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Lead Inspector's Notebook Local Law 122 Local Law 123 New York City Local Law 31

New York City’s Local Law 31 & Lead Testing Laws: A Simplified Guide for Property Owners

Local Law 31: What You Need To Knowlocal law 31

Lead paint poses significant health risks, especially to young children. Recognizing this, New York City has enacted stringent laws, complete with hefty fines for non-compliance. For owners of multifamily properties, it’s crucial to prioritize lead testing and remediation, especially in light of recent regulatory updates. To help you navigate these complex requirements, we have prepared a concise guide which outlines complex legislation into key actions and critical deadlines. This guide is tailored to ensure you remain compliant and safeguard the health of your tenants.

NYC lead lawImmediate Actions for Testing with Children Involved

Children Under the Age of Six: Dwellings with children under six must be inspected within one year of their residency under Local Law 31. Additionally, units in buildings constructed before 1960 that host children for over 10 hours weekly require testing, regardless of residency status.

Local law 122Deadlines to Note

Local Law 31 and Local Law 122 – Lead Testing Requirements

  • By August 2025, all pre-1960 buildings must undergo comprehensive X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) testing for lead paint in dwelling units and common areas by an EPA-certified lead inspector.
  • Annual Reporting: Beginning August 2025, you’ll need to provide records of any lead hazard violations and investigations to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) upon request. The threshold for defining lead-based paint has also been lowered to 0.5 mg/cm², from the previous 1.0 mg/cm², as of December 1, 2021.
  • Exemption: HPD encourages owners to apply for an exemption for spaces that test negative or have had lead-based paint surfaces abated.

NYC lead lawFuture Responsibilities

Local Law 123 – Lead Paint Abatement

For units suspected of containing lead paint and housing a child under six:

  • By July 2027, door and window friction surfaces must be abated. Lead paint hazards must be remediated, including making all floors smooth and cleanable.
  • Post-January 1, 2025: Units that are newly occupied by children under six after this date must meet the above mentioned abatement and remediation requirements within three years of move-in.

Tenant Communication

  • Annual Notices: Each year, between January 1 and 16, tenants must be provided with annual notifications in both English and Spanish regarding lead paint hazards. Failure to receive a response from tenants by February 15, necessitates a follow-up investigation by owner between February 16 and March 1 to confirm the required information.
  • Leasing Requirements: Inquire about the presence of children under six during the time of leasing or renewal; certify the completion of required lead-related work; and provide the appropriate occupancy notice regarding lead-based paint hazards.

Compliance and Penalties

Non-compliance with these regulations can result in significant penalties. Be sure to keep thorough records of all compliance activities. Resources are available to assist you, including sample forms for annual notice delivery, investigation compliance, and more.

Navigating New York City’s lead laws is vital for property owners, not just for legal compliance, but for the health and safety of tenants. By adhering to these guidelines, conducting necessary testing and remediation, and communicating effectively with tenants, property owners can create safer living environments and avoid potential penalties. Stay informed and proactive to protect your investment.

If you need lead testing contact RTK Environmental at 800.392.6468.

For your convenience, here are links to key documents:

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Environment Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Inspector's Notebook Mold Mold Testing

Don’t Let Spring Allergies Fool You: Is Your Basement Hiding a Mold Problem?

Don’t Let Spring Allergies Fool You: Is Your Basement Hiding a Mold Problem?

With spring finally here, many of us are sniffling and sneezing, blaming it on seasonal allergies. But what if the culprit is lurking right beneath your feet, in your finished basement? According to the National Association of Home Builders, over 60% of basements in the Northeast are finished living spaces. Unfortunately, mold grows very easily in basements, which can cause allergy-like symptoms and pose serious health risks.

Mold thrives in damp environments, and basements are notorious for being cool and humid. Spring’s melted snow and increased rainfall can further exacerbate moisture issues, creating a breeding ground for mold spores. These spores can easily become airborne, causing respiratory problems, skin irritation, and even fatigue in healthy individuals. Mold can be very dangerous for people with asthma or allergies and can trigger severe reactions including breathing difficulties, skin rashes, headaches, cough, and wheezing.

