EPA’s updated guidance highlights property management companies’ responsibilities under the Lead-Based Paint Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to withdraw two answers to frequently asked questions about the responsibilities of property management companies (PMCs) to comply with the agency’s Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP). EDF applauds the agency’s action, which is consistent with the intent of the rule. The agency’s Federal Register notice explaining the change also has important implications for improving compliance.

In comments submitted this week, EDF encouraged the EPA to further revise the guidance by replacing the withdrawn answers with the agency’s own detailed explanation to help PMCs – as well as residents, contractors, and landlords – better understand who is responsible for complying with the RRP rule.

The RRP is critical for protecting children from the hazards associated with renovation and other projects that can disturb the lead-based paint in their homes. As EPA’s analysis highlights, PMCs play an extremely important role in protecting children and families from lead poisoning.

The 50 largest PMCs control 3.4 million units. These management companies are actually contractors to landlords and property owners, often overseeing or hiring other contractors to conduct RRP-regulated renovations.

Under the RRP, contractors generally must be certified if the firm performs, offers to perform, or claims to perform RRP-regulated activities.

As the EPA explains, PMCs need to be certified if they:

  • Offer to perform RRP activities as part of its agreement – whether written or oral – with the property owner;
  • Solicit and evaluate contractor bids;
  • Apply for building or renovation permits;
  • Provide contractors access to the property;
  • Oversee contractor’s work on the property;
  • Inform tenants of renovation activity;
  • Verify completion of renovation activity;
  • Pay the contractor; or
  • Coordinate work schedules of various contractors.

When the EPA proceeds with its planned update to the guidance, EDF encourages the agency to:

  • Provide clear answers to PMCs about their duties under the RRP rule, by keeping the withdrawn questions, but providing new answers consistent with its explanation in its Federal Register notice;
  • Verify that major PMCs are in compliance with the RRP through its Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance; and
  • Provide guidance to realtors who handle similar tasks for sellers or buyers by adding a question regarding the role of realtors involved in selling or buying property covered by the RRP rule, as realtors may arrange for contractors, provide contractor’s access to the property, verify completion of work and handle payments to the contractor.
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