Commencing April 22, 2010, owners of cooperative, condominium and rental apartment buildings built before 1978 will be required to comply with new federal rules aimed at protecting against lead-based paint hazards associated with renovating, repair and painting activities.

In addition to providing occupants with a pamphlet entitled Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools before commencing work and having them sign a pre-renovation disclosure form indicating that they have received the pamphlet, property owners and contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in such buildings must be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. All work must be performed under the supervision of a certified renovator by employees who received on-the-job training from certified renovators. To become a certified renovator, a person must complete an eight-hour accredited training course.

The new rules apply to all work that disrupts more than six square feet of painted surface per room for interior activities or more than 20 square feet of painted surface for exterior activities or any work that involves window replacement or demolition of painted surface areas.

Detailed records of the renovation, repair and painting activities must be kept for at least three years in accordance with the provisions of the new rules.

Failure to comply with the new rules may be exceedingly costly. For each day that a violation continues, civil and criminal penalties of up to $32,500 may be assessed.

Thus, it is incumbent upon an owner of a pre-1978 residential building whose employees perform work subject to the new rules to become certified by the EPA and to have the building superintendent or another employee certified as a renovator in order to supervise the work. The owner must also be sure to comply with the record-keeping requirements of the new rules.

Additionally, an owner of a pre-1978 residential building should engage only contracting firms that are properly certified by the EPA to perform any such work and to make certain that the work is being performed in accordance with the new rules.

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