Two Westbrook, Maine Companies Fined for Failing to Warn Tenants about Lead Paint
Companies will pay penalties and remove lead-based paint under settlement
BOSTON (Oct. 26, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reached a settlement with two Maine-based companies that violated federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements, potentially putting tenants at risk of exposure to lead-based paint.
Under the terms of the settlement, both companies collectively agreed to pay a penalty of $37,459, spend $57,700 to perform two lead-based paint abatement supplemental environmental projects, and come into compliance with the federal lead-based paint Disclosure Rule.
The two companies, 80 Brown Street, LLC and Sherwood Properties, LLC, own and lease, respectively, four apartments in a residential building located at 80 Brown Street in Westbrook, Maine.
In early 2020, EPA received a tip about a lead-based paint hazard at one of the four units at the location; shortly after, a two-year-old was tested and found to have an elevated blood lead level. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered abatement of the unit and relocation of the family. EPA learned that in 2017, representatives of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) inspected the four units in the 80 Brown Street building and determined that all four contained lead-based paint and that one of the units contained lead-based paint hazards that required abatement which was subsequently completed.
After investigating the matter in 2020, EPA learned that 80 Brown Street, LLC and Sherwood Properties, LLC leased the four apartments at 80 Brown Street without having disclosed to tenants the proper information about the presence of lead-based paint at the property. Two of the four units were leased to families with children.
"Every family deserves to live free of exposures to lead-based paint. It is the responsibility of landlords and property sellers to provide prospective tenants or homeowners with a notification about possible lead paint hazards in the property," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "EPA will always advocate for families, including people who are most vulnerable and over-burdened by environmental hazards. We especially appreciate the collaborative effort with state and local partners to gather information and evidence, and the steps taken to hold these companies accountable. Every family should be able to expect that their home is free from hazards and that a landlord will make them aware of potential hazards in their living situation. That failed to happen here."
The violations alleged against 80 Brown Street, LLC and Sherwood Properties, LLC include the landlords' failure to inform tenants of known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in their apartment building, failure to provide tenants with copies of records and reports regarding lead-based paint, failure to provide tenants with a statement within or attached to the lease contract that disclosed the presence of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, and failure to provide to tenants a list of records and reports pertaining to lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.
As part of the settlement, the companies have agreed to hire a licensed lead-abatement contractor to perform abatement at two residential properties near the 80 Brown Street property, as follows: encapsulate outdoor wood siding containing lead-based paint with vinyl siding at a four-unit property located in Westbrook, Maine and abate lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards on an outdoor wood fire escape at a two-unit property in Biddeford, Maine.
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause developmental impairment, reading and learning disabilities; impaired hearing; reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.
EPA Region 1 ultimately seeks compliance with federal lead-based paint regulations to prevent harmful exposures. Thus, prior to conducting compliance inspections, staff work with state and local public health agencies to provide outreach and compliance assistance information to raise awareness about lead-based paint hazards among painters and home renovation companies, property managers and landlords, as well as private homeowners.
EPA's Lead Disclosure Rule is designed to ensure that potential buyers and renters of housing built prior to 1978 receive certain information about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the residence prior to becoming obligated to buy or rent, and provides the opportunity for an independent lead inspection for buyers. Sellers, landlords, and agents are responsible for compliance.
More information: EPA requirements for lead paint disclosure for renters and purchasers: https://www.epa.gov/lead/real-estate-disclosures-about-potential-lead-hazards