violations within 30 days, the owner shall be subject to a penalty of up to $1,000 per week until the inspection or remediation efforts have been initiated. Owners are also required to report all tenant turnover activity to the municipality and provide a copy of their lead-safe certifications.

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