Opening a dialogue with a goal of helping to end the lead paint threat in New Jersey homes, the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee discussed legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jamel Holley, Benjie Wimberly, Dan Benson and Raj Mukherji that would require lead paint inspections prior to home purchases and tenant turnover on Monday.
The bill (A-1877) also requires the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in consultation with the state Department of Health, to establish a statewide, ongoing educational program designed to meet the needs of tenants, property owners, realtors and real estate agents, insurers and insurance agents and local building officials about the nature of lead hazards as well as the importance of lead hazard control and mitigation. The DCA would also establish guidelines and a trainer’s manual for a lead hazard seminar for rental property owners.
“This is one of the most crucial steps we can take to decisively put an end to the pervasive threat of lead in our home environments,” said Holley (D-Union). “By mandating inspections on all home sales or rental turnovers, we can systematically remove this threat once and for all.”
This measure requires every contract of sale for real property to include a provision, as a condition of the sale, requiring a certified lead evaluation contractor to inspect any dwelling located on the property for lead-based paint hazards.
The lead evaluation contractor must be certified to provide lead paint inspection services by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). If the contractor finds that no lead hazards exist in dwellings located on the property, then they would certify the property as lead-safe on a form prescribed by the DCA.
“While lead contamination in water is undoubtedly a concern, the persistent presence of lead paint in homes, particularly in poorer, urban areas is a far greater threat to our children,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic), Chairman of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “It’s time for New Jersey to start mandating inspections to put an end to this threat.”
Additionally, the bill would require municipalities to inspect every single-family, two-family, and multiple rental dwelling located within the municipality for lead-based paint hazards at tenant turnover.
Municipalities would charge a fee for the inspection at a rate proportional to the current “Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law” fee schedule. Moreover, the bill requires municipalities to impose an additional fee of $20 per unit inspected by a certified lead evaluation contractor or permanent local agency for deposit into the “Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund.”
“Lead-based paint was banned in New Jersey 40 years ago and remains a present and significant health hazard in far too many homes,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill will create both a healthier and safer environment for our state’s families.”
“Lead exposure can have devastating and irreversible consequences,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “New Jersey residents must be protected, especially in their own homes. By creating strict guidelines for proper lead inspections as well as raising awareness of this issue, we can save lives.”
If a municipality maintains a permanent local agency for the purpose of conducting inspections and enforcing laws, ordinances, and regulations concerning buildings and structures, that agency would inspect single-family, two-family, and multiple rental dwellings for lead-based paint hazards. If the municipality does not maintain such an agency, then the municipality would hire a lead evaluation contractor, certified to provide lead paint inspection services by the DCA.
Dwelling units that pass visual tests for intact paint frequently contain invisible lead dust hazards detectable through dust wipe sampling. In municipalities that have a higher concentration of children with elevated blood lead levels, the bill requires a lead evaluation contractor or permanent local agency to inspect for lead-based paint hazards through dust wipe sampling. In municipalities with a lower concentration of children with elevated blood lead levels, the bill allows a lead evaluation contractor or permanent local agency to inspect for lead-based paint hazards through visual assessment.
Rental properties that have been certified to be free of lead-based paint or lead-safe, properties that were constructed during or after 1978, and seasonal rental units would be exempt from the inspection and registration requirements. However, the bill eliminates the exemption for seasonal rentals from the cyclical inspections required under the “Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Act.”
The discussion of this bill follows a hearing held by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee to discuss mold, lead, and environmental concerns in New Jersey.