The Real Estate Board of New York to The City Council Committee on Health and the Committee on Housing and Buildings Regarding Lead Paint Legislation

Ryan Monell

Vice President of Government Affairs

April 24, 2023

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REBNY appreciates this opportunity to testify on several of the bills being heard today.

REBNY appreciates the critical importance of preventing children from being exposed to lead-based paint, which is a toxic substance that can have profound impacts on, among other things, a child’s mental development. Therefore, we support the City’s efforts to reduce the incidence of lead-based paint exposure and to enforce City laws that, among other things, require inspection and remediation with safe work practices in dwelling units where young children live or spend a significant amount of time.

In recent years, the City Council has adopted numerous additional local laws to strengthen the City’s rules and regulations concerning lead-based paint. While it is prudent to consider whether there are additional gaps in the City’s regulatory regime that need to be addressed, we encourage the Council and City agencies to focus on implementing and enforcing the laws, rules, and regulations that exist today.

BILL: Intro 0005-2022

SUBJECT: This bill would require that a building owner, upon receiving a violation, must supply the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with all records pertaining to lead paint investigations, remediation, tenant notification, and other information required to be kept by building owners from the previous 10 years. Those who could not supply all such records within 45 days would face a fine of up to $1,500.

SPONSORS: Council Members by Council Members Ayala, Louis, Hanif, Won, Joseph, Riley, Restler, Krishnan, Dinowitz, Cabán, Richardson Jordan, Avilés, Schulman, Velázquez, Gennaro, Marte, Rivera, De La Rosa, Farías, Brewer, Sanchez, Abreu, Brannan, Brooks-Powers, Bottcher, Nurse, Gutiérrez, Hudson, Narcisse, Williams, and Barron

Maintaining records of where lead paint may be present and where remediation or abatement has been performed is important, as it establishes a verifiable record for regulators to review to ensure compliance. Through Local Law 1 of 2004, building owners are already required to maintain 10 years of records regarding lead-based paint hazards. The City also currently has the authority to audit buildings and request all this information at any time. While it is possible that the intent of this legislation is to better inform the Health Department and HPD on where lead paint hazards exist, current local law sufficiently provides this ability if properly enforced. In lieu of creating additional requirements that do not enhance safety, REBNY encourages the Council to review existing law and strengthen existing enforcement where necessary.

BILL: Intro 0006-2022

SUBJECT: The proposed legislation would require the lead-based paint abatement activities currently required upon turnover, including the removal of lead-based paint on friction surfaces on doors and windows, to be completed in all applicable dwelling units where a child under the age of six resides, by July 1, 2023.

SPONSORS: Council Members Diana I. Ayala, Farah N. Louis, Shahana K. Hanif, Julie Won, Christopher Marte, Rita C. Joseph, Kevin C. Riley, Lincoln Restler, Shekar Krishnan, Eric Dinowitz, Tiffany Cabán, Kristin Richardson Jordan, Alexa Avilés, Amanda Farías, Marjorie Velázquez, Lynn C. Schulman, James F. Gennaro, Carlina Rivera, Carmen N. De La Rosa, Gale A. Brewer, Pierina Ana Sanchez, Shaun Abreu, Justin L. Brannan, Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Erik D. Bottcher, Sandy Nurse, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Crystal Hudson, Julie Menin, Keith Powers, Sandra Ung, Mercedes Narcisse, Nantasha M. Williams, Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Kamillah Hanks, Robert F. Holden, Francisco P. Moya, Linda Lee, Charles Barron, Chi A. Ossé, Althea V. Stevens, Oswald Feliz

Combined with adequate enforcement, requiring owners to inspect and take appropriate steps if the lead-based paint hazards are present at unit turnover is an appropriate mechanism to prevent exposure to lead-based paint. This is the case because work to remediate or abate lead-based paint can be completed more safely, in accordance with federal, state, and local standards, when a unit is vacant. For units that are not vacant, a remediation or abatement process could be very disruptive, time consuming, and costly, leading to unnecessary hardships for those tenants. In addition, the bill does not identify what shall occur if a tenant is required to vacate their apartment for the period of remediation, who will be responsible for identifying temporary lodging, and who will pay for the cost of the temporary relocation. For an owner, these proposals will undoubtedly create significant operational challenges and extraneous cost.

In addition, work to remediate or abate lead-based paint can vary depending on where lead-based paint is present, and by how much is present. Therefore, it is difficult to ensure that work is completed by a certain date as required by this bill. Instead, the Council should maintain the regime in which work is completed at turnover.

BILL: T2023-3347

SUBJECT: This bill would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to declare a lead hazard a public nuisance where the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issues a commissioner’s order to correct or remediate a condition related to lead hazards.

SPONSOR: Council Member Rivera

Eliminating lead-based paint hazards quickly and efficiently is critical, especially in cases where a child under the age of eighteen has elevated lead levels in their blood. For this reason, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene already can direct action to complete work that is not addressed by an owner.

The tools available to cure a public nuisance are not needed and would add protracted legal and other processes that could be problematic. As such, this bill does not meaningfully advance efforts to address lead-based paint hazards. In addition, the resources necessary for DOHMH to facilitate such a local law currently do not exist, and requiring the agency to facilitate the requirements as proposed could bring an unnecessary strain on agency resources with no additional benefit to public health.

We thank the Committees for holding this hearing and look forward to collaborating with you on these important matters.

Topics Covered

  • Housing
  • Safety