Renovating pre-1978 Housing? Beware the Lead-Based Paint Rule

By August 4, 2011 Blog, Real Estate Law

On July 15, 2011, minor amendments to the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (“RRP”) rule became final, making this a good time to revisit that rule, which became effective last year.  Published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), the RRP rule establishes training, certification, and work practice standards for persons performing renovations that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities.

The RRP rule is certainly far-reaching and important for almost anyone in the construction industry.  Requirements covered by the rule include:

  • •    pamphlet distribution (provide owners and occupants with Renovate Right before work commences);
    •    individual training (completion of 8-hour course given by accredited trainer);
    •    firm certification (application to EPA, with $300 fee for standard certification);
    •    job-site training (for non-certified workers);
    •    paint-testing or assumption that paint is lead-contaminated (in California, only State Certified Lead Inspector/Risk Assessors permitted to test for lead-contamination – thus, contamination must be assumed absent a certified inspector’s finding to the contrary); and
    •    lead-safe work practices.

The rule’s requirements are complex, and applicability may be sometimes hard to determine.  A useful rule of thumb, however, is found in the EPA’s (Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right), which states:  “In general, anyone who is paid to perform work that disturbs paint in housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 (is subject to the RRP rule).”

Contractors are obviously the group most affected by the RRR rule, but it doesn’t end there. For example, an individual who does handyman work on covered property is subject to the both the firm certification and individual training requirements.

The possible penalties for failing to follow the RRP rule?  According to the Small Entity Compliance Guide (p. 15), the EPA “may file an enforcement action against violators seeking penalties of up to $37,500 per violation, per day. The proposed penalty in a given case will depend on many factors, including the number, length, and severity of the violations, the economic benefit obtained by the violator, and its ability to pay.”

Whether you consider it an overly-intrusive regulation or a welcome public health measure, the RRP rule is something that anyone who is compensated in connection with work on housing and child-occupied property built before 1978 should be familiar with.

Scott M. Toussaint, Real Estate Group

Thoits Law

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Mae Parker says:

    Lead is an important issue, so tight legislation is equally important. Short-cuts are common in the industry. Those short-cuts can result in
    personal injury, as you know. Still, I hope it is not so complicated that it makes the construction industry either unable to comply or dodge compliance.