Earlier this summer, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) found itself marred in controversy when federal prosecutors filed a complaint claiming the agency woefully failed to comply with several crucial lead-paint regulations.

While this lead-paint debacle surprised many, it also served as a wake-up call for many New York residents — particularly those with children. Given that dust from lead paint is the most common cause of lead poisoning among children, New York parents need to familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations that govern lead paint here in New York.

Lead paint: a landlord’s responsibility

In order to prevent childhood lead poisoning, Local Law 1 was created in New York City in 2004. This particular law applies to your apartment if three factors exist:

  1. Your building has three or more units;
  2. A child under the age of six lives in your apartment; and
  3. Your building was constructed before 1960, or between 1960 and 1978 if the building owner knows lead paint is present.

If your building is covered by Local Law 1, your landlord has several responsibilities, including:

  • Landlords must find out if any children under the of six live in the building and must inspect those apartments for lead paint hazards EVERY YEAR.
  • Landlords must hire properly trained workers when fixing lead paint hazards.
  • Landlords must repair lead paint hazards before new tenants move it.

What should tenants do?

If you believe your apartment may contain hazardous lead paint, you should call your landlord right away, especially if the paint is peeling. If your landlord does not fix the peeling paint (or if you think the repair work is not being done safely), call 311.

In addition, it is crucial to tell your landlord if you have a child under the age of six living with you — meaning you must fill out and return the Annual Notice you receive from your landlord each year. Also, wash everything often, including floors, window sills, toys, hands and pacifiers.

Even if you follow the rules, however, there is no guarantee that your landlord will do so as well. When landlords fail to properly fix lead-paint hazards, they are not only violating the law, but they are also putting you and your family at risk. Fortunately, there may be legal options available.