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Lead safe certification bill moving through Cleveland City Council

Posted June 24, 2019
12:12 pm

Written by Jay Miller in Crain's Cleveland Business on 06/24/2019

A Cleveland City Council committee has taken up legislation that would require Cleveland landlords to certify that all rental units built before 1978 have been certified as lead safe. That term means the most important lead hazards in a home have been contained, and the home or apartment has no peeling paint inside or out and no lead dust on surfaces or in soil surrounding the housing.

The goal of the legislation is to reduce the number of children exposed to the toxic metal. Lead poisoning can impair a child's neurological and mental development and can affect a child's kidneys and reproductive systems. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of paint containing lead but children can come in contact with it in older homes.

The committee met at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland on Friday, June 21, as a part of the Lead Safe Home Summit, a program sponsored by United Way of Greater Cleveland to hear from national and local experts about how lead safe housing can be achieved. There is no expectation that a home can be made lead free.

The city's director of building and housing, Ayonna Blue Donald, told the council committee that the city has 13,000 housing units that may be hazardous to children.

"Solving this problem does require all of us," Donald said, after describing a process that involved meetings held around the community with the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition, a community group that came up with 33 recommendations to tackle the problem. "This legislation is the next step after that, to make sure that we hold landlords accountable and to make sure we help those landlords get to where they need to be."

Rachel Scalish, counsel to city council, said the legislation would require all residential rental units in the city, constructed before Jan. 1, 1978, must provide to the building and housing department a lead clearance examination report or lead-risk assessment evidencing that no lead hazards were identified in the unit. That will require an inspection by a licensed inspector and, if necessary, remediation by a certified lead contractor. The program will begin March 1, 2021. All units must be certified by March 1, 2023.

The legislation also increases the registration fee paid by landlords from $35 to $70 per unit, capping the annual fee a single owner would pay at $30,000, if many units are owned.

The legislation will be heard by two more council committees over the summer. Because council meets only monthly over the summer, passage is not expected until August or September.

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