There is a new Maryland law on the books that will affect all properties built prior to 1978. Landlords and property managers take note!
I am referring to the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, required for all rental properties built before 1950, and until now optional for only properties built between 1950 and 1978. However, effective January 1, 2015, it will be mandatory for all properties built prior to 1978.
That's a lot of properties! Property management companies will need to get started soon in order for all their properties built during this 1950-1977 range to be in compliance.
Under this law, landlords are required to (1) address all potential lead-based paint hazards in rental properties constructed prior to 1978, (2) register and annually renew registration of their properties with the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and (3) provide tenants with lead educational materials: All tenants must be provided with a Notice of Tenants' Rights that gives a detailed explanation of what property owners are required to do to comply with the law, how to inform the landlord that repairs need to be performed in the home, and steps one can take to enforce tenant legal rights if the landlord refuses to respond to a request.
In order to be fully compliant with the law, a landlord is required to
1) Give every tenant three items the Notice of Tenants' Rights, the EPA brochure 'Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home', and a copy of the lead inspection certificate for the unit on or before the day the tenant moves in. Every landlord and property manager should keep on file a signed statement from the tenant acknowledging receiving these items.
2) Ensure that the property is currently registered with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and to pay a $30 per property/unit registration fee.
3) Obtain a passing 'Full Risk Reduction Certificate' prior to a tenant's moving into the property. This certificate can be issued by only a select number of inspectors, licensed for this type of inspection. The cost for this service can range from $200 to $500 depending on the property and inspector chosen for the work.
I recently spoke with a landlord with a two-bedroom, pre-1978 built home. This home had been fully updated with new bathrooms, new kitchen, new windows and new flooring. Even so, it failed inspection because it was determined that all wood trim on the outside of the house needed to be repainted and a concrete basement floor needed to be resurfaced with another layer of concrete to cover cracks. The cost of the inspection, including taking lab samples, came to $270. After painting and concrete work is completed, the owner will have to call the inspector back and pay another $150 for a visual inspection to confirm all was done as prescribed.More information can be obtained from the Maryland Department of the Environment by visiting their website at http://www.mde.state.md.us/lead or by contacting them directly at 410-537-4199.