The Covert Threats Luring in Your Basement Oasis

Oftentimes, mold growth is stealthy, particularly with certain basement flooring choices:

  • Raised Wood Floors and Carpets: Installing raised wood floor, carpets or padding over concrete traps moisture underneath, creating an ideal environment for mold to grow because the flooring has no way to dry out. In fact, even just covering the concrete with carpet and padding creates a haven for mold to grow because concrete holds moisture and doesn’t have any way to breathe.
  • Wood Framing and Drywall: Covering concrete walls with drywall and wood framing can lead to mold growth under these concealed, moist conditions, especially if the installation lacks proper ventilation. Mold grows from condensation and thrives in dark spaces.   Plus, recent heavy rainfalls can lead to water intrusions, where the bottom of the concrete wall where it meets the floor (path of least resistance!) can make the bottom of the drywall and the wood framing damp in seconds, leading mold to grow in as little as 24-48 hours.
  • Water Intrusions: Relying solely on a sump pump or French drain can be risky. Without regular inspections and maintenance, these systems can fail, leading to moisture accumulation and, consequently, mold growth.
  • Basement Mechanics: Your basement will always be your basement. Toilet overflow, pipe break, refrigerator ice maker leak on the floors above the basement? Water always seeks the lowest point- your basement. Make sure you have water sensors on the floor in several areas so you know the first sign of water in your basement and can get it cleaned up asap.
  • Materials Matter: Choosing Mold-Resistant Options: Be certain to hire a builder who’s a pro at building in a basement. It’s crucial to opt for non-cellulose materials and proper ventilation in basement constructions to prevent mold. Ensuring that humidity levels are maintained at or below 50-60% year-round can significantly reduce mold risk.

Hidden Dangers in Your Basement Paradise

Many popular basement flooring choices can harbor mold growth without you even realizing it:

Carpeting: Carpeting traps moisture and dust, creating a perfect environment for mold growth. Spills and leaks can go unnoticed beneath the surface, allowing mold to colonize undetected. Imagine your child playing on a mold-infested carpet – the spores easily become airborne and can be inhaled, leading to respiratory problems.

Gym Mats: Those sweaty workouts can create a lot of moisture in the air. If not properly ventilated, this moisture can get trapped under gym mats, creating a prime spot for mold to grow. Inhaling mold spores while exercising can worsen respiratory issues like asthma.

Floating Wood Floors: While aesthetically pleasing, these floors can be susceptible to water damage, especially around the edges. Mold can grow unseen beneath the planks, posing a health risk. Even small leaks under the flooring can create a hidden mold problem.

Basement Laundry Areas: Heat and humidity build up in laundry areas making them mold hotspots. Your washing machine may also be a health hazard if not properly cleaned, as mold tends to grow inside of front loaders.

Don’t Gamble with Your Health:  Hire an Environmental Professional for Peace of Mind

While some allergy symptoms may seem mild, it’s important to identify the true cause.  Ignoring potential mold growth in your basement can have serious consequences for your health and the structural integrity of your home. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a professional, independent mold testing company to assess your basement for hidden dangers.

A professional can not only identify mold growth but also determine the source of the problem and recommend solutions to prevent future recurrence. They have the expertise to identify mold and provide a blueprint for remediation to help get you on your way to a healthy environment for your family. Also, be sure to hire a mold inspector that does not conduct remediation so there is no conflict of interest.

Don’t let your finished basement become a breeding ground for mold. Take action now and breathe easy this spring! Click here to book a test.

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Inspector's Notebook Lead Mold

Are you familiar with the current HPD laws and regulations?

Are you familiar with the current HPD laws and regulations?

 

new york city mold violation

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) works to maintain the safety and health of residents by establishing standards for the physical condition of buildings. They do this by developing regulations that property owners must follow.

When a building fails to meet these standards, HPD may issue a violation, which can result in fines and other penalties. In recent years, HPD has updated its policies and regulations to protect tenants from hazards like lead and mold.

Whether you’re a property owner or a tenant, understanding HPD regulations is essential for maintaining safe and healthy living conditions in New York City. It can be tough to keep track of, so we’ve compiled all the latest information here so you can stay up to date.

LEAD

nyc lead violationLead is a serious concern for tenants, particularly young children, who can suffer from cognitive and developmental problems from exposure. HPD Lead Regulations are important measures to protect the well-being of tenants. Here are some of the key provisions of New York City’s lead laws:

  1. Landlords must conduct lead-based paint inspections for all apartments in buildings constructed before 1960. For buildings constructed between 1960 and 1978, landlords must conduct inspections if a child under the age of six lives in the apartment.
  2. If lead-based paint is found in an apartment, landlords must take steps to address the hazard. This can include removing the paint or covering it with an encapsulating coating.
  3. Landlords must provide tenants with notice about the presence of lead-based paint in the apartment, as well as information about the health risks associated with lead poisoning.
  4. Lead-safe work practices: If a landlord needs to do work that may disturb lead-based paint, they must follow lead-safe work practices to prevent the spread of lead dust.
  5. Landlords who fail to comply with the lead laws can be fined and may face legal action.

