How Philadelphia Lead-Based Paint Laws Will Change in the Future

Lead Based Paint

The federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978. According to the 2015 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, 69 percent of Pennsylvania homes were built before 1978. So, roughly 86 percent of the homes in the City of Philadelphia were constructed before the mandated change.

While the state of Pennsylvania does not require lead-based paint testing for home sales or rental properties, the city of Philadelphia does have lead-based paint testing for a specific demographic. However, both state and city governments require a lead-based paint disclosure to be signed for any home sale or new tenant entering a rental property if the property was built prior to 1978. The federal government requires a disclosure that must be signed to anyone purchasing or renting a property built before 1978 as well as the protect your family from lead in the home. The city of Philadelphia requires an additional disclosure that must be delivered to tenants which explains the law regarding lead based paint.

What is a Lead-Based Paint Inspection?

A lead paint inspection must be performed by a certified inspector. The inspector will thoroughly investigate multiple surfaces of the property to determine whether lead-based paint is present and where it is located. Under the Philadelphia Lead Paint Disclosure and Certification Law, if a building was built before 1978 and will be occupied by a child six years or younger, property owners must provide tenants with certification that it is lead-free or lead safe. The tenant must sign the certification. If the Department of Public Health discovers a hazard, the landlord is required to hire an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified firm to fix it. The danger must be corrected in 30 days, or the property owner must appear in court.

It’s important to note that a lead paint inspection differs from a lead paint risk assessment. According to the EPA, a risk assessment is performed by certified risk assessors who perform an “on-site investigation to determine the presence, type, severity, and location of lead-based paint hazards (including lead hazards in paint, dust, and soil). They will then suggest ways to control them.” The risk assessment helps a property owner locate the source of exposure and build a possible solution.

Current Philadelphia Lead Paint Laws

Current regulations in Philadelphia require a landlord to have a lead paint inspection completed if the following three conditions are present:

  • The property was built prior to 1978 (original foundation/structure)
  • The property is in the city of Philadelphia
  • The tenants moving in have a child under seven years old

For landlords wanting to avoid having multiple tests performed with each new tenant, they can go through the process of having the property certified as lead-free. To obtain the certification, you must have a lead-free (different from lead-safe) inspection completed, identify the areas where lead paint is present, and complete the abatement process to rid the home of all lead paint. The city of Philadelphia has specific requirements for how lead-based paint can be labeled, removed, and disposed of during the process.

Future of Philadelphia Lead Paint Laws

The city of Philadelphia is in the process of making homes safer for residents. Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, says it’s nearly impossible for city leaders to know if a child under the age of seven is living in a home with lead-based paint. Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown then introduced legislation that would remove the age restriction on Philadelphia lead paint laws. While the bill will likely not take effect until 2020, it’s designed to protect more families against lead paint poisoning and place more ownership on landlords in Philadelphia. Once legislation passes, the new Philadelphia lead paint law will require a lead paint inspection if:

  • The property was built prior to 1978 (original foundation/structure) AND
  • The property is in the city of Philadelphia

The new law will be implemented over the course of five years, starting in the highest affected areas.

Councilwoman Reynolds Brown also introduced legislation to amend Chapter 9-3900 regarding “Property Licenses and Owner Accountability.” The amendment would call for all Philadelphia landlords who operate under an LLC to disclose the names of specific individuals with an equity interest in the corporation. The bill also requires all LLCs to identify an individual who can receive orders, notices, and summonses.

In 2016, nearly 2,700 children tested in Philadelphia had harmful levels of lead in their blood. The future changes for Philadelphia lead paint laws will work toward providing healthier homes for families and toward keeping children safe.

Bay Property Management Group Philadelphia is devoted to helping property owners understand the lead paint laws with our resources center. We can answer any questions you may have about your Philly rental property. To learn more about how we build a valued partnership with all of our property owners, contact Bay Management Group today.


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