How does the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, & Painting Rule affect non-profit housing agencies as landlords or property managers?
Organizations that own or manage affordable housing units may not be aware that the RRP Rules apply to more than just handing out the Renovate Right pamphlet to new tenants. If your agency owns or manages pre-1978 housing, an employee performing work that may disturb lead based paint must be an RRP Certified Contractor, and the agency needs to be a Certified Firm.
What about the RRP Exemption for components that do not contain lead?
Under EPA rules, work on target housing may be exempt from using Lead Safe Work Practices if the Certified Contractor can document, using an EPA Recognized Test Kit, that the area to be disturbed by renovation work does not contain lead. However, the rule clearly states that EPA Recognized Test Kit results are only valid when used by a Certified Contractor. That Certified Contractor needs to either be an EPA Certified Firm, or work for one. This presents a compliance issue for agencies acting as landlords or property managers who employ a handyman or maintenance staff.
The property we own or manage was a gut-rehab project. I know there is no longer lead based paint anywhere in the building. Isn’t that enough for an exemption?
While this seems like sound logic, the issue is compliance documentation. You may have personally witnessed every last paint chip being removed from the property, and maybe even had a Clearance test done if the project involved federal funding. However, your agency is still the owner or manager of a pre-1978 house which has no officially recognized lead-free documentation. The Clearance test at the end of the project documents no lead based paint hazards remained after the renovation. You may still need to have an RRP Certified Contractor (who owns or works for an EPA Certified Firm) use an EPA recognized test kit to document your RRP Rule exemption. You may also choose to have a Lead Inspection, using an X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer to document the property’s lead-free status.
What if we only hire outside contractors?
If the property was built prior to 1978, and the agency has no official documentation of lead-free status, any contractor performing work that may disturb a painted surface must be RRP Certified (and own or work for an EPA Certified Firm).
What about HUD?
The Venn Diagram of EPA / HUD compliance is where lead regulations can get tricky. I’ll address this in more detail next month, so for now let’s focus on the question of RRP compliance with agency owned or managed rental properties. If your property is still receiving federal assistance, you’re now dealing with Title X compliance as well as the RRP Rule. This means, first and foremost, that you can no longer use a single Certified Contractor with a crew of non-certified trained workers. In federally funded target housing, every worker must be RRP Certified. In addition, HUD’s de minimus level is 2 square feet interior, as opposed to the EPA’s minor repair and maintenance exemption of 6 square feet – and keep in mind that window replacement, demolition of any kind, and any work using a prohibited practice are not eligible for either exemption. Federal assistance can take many forms. For example, perhaps the project was funded by an acquisition/rehabilitation grant or assisted by a rental rehab program that is still under a regulatory period. Rental assistance is also federal funding, whether that assistance is for the entire building or tenant-specific. In some cases, Low Income Housing Tax Credits may also trigger Title X regulations.
Where can I get more information?
Both EPA and HUD websites have dedicated Lead Based Paint Compliance pages:
I also recommend the National Lead Information Center: 1-800-424-LEAD (5323), for questions about RRP compliance.
For those of you in Upstate NY, the NYS Rural Housing Coalition is hosting RRP Initial and Refresher training at their annual Affordable Housing Conference, September 16-18, in Oswego NY. Join me at the conference for a comprehensive discussion on HUD & EPA Lead Based Paint Compliance.http://ruralhousing.org/
Michelle Read DeGarmo is president of Flatley Read, LLC, an EPA Accredited Training Firm specializing in environmental analysis and compliance management. Flatley Read, LLC is a NYS Certified Woman Owned Business.