There are a few recent updates to these HPD lead laws which are designed to further protect residents from lead hazards and ensure that building owners take appropriate steps to address lead in their properties.

These updates include:

  • As of February 2021, Local Law 1 of 2004, which previously applied to only residential buildings with three or more units, now includes tenant-occupied one and two-unit buildings. This means that in a building older than 1960, the property owner must either maintain records of lead testing or presume that there is lead-based paint and follow the requirements.
  • Under Local Law 66 of 2019, certain standards for lead were lowered.
  • Lead-Based Paint is now defined as paint with a lead content of 0.5 mg/cm².
  • When testing for lead-based paint, an XRF instrument with an approved Performance Characteristic Sheet must be used. The instrument is used to measure the amount of lead present on a surface, and the testing must be done when the level of lead on the surface reaches 0.5 mg/cm² or higher
  • Lead dust standards for floors, windowsills, and window wells were lowered to 5, 40, and 100 mcg/ft² respectively
  • By August 2025, Local Law 31 requires lead-based paint testing to be conducted in all residential units and documented by property owners.
  • The penalties for non-compliance will increase from $500 per day to $2,000 per violation per day.
  • The new laws will also establish a Lead Task Force, which will be responsible for developing recommended practices to address lead hazards in NYC.

WHY TEST FOR LEAD NOW?

As 2025 gets closer, it will become harder and more expensive to find a certified lead inspector with the approved equipment. Building owners and managers who want to avoid high fees and long wait times should consider hiring a certified lead inspector as soon as possible. Here at RTK, we offer comprehensive lead testing services that comply with the HPD laws.

MOLD

new york mold violationThe latest mold violation updates were issued in 2021. Mold violations are a serious matter as exposure to mold can lead to respiratory problems, allergies, eye, nose and throat irritation, fatigue, and neurological issues. Here are some of the main provisions of HPD’s mold laws:

  1. Landlords must inspect their buildings for mold at least once every five years.
  2. If mold is found, landlords must remediate the mold within 30 days of receiving a violation.
  3. Landlords must ensure that their buildings are free from conditions that promote mold growth, such as excess moisture or leaks.
  4. Landlords must provide tenants with a notice explaining their rights and responsibilities regarding mold.
  5. Landlords must post information about mold in common areas of the building.
  6. Landlords must hire a licensed mold assessor to conduct a visual inspection and air sampling if mold is identified or suspected in a building.
  7. The mold assessor must be licensed by the New York State Department of Labor and must follow industry standards for mold assessment and remediation.
  8. It is illegal to hire the same company to do testing and remediation on the same job in New York, as it is a clear conflict of interest.

BOOK AN INSPECTION WITH RTK

RTK NYCHow do you ensure that your property is following these HPD guidelines? Make sure to book a licensed inspector to assess your premises to guarantee that appropriate mold and lead precautions are being taken for your property.

RTK is very experienced in helping building owners and landlords resolve HPD violations. With fast scheduling, comprehensive reports, licensed and highly-trained inspectors, and expedited laboratory results – we can turn a problem into a problem solved. Contact RTK at 800.392.6468.

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Inspector's Notebook

Vehicle Tracking: How We Keep Our Employees Safe & Our Appointments on Time

Vehicle Tracking: How We Keep Our Employees Safe & Our Appointments on Time

vehicle trackingSince 1995, RTK Environmental Group has provided environmental testing services to more than 40,000 customers on the East Coast. Whether we’re testing for mold, asbestos or lead, or judging the overall quality of your air, our certified experts are on hand to make sure that you are safe in your home or workplace.

We use state-of-the-art technology and we adhere to the latest standards when our inspectors examine your property, so it seems natural that we also keep up to date when it comes to our company vehicles.

To that end, RTK Environmental has employed tracking in our vehicles to better serve our communities. We can see our technicians’ daily routes and we know how long they were at a job.  This gives us the ability to ensure that our operations are running as efficiently as possible.

