Any home built before 1978 is reasonably presumed to contain lead-based paint. Because of the age of Cleveland’s housing stock and the disinvestment in it, children growing up in Cleveland are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning and its negative consequences. Recognizing this, in 2019, Cleveland City Council passed legislation that requires owners of rental property in the City to prove that their dwelling units are safe from lead hazards.
C.C.O. §365.04(b) requires all residential rental units constructed before January 1, 1978, to have lead-safe certification from the Director of Building and Housing in accordance with a quarterly roll-out schedule, but in no case later than March 1, 2023. The quarterly roll-out schedule is as follows: 44120, 44135 by March 31, 2021; 44106, 44111 by June 30, 2021; 44102, 44142 by September 30, 2021; 44110, 44113, 44107, 44130 by December 31, 2021; 44103, 44144, 44128, 44119, 44129 by March 31, 2022; 44104, 44108, 44114, 44134, 44117, 44131 by June 30, 2022; 44109, 44127, 44115 by September 30, 2022; and 44125, 44112, 44105, 44121, 44122, 44118 by December 31, 2022.
To obtain a lead-safe certification, a clearance examination report or lead risk assessment completed within ninety (90) of the date of submission, must be submitted along with the lead-safe certification application to the City of Cleveland Department of Building and Housing. Prior to be able to obtain a clearance report, lead remediation may be needed depending on the property. The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition has resources available to property owners to assist in the lead-safe certification process including a list of certified professionals who are qualified to do remediation and provide clearance examination reports. It should be noted that the Clearance Examiner cannot be related to or the same as the RRP Licensