Grant funds available to help landlords repair rental properties

Lead Safe County provides grants to landlords to help create lead-safe housing for Chautauqua’s kids. Landlords whose tenants include families with young children can receive grant funding to replace old windows and doors and stabilize other painted surfaces that present a lead hazard. CHRIC is the sub-recipient of funding awarded to the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.

Childhood lead poisoning is a major environmental health problem. The primary source of lead poisoning is paint hazards. Lead-based paint was available for homes through 1978. Over 43,000 homes and apartments in Chautauqua County were built before 1978 and are likely to contain lead paint. That’s 81 percent of our homes. While peeling paint and paint chips are fairly obvious hazards, lead dust is created every time windows and doors are opened or people walk across painted floors and stairs. The dust settles on toys, floors and windowsills and can be swallowed by young children. In young children, exposure to lead can cause learning disabilities, brain and nervous system damage, and other irreversible physical effects.

If a child is diagnosed with an elevated lead level and lives in a rental property, the landlord is required by law to have the lead hazards removed or leave the apartment vacant. Even if a child is not poisoned, all landlords are required by law to disclose possible lead-based paint hazards to tenants in pre-1978 properties.

This includes giving renters an EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards, disclosing any known information concerning lead-based paint, and including a Lead Warning Statement in the lease and a statement confirming that they have complied with these notification requirements. Although many landlords are unaware of this law, they can be charged in criminal court or sued in civil court for failing to comply.

Lead Safe County can help landlords make their properties lead-safe before there is a problem. By replacing old windows and doors that have failing lead-based paint on them, enclosing painted floors and stairs under vinyl or carpet, and stabilizing other painted surfaces, the likelihood of a lead hazard is greatly reduced. Weather efficiency is also improved, lowering the tenant’s utility bills. Landlords pay $50 per window, $50 per interior door and $150 per exterior door plus a percentage of the cost of any other work needed to make the property lead-safe. Grant funds usually cover approximately 80-85 percent of the total cost of the work, up to a maximum of $20,000. Since the funds are provided on a per unit basis, the program is especially appropriate for two and three unit buildings where the grant dollars available for the property can be doubled or tripled. There must be a child under age 6 who lives in the property or who spends a significant amount of time there (such as day care, babysitting, or visitation to a non-custodial parent) and each eligible apartment must have at least one bedroom. Landlords must have property insurance, all taxes must be current, and they must intend to own the property for three years after the work is completed.

For more information about the Lead Safe County program, please visit www.chric.org/rehab or contact CHRIC at 753-4650.

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