You can be confident with RTK—confident that our assessments are accurate, confident that our technicians can be trusted, and confident that our company is working hard to ensure that your property is a safe place to live and work.

RTK Environmental has partnered with Quartix Vehicle Tracking to ensure the highest level of safety for our employees and service for our customers. Live well!

 

 

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Inspector's Notebook Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Weitz Advice

3 Things Architects Need to Know About Environmental Testing

3 Things Architects Need to Know About Environmental Testing

When you start a new project, there are a lot of people relying on you to ensure everything goes smoothly. Whether you are working for a customer directly or a builder, they are going to count on you to ensure the quality and safety of the job, and to ensure that all environmental testing required by law is complete. We’ve compiled a list of the top things’ architects should know about environmental testing.

To help avoid liability issues, test for asbestos.

asbestos testingMany architects leave required pre-project asbestos testing up to the builder, which can be a mistake. Builders sometimes forgo asbestos testing to save time and money. But accidentally contaminating a building because walls, tiles, ceilings or other suspect material containing asbestos were ripped out without proper precautions being taken can contaminate a much larger area. Aside from that, testing for asbestos is a good idea in general to protect the health of workers on the job and avoid issues with OSHA. It can also shield you from further liability.

Test for lead paint prior to starting work.

lead paint hazardsLead paint is another potential problem for architects. Be sure to test for lead paint before you start a renovation project. Home lead test kits are not enough, as they only test for lead on the surface. Be sure to hire an independent professional to conduct XRF lead paint testing, which will tell you if the underlayers of paint contain dangerous lead.

Working with a qualified, unbiased testing company which does not do remediation can save you money.

independent environmental testingNot every environmental testing company is the same. There are those that do both testing and remediation, which is a clear conflict of interest. The more issues they say they find, the more they stand to make in the remediation or abatement to follow.

RTK Environmental only does testing and never remediation, so you can rest assured our results are unbiased and accurate. Additionally, RTK provides you with a plan for remediation, so you don’t waste money on areas that don’t need to be remediated. And with our fast turnaround times, you can move your project forward faster.

Contact RTK to schedule an inspection for your project today. Click here or call 800.392.6468.

 

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Healthy Home Inspector's Notebook

Smart Home Inspectors Recommend Environmental Inspections – Here’s Why

Smart Home Inspectors Recommend Environmental Inspections – Here’s Why

mold home inspectionWith the spring market here, the home inspection business is getting busy, as home inspectors are an important part of the home buying process. But what happens if you find suspect environmental toxins? Savvy inspectors call RTK for a follow-up environmental inspection. It shields them from liability and protects the health of the potential buyers.

home inspection finds moldWhen you find mold, asbestos, lead, or other suspect materials during a home inspection and you are not licensed to conduct the proper testing, your clients may ask for a recommendation for further testing. RTK has been a trusted resource for environmental home inspectors for nearly 30 years.

We regularly work with home inspectors to conduct environmental inspections. RTK uses precise equipment and the latest technology. Clients receive a detailed report that is clearly written and easy to understand in as little as 24 hours. Additionally:

  • We understand that our role is to support and protect you, not to take over the relationship with your client
  • We can efficiently perform multiple types of testing simultaneously, including lead, mold and asbestos
  • We respond quickly and are priced fairly and accurate
  • RTK is licensed to meet the New York State Department of Labor mold law criteria

And, with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, a 5-star rating on Google, and the Angi Super Service Award in our corner, you can feel good about referring RTK. Contact us at 800.392.6468 or click here to schedule an appointment. Problem solved!

asbestos home inspection

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Lead Inspector's Notebook

New York City’s New Lead Laws: What Building Owners and Managers Need to Do Now

New York City’s New Lead Laws: What Building Owners and Managers Need to Do Now

 

New York City announced in 2019 that the lead laws were going to change significantly to better protect tenants from lead poisoning. While many of these rules don’t go into effect right away, the time is now to start preparing so that you will be compliant. Here are the most time-sensitive new requirements.

XRF Inspections to be Required for All Units

XRF lead paint testing

Effective August 9, 2021, Local Law 31 of 2020, states that owners must have XRF lead inspections of all surfaces in every unit conducted by a third-party EPA-certified inspector or risk assessor to determine whether lead paint is present in the dwelling. These inspections must be completed within five years of the effective date of the law, which is August 9, 2025, OR within one year of a child under 6 first residing in that unit, whichever is sooner. Residing in a unit is defined as spending 10 or more hours per week there. In such cases, an XRF test must be completed for that unit quickly.

“This is going to be critical to do sooner rather than later, because the new lead law redefined multiple dwellings to include one- and two-family house rentals, with the exception being units occupied by the owner’s family,” notes Robert Weitz, Principal of RTK Environmental. “That means a lot more buildings are going to require lead testing.”

Certification of Compliance with Local Law 1 in HPD’s Annual Property Registration

As of May of 2020, New York City’s annual property registrations include five questions. The property owner or manager must certify that it has complied with Local Law 1, or there are steep penalties that can cost you up to $10,000.

Owners or property managers must certify that they:

  • have provided tenants annual lead paint notices
  • have taken appropriate action to obtain responses from the occupants
  • are conducting annual inspections and providing the results to tenants
  • are correcting any lead hazards by using certified contractors and RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) lead-safe work practices
  • abating lead paint between the times tenants occupy a unit and when it is vacant
  • maintaining documentation for 10 years.

Why test for lead now?

NYC local law 1August 2025 will be here before you know it. The closer you get to the date on which everyone must be compliant, the more challenging it will be to find a lead inspector with the proper XRF equipment, as they will be in high demand. This will likely lead to heftier fees for lead inspections as well. Smart owners and managers will hire a certified, independent lead assessor now to avoid surge pricing and the possibility of having to wait weeks or even months – for an inspector to be available.

If you need more incentive, as of 2020, contractors applying for Home Improvement License must certify that they are EPA certified in RRP. If they are not certified in RRP, they are prohibited from lead abatement and doing work that could potentially disturb lead paint. This means if a lead hazard is found, you may have to wait for a contractor to be available as well, which means you’ll be racking up those daily $2,000 fines.

What are lead-based paint hazards?

lead paint windowsillsA speck of lead dust the size of a grain of sand is enough to poison a child. That’s why it’s important to understand where lead lurks. Lead-based paint hazards include:

  • Dust from peeling paint, window sills, or doors
  • Damaged or peeling lead paint
  • Lead paint on:
    • Crumbling plaster or rotted wood
    • Window sills and any other surfaces that have been chewed on by children
    • Doors and windows that stick or rub together

Lead Poisoning Symptoms and Effects

With the new law, the blood lead level indicating that a child has been lead poisoned has been lowered from 10 to 5 ug/dl (retroactive to June 1, 2012), which is now consistent with the CDC guidelines. Even if a person appears to be healthy, they may have elevated blood lead levels, which can lead to complex health problems.

Lead poisoning can cause serious, irreversible damage including: brain damage, ADD and ADHD, aggressive behavior and tendencies for violence, damage to the nervous system, impaired growth, reproductive issues, lower IQ, and in extreme cases, coma or even death.

Be Smart!

Take the first steps to becoming compliant with New York City’s new lead laws. Contact RTK Environmental at 800.392.6468 or click here to schedule online. Our inspectors are EPA licensed and certified. And since we only do testing and never remediation, your results will be unbiased. Contact us today!

 

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Inspector's Notebook Weitz Advice

Environmental Hazards on the Job: Are You Protected?

Environmental Hazards on the Job: Are You Protected?

Every day, workers in many industries, especially construction, remediation, abatement, and restoration, are potentially exposed to environmental hazards while on the job. At the very least, those workers are entitled to a safe work site, which is why they are protected by the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA rulesThe issue remains, however, whether those standards are adhered to. And that burden, generally, has fallen on the employer. However, if a worker is exposed and a lawsuit is filed, not only can the employer be liable, but many others could be held responsible as well, including the owner of the property. Always ask your contractor for an insurance certificate to be safe. Any way you look at it, there’s a simple solution to avoid the penalties, potential lawsuits, and harm to workers: test for environmental hazards first.

Worker’s Rights

osha asbestos ruleOSHA standards are rules that describe the methods that employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. According to OSHA, when workers are on a job site, they have the right to be protected from environmental toxins. Although there is no specific law in New York State or Connecticut requiring lead and asbestos testing prior to remediation or renovation work, insurance and remediation companies aren’t taking any chances; they are opting for pre-job environmental testing.

Workers also have the right to get copies of test results that find and measure hazards, and can file an anonymous complaint asking OSHA to inspect a workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA’s rules.

So, what are the OSHA’s rules?

