Get Certified or Get Out of Dodge: The EPA’s Lead Based Paint Renovation Guidelines
I’ll bet that got your attention. It probably should say “Get certified or get out of dodge or… use a contractor that is certified”. If you aren’t doing this, you’d better hope you don’t get caught. ” So what am I referring to?
The EPA’s Renovation Guidelines
Most seasoned real estate investors are well versed on these guidelines, but if you are new to this business you may not be aware of the rules you are required to follow. And where the EPA is concerned, ignorance doesn’t prevent you from getting those hefty fines they like to levy on folks rehabbing houses (or even doing smaller scale repairs or renovations).
Owners of companies that just have a few properties may think that they are exempt from these regulations or at the very least; they may feel some sort of “invisibility” just because they are small. But that just isn’t the case. Everyone is expected to comply with the rules and regulations that are in place.
The Rules of the Lead Based Paint Game
If you are repairing or renovating a pre-1978 structure, there are some things you have to do. For instance, if you have tenants in the property, you are required to provide those folks with a copy of EPA’s lead hazard information pamphlet “Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools”. You are also required to document that you have complied with this requirement.
There is a “pre-renovation disclosure form” that you can get from the EPA to use so that you start out on the right foot.
In 2010 the rules changed. Property owners that did these projects in rental homes built before 1978, were then required to be certified and to follow all of the lead safe work practices that are found in the EPA’s “Renovation, Repair and Remodeling Guidelines”. If you hire contractors it is your job to make sure they have the proper training and certification. Once again, “ignorance” won’t be allowed as an excuse. Take a few minutes before you hire any contractors to verify that they are certified. You can do this on the EPA website here or by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.
But I’m Only Doing a Small Project….
The short answer is “it doesn’t matter”. The rules must be followed when repairs or maintenance activities disturb more than 6 square feet of paint per room on the interior of a property, or more than 20 square feet of area on the exterior of the structure. 6 square feet is only an area 2’x3’ so even most small projects will fall within this scope.
To further clarify, renovation is defined as an activity that disturbs painted surfaces. This will include almost all remodeling, repairs and maintenance including window replacement. You can look online to see how some of the larger window companies have been made “examples of” by being hit with hefty fines by the EPA.
How Much Are the EPA Fines?
The fines can be up to $37,500, per incident, per day. So that’s a pretty strong motivation to comply.
What Exactly Should I Do About Lead Based Paint?
- Learn about the laws pertaining to lead paint.
- Take any needed training that is required if you will be doing the actual work. I think it’s a good idea even if you will be hiring contractors.
- Keep accurate records that show you follow lead safe work practices in your renovations and repairs.
- Pick up a copy of “EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right”.
- Become informed about how to use lead safe work practices in “EPA’s Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting.”
Has anyone had problems with the EPA’s Renovation Guidelines?
Photo: Michael Kötter
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Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.