The city has enacted stricter regulations on detecting lead-based paint inside rental apartments. While these regulations don’t pertain to owner-occupied co-op or condo units, they do pertain to all sublets or sponsor- or investor-owned rental units. Boards and management companies need to track this because violations are issued to the building, not the apartment owner.
Local Law 31, which went into effect on Aug. 9, requires an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer inspection to be performed within the next five years in certain apartments. Additionally, if a child under the age of 6 lives in the sublet or rented unit, the owner has one year, instead of five, to perform the XRF inspection. If a unit that is being rented out falls under the law, the board becomes responsible for conducting an XRF test in the building’s common areas.
“Normally the Department of Buildings would send a violation to the property owner, which is the co-op,” says Geoffrey Mazel, a partner at the law firm Hankin & Mazel. “And then the co-op, pursuant to the terms of the proprietary lease, would hold the shareholder responsible.”
Dennis DePaola, executive vice president and director of compliance at the property management company Orsid New York, agrees. “The city would put the violation on the building,” he says, “and then it would be incumbent upon us to go and charge it back and have the remediation done and paid for by the unit-owner or shareholder. We’re sort of in the middle, between the city and the landlord.”
Josh Sarett is founder and CEO of ALC Environmental, an environmental consulting, testing and remediation firm. He says that even under the original law, people were confused about when an apartment needed a lead inspection: “People were misinterpreting the regulation that if a child under 6 didn’t move into the apartment, they didn’t have to do the required (inspection) work.” That wasn’t the case then, he says, and that’s not the case now. “It doesn’t matter who moves into the apartment. They still must do the turnover work, and they still must do all the XRF testing.”