Lead

osha lead rulesOSHA states that it is the duty of the employer to ensure that no employee is exposed to lead at concentrations greater than fifty micrograms per cubic meter of air (50 ug/m3) averaged over an 8-hour period. That said, no amount of exposure to lead is safe. Lead poisoning causes irreparable neurological damage, autism-like symptoms, reproductive issues, violent behavior, and more.

Lead exposure can occur through demolition, flame-torch cutting, welding, use of heat guns, sanders, scrapers, or grinders to remove lead paint, and abrasive blasting of steel structures. In construction, lead is also frequently contained in roofing materials, cornices, tank linings, and electrical conduits. In plumbing, soft solder, used chiefly for soldering tinplate and copper pipe joints, is an alloy of lead and tin. Soft solder has been banned for many uses in the United States, as has lead paint, but many older homes and buildings still contain these materials.

SOLUTION: Don’t wait for a problem to occur – test for lead before you begin a project. If lead is found, employees should be provided with protective clothing and, where necessary, with respiratory protection.

Asbestos

osha asbestos lawOSHA has regulations to protect workers from the hazards of asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is frequently found in private and commercial homes and properties, as well as many building materials. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, it can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma.

OSHA standards cover work in the general industry such as exposure during maintenance or plumbing work. Standards for the construction industry include construction, alteration, repair, maintenance, or renovation and demolition of structures containing asbestos.

OSHA also states that testing of workplaces covered by the standards must be completed to determine if asbestos is present and if the work will generate airborne fibers by a specific method under each standard. In that case, asbestos monitoring and personal protective equipment may be necessary.

SOLUTION: Your best course of action is to test for asbestos to know if workers will be disturbing the toxic material before a project begins. This way, employers can take necessary steps to protect their workers from any asbestos hazards.

Personal Protective Equipment

OSHA PPE ruleAccording to OSHA, personal protective equipment, or PPE, is designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, and other workplace hazards. Besides face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, and safety shoes, protective equipment includes a variety of devices and garments such as goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, and respirators. OSHA says that an employer is required to provide PPE, including respirators, when hazards are present. Employers are required to assess their workplace to determine if hazards are present that require the use of personal protective equipment.

Penalties & Fines

OSHA finesIf you are cited for an OSHA violation, the fines are steep; they start at $13,653 for a one-time violation, $13,653 per day following a failure to abate, and $136,532 for willful or repeated violations.

Advice for Homeowners

The simplest way to avoid lawsuits, penalties, and irreparable harm to workers is to test for hazardous materials prior to starting a job. Be sure to ask the company you hire about lead and asbestos testing, especially if it was built before 1980, as older homes tend to harbor these toxins. If lead or asbestos is present, make sure they are following the EPA regulations for working with these materials.

To schedule an inspection, call RTK at 800.392.6468 or click here. To contact OSHA, visit www.osha.gov, or call 1-800-321-OSHA.

 

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Inspector's Notebook Health Weitz Advice

Rental Properties Often Harbor Environmental Hazards: Here’s What Tenants Should Know

Rental Properties Often Harbor Environmental Hazards: Here’s What Tenants Should Know

Most buildings, whether residential or commercial, may contain one or more environmental or health hazards, often hidden from view. Hazards such as mold, asbestos, lead, radon, and even pests can pose serious risks to tenants who occupy these spaces. To protect your health and property, it’s smart to familiarize yourself with the legal responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Although landlords are responsible for a majority of environmental issues in rentals, tenants have responsibilities, too.

Tenant Responsibilities 

Tenants also play a role in preventing mold and indoor allergens, and can be held responsible for environmental hazards caused by their negligence. Tenants should heed the following advice:

Mold

  • tenant moldTell the landlord about any mold or unusual odors you’ve observed in the unit before you move in, and ask the landlord to fix the problem prior to your moving in. If you are already occupying the space, you should promptly tell your landlord about any mold that you find or conditions that are likely to cause mold.
  • Keep homes clean and dry.
  • Report any plumbing issues or leaks immediately, as mold can begin to grow within 24 – 48 hours.

Indoor Air Quality, VOCs & Radon

  • tenant indoor air qualityAvoid using pesticides and chemicals with strong odors because they contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which cause poor indoor air quality and health issues.
  • Do not manufacture, store, dispose of, transport, or use hazardous substances on the premises.
  • Have radon and carbon monoxide detectors (landlord responsibility) installed in your home to catch any potential issues early.
  • You can hire a professional, like RTK, to test for radon and determine whether it makes your home unhealthy.

Asbestos

  • asbestos tenant responsibilityYou can usually see suspect asbestos. Pipe insulation, 9×9 tiles, and popcorn ceilings are common areas that you may find asbestos. If asbestos has been damaged and become airborne, the only way to know is to have an air test. If the result is positive, you may have the right to withhold rent or move out before the lease ends without paying future rent if the landlord does not remedy the problem.
  • Sometimes tenants need to move out temporarily if they cannot adequately protect themselves from asbestos during renovations or repairs. The landlord should cover the costs of your temporary housing if you move out.

Lead

  • lead paint tenant responsibilityUnless you test for lead, you can’t be absolutely sure whether your rental home contains lead paint or lead dust unless it is tested. You should ask the landlord if the paint has ever been tested for lead. If it has, ask to see the results.
  • If you have a child under the age of 6, you must notify your landlord, as different rules apply.
  • In New York City, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) inspections are now required for all surfaces in every rental unit for “multiple dwelling” buildings built prior to 1960, as well as for buildings built between 1960 and 1978 with known lead-based paint.
  • XRF lead inspections must take place within 5 years of the effective date of the law (by August 9, 2025) or within one year if a child under the age of 6 resides in or moves into the unit.
  • Before hiring a home improvement contractor, they must show evidence that they are EPA-certified and follow lead-based safety standards.
  • Inspections must be conducted by an EPA-certified lead inspector or risk assessor not associated with the owner or any firm hired to perform lead-based paint remediation.

Pests

  • tenant responsibilities pestsPlace food in sealed containers, keep counters and sinks clean, and get rid of clutter such as newspapers and paper bags to prevent pests.
  • Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids to prevent pests from taking up residence.
  • Take garbage and recycling out every day, and tie up garbage bags before removing them from your apartment.

Be aware that the tenant is liable if an environmental hazard violation is caused by their own willful act, assistance or negligence, or that of any member of their family, household, or a guest.

In the end, the goal of both tenants and landlords is the same – to keep everyone healthy. The best way to prevent future issues and potential contamination is to have the property tested for environmental toxins. This way, there is a clear path to what needs to be done to ensure everyone’s safety. And be sure to test after the remediation or abatement is complete to ensure the work was properly completed. Call RTK at 800.392.6468 to schedule an environmental inspection today or click here.

To learn more about landlord responsibilities, click here.

Categories
Inspector's Notebook Asbestos Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold

Landlord Responsibilities for Environmental Hazards in Rental Units

Rental Properties Often Harbor Environmental Hazards: Here’s What Landlords Should Know

Most buildings, whether residential or commercial, may contain one or more environmental or health hazards, often hidden from view. Hazards such as mold, asbestos, lead, radon, and even pests can pose serious risks to tenants who occupy these spaces. To protect your tenants and properties, it’s smart to familiarize yourself with the local laws, rules or ordinances to which you are subject. The laws governing landlord and tenant obligations vary from state to state, locality to locality. The following, found in Local Law 55-2018 in New York City, will give you a good idea about what you need to do to avoid issues stemming from environmental hazards and pests.

Landlord Responsibilities (NYC)

mold apartment landlordMold

  • Every year, landlords should inspect units for indoor allergen hazards such as mold, and respond to any complaints received directly from tenants.
  • Make sure vacant apartments are thoroughly cleaned and free of mold and pests before a new tenant moves in.
  • Provide the What Tenants and Landlords Should Know About Indoor Allergens and Local Law 55 fact sheet and a Notice with each tenant’s lease that clearly states the property owner’s responsibilities to keep the building free of indoor allergens.
  • A landlord has a responsibility to remediate mold in a tenant’s unit, just as they would with any other hazard. If the mold arises because of the tenant’s actions, however, the landlord may not be obligated to address it, and it may become the tenant’s responsibility. This would include things like accidentally overflowing bathtubs or trying to do plumbing work yourself.
  • Owners of residential properties with 3 or more units are required to hire a New York State Department of Labor-licensed mold assessor, like RTK Environmental, to assess conditions whenever there are more than 10 square feet of mold. After the assessment, landlords are responsible for hiring a separate remediation contractor. These two contractors must be completely independent of each other, as doing both the testing and remediation on the same job is a violation of the 2016 New York State mold law and would be a clear conflict of interest. A licensed mold contractor must also comply with New York City Administrative Code section 24-154 and New York State Labor Law Article 32. There may be penalties to a property owner for failure to comply with New York City requirements.
  • Safe work practices are required for mold removal, whether you hire a contractor or you do the work yourself or with your own staff. These practices include:
    • Hire a NYS certified microbial investigator, like RTK, to test for mold before and after remediation to identify the problem and ensure it was properly remediated.
    • Removing any standing water, and fix leaks or moisture conditions.
    • Isolating the work area with plastic sheeting and covering egress pathways.
    • Limiting the spread of dust. Use methods such as sealing off openings (e.g. doorways, ventilation ducts, etc.) and gently misting the molding area with soap and water before cleaning.
    • Cleaning mold with soap or detergent and water. Dry the cleaned area completely. If these areas are not dried completely, mold will likely return.
    • Removing and discarding materials that cannot be cleaned properly.
    • Throwing away all cleaning-related waste in heavy-duty plastic bags.
    • Cleaning any visible dust from the work area with wet mops or HEPA vacuums.
    • Leaving the work area dry and visibly free from mold, dust, and debris. 

Asbestos

popcorn ceiling landlordThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires owners of buildings constructed before 1981 to place warning labels, train staff, and notify employees or outside contractors who are working in areas that might contain asbestos.

  • To establish that there is no asbestos on your property, you must have a licensed inspector, like RTK, test for it. You have a duty to take reasonable precautions to protect tenants from asbestos as this material has been linked to an elevated risk of lung cancer and other health issues.
  • If the landlord is planning a renovation or repair in a pre-1981 building that will disturb suspect asbestos containing material, they need to test for asbestos and remove it prior to any work being performed.

Lead

lead paint landlordA federal regulation now requires landlords of “target housing” (most housing built before 1978) to disclose any known lead paint hazards to prospective tenants. New York City landlords and residents also must follow Local Law 31 to avoid costly fines and penalties. Here’s the breakdown of Local Law 31:

  • X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) inspections are now required for all surfaces in every rental unit for “multiple dwelling” buildings built prior to 1960 (as well as for buildings built between 1960 and 1978 with known lead-based paint).
  • XRF lead inspections must take place within 5 years of the effective date of the law (by August 9, 2025) or within one year if a child under the age of 6 resides in or moves into the unit.
  • Inspections must be conducted by a third-party, EPA-certified lead inspector or risk assessor, independent of the owner or any firm hired to perform lead-based paint remediation.
  • Home improvement contractors must show evidence that they are EPA-certified and follow RRP lead-based safety standards.
  • On December 1, 2021, the definition of lead-based paint changed from paint that has a lead content measured at 1.0 mg/cm2 or greater as determined by laboratory analysis or by an instrument called an X-ray florescence analyzer (XRF) to be defined as paint that has a lead content measured at 0.5 mg/cm2 or greater as determined by laboratory analysis or an XRF instrument with an approved PCS and programmed at a testing action level of 0.5 mg/cm2.
  • Federal regulations also require that prospective tenants be given a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, about residential lead poisoning hazards.

The older the housing, the more likely it is that it contains lead paint, that can cause lead poisoning, especially when the paint is disturbed.

  • Lead poisoning can occur from lead dust the size of a grain of sand (dust from lead paint can be released when a painted surface is disturbed). Lead poisoning can lead to serious, irreversible brain damage, neurological reproductive and behavioral issues, autism-like symptoms, and more.
  • Test for lead to be sure you are protected.

Radon

radon landlordNo laws actually require landlords to identify radon or remove it from their property, despite radon’s association with lung cancer. Radon has been detected everywhere in the United States, so it is a hazard that should be on a landlord’s radar for testing.

  • When radon is trapped in homes that have poor or inadequate insulation or ventilation, it can become a severe health hazard.
  • In areas where there is rocky terrain, like the Northeast, there are substantial amounts of radon, caused by the high concentrations of uranium in the soil and rock.

In the end, the goal of both tenants and landlords is the same – to keep everyone healthy and protected. The best way to prevent further issues and potential contamination is to have the property tested for environmental toxins. This way, there is a clear path to what needs to be done to ensure everyone’s safety. And be sure to test after the remediation or abatement is complete to ensure the work was properly completed. Call RTK at 800.392.6468 to schedule an environmental inspection today.

To learn more about tenant responsibilities, click here.