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The New York City Council has passed a series of measures that toughen requirements for multifamily building owners to inspect their properties for lead-based paint and to complete any necessary abatements. Set to take effect between 2024 and 2025, these new requirements largely impact multifamily rental buildings constructed before 1960 and are aimed at protecting young children who live in these properties.

For many owners, this means more testing, additional maintenance costs, and new tenant turnover processes to avoid substantial fines.

The new laws make New York City’s lead paint standards the strictest in the nation and include complex requirements for compliance. Our in-house compliance experts have supported hundreds of New York City building owners and answered the most frequently asked questions about lead paint inspections, filing requirements, and avoiding fines.
 

A brief history of New York City’s lead paint inspection laws

The push to tighten lead paint regulations was accelerated by LeadFreeNYC, an initiative launched in 2019 by former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce childhood lead exposure. Since then, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has doubled its average annual issuance of lead-based paint violations.

At the core, New York City’s lead paint laws focus on tenant-occupied buildings completed before 1960, primarily apartments where children under age six reside, or routinely spend at least 10 hours per week:  
  • Local Law 1 – Property owners must provide annual notices to tenants about lead-based paint hazards and perform necessary repairs if lead paint is found. These notices and repair records must be maintained for at least 10 years.
     
  • Local Law 31 – Requires independent EPA-certified inspectors to conduct X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) tests in all tenant-occupied apartments within pre-1960 buildings. The law mandates these tests be completed by August 2025, or within one year of the move-in date of any child under age six, whichever is sooner.
     
  • Local Law 66 – Lowers the threshold that defines paint or similar surface coating as “lead-based” from 1.0 mg/cm2 to 0.5 mg/cm2.
These laws also apply to buildings finished as late as 1978 if the owner is aware that lead-based paint is present.
 

What are the new lead paint inspection requirements for multifamily buildings in NYC?

The new requirements, enforced by HPD, primarily affect rental buildings but can also extend to rental units and sublets in condominium and cooperative buildings:  
  • Local Law 111 – Expands Local Law 31’s XRF testing requirements to include common areas (i.e. hallways, an amenity space, residential lobby, etc.)
     
  • Local Law 122 – Requires owners to provide records of annual notices, investigations, and XRF testing to HPD within 45 days of lead-based paint hazard or turnover violations
     
  • Local Law 123 – Owners must address lead-based paint hazards within apartments upon turnover, or by a certain date if a child under the age of six resides there
     
  • Local Law 127 – Mandates that turnover violations – violations that occur when an apartment changes tenants – are a criterion for selecting buildings for audit. Data on blood lead levels in certain areas collected by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will also be used as applicable criteria 

"Peeling lead paint in a child’s home creates a well-known risk for their growth and development, and property owners in New York City are responsible for maintaining their buildings to eliminate lead paint exposure. The city has made great strides in reducing hazards posed by lead-based paint, and we need to make sure property owners continue to take responsibility to protect tenants."

Ashwin-Vasan-Commissioner-NYC-DOHMH-FirstService-Residential-New-York-06-19-2024— Dr. Ashwin Vasan, Commissioner | New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) 


What are the new deadlines for lead paint inspections?

  • June 2024 – HPD inspectors will begin conducting visual inspections of common areas for lead paint hazards during their regular visits (Local Law 111)
     
  • September 2024
    • Owners must provide annual notice and investigation records when lead-based paint hazard or turnover violations are issued (Local Law 122)
    • HPD will begin using turnover violations as a criterion for selecting buildings for audit. Number of violations and data on blood lead levels will also be considered (Local Law 127)
       
  • January 1, 2025 – If a child under age six lives in an applicable apartment as of this date, lead abatement or remediation in that apartment must be done by July 2027. After this date, new residents under age six trigger a three-year lead abatement/remediation deadline upon move-in (Local Law 123)
     
  • August 2025
    • XRF testing of all apartments must be completed (Local Law 31)
    • XRF testing of common areas must be completed (Local Law 111)
    • Owners must now also provide records of XRF testing to HPD within 45 days of lead-based paint hazard or turnover violations (Local Law 122)

What are the fines for failing a lead paint inspection, filing late, or failing to file?

In January 2024, HPD levied a $150,000 fine against a single building owner for violations across its portfolio. As new laws increase the cost of noncompliance, it’s important to be aware of how these violations fit into the landscape of existing penalties:
  • Failing a lead paint inspection – Violations involving deteriorated or peeling lead paint are considered a Class C violation under Local Laws 1 and 111
     
  • Failing to correct violations – May result in fines of up to $1,500 per violation under Local Law 123 and $250 per day that the violation is not corrected under Local Law 1
     
  • Late filing of annual notice and investigation records – May result in fines of $1,000 for each year that documentation was not submitted under Local Law 122
     
  • Failing to file annual notice and investigation records – May result in fines of $1,500 for each apartment where compliance can’t be verified under Local Law 31
     
  • Failing to maintain annual notice and investigation records – May result in fines between $1,000 and $5,000 per violation and can include a Class C violation under Local Law 31

"Enforcement is a pillar of our work to ensure families live in safe and healthy homes. We use violations, litigation, and swift emergency repairs to compel landlords to meet their moral and legal obligations."

Adolfo-Carrion-Jr-Commissioner-NYC-HPD-FirstService-Residential-New-York-06-20-2024— Adolfo Carrion Jr., Commissioner | HPD 

 


Lead abatements can unlock exemptions for NYC building owners

Owners of pre-1960 buildings are offered exemptions from annual notice distribution, inspections, turnover work, and new requirements by proving that their building is free of lead-based paint, or that their building has been made “lead safe.” There are two types of exemptions:
  • Lead Free exemptions are available to property owners who can show that their building is lead-free via their initial mandated XRF tests, or that they have since permanently eliminated the source of the lead through an EPA-certified abatement firm.
     
  • Lead Safe exemptions are granted when lead has been safely contained or encapsulated using approved methods such as repainting surfaces or covering the area with sheetrock. Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the contained or encapsulated surfaces are required to maintain this exemption status, along with risk assessments from an EPA-certified inspector every two years.
Exemptions already in place under the 1.0 mg/cm2 threshold remain in effect until the tenant vacates the apartment or if new violations occur.
 

How can your manager ensure compliance with lead paint inspection and abatement laws?

Navigating the web of local laws and regulations governing multifamily housing can be quite a challenge. Our dedicated Compliance Department uses InCheck by SiteCompli, a virtual platform that tracks the status of building inspections, permit expiry, violations, and complaints. This means our property managers have more time to focus on building operations, tenant requests, and big picture goals.
 
 
Here are a few ways we use InCheck in the buildings we manage:
  • Automatically track new laws, regulations, and deadlines
  • Gather building-specific compliance data to schedule inspections and repairs
  • Generate required logs for HPD, FDNY, and the DOB
  • Annual safety notice mailings to residents on behalf of ownership
  • Scheduling combined inspections to reduce inconvenience for residents
  • Keeping stakeholders informed with real-time updates tailored to their roles and responsibilities
This approach protects your building and frees our property managers to focus on enhancing your day-to-day operations.
 

Compliance questions? Contact a member of our team today.



 
Tuesday June 18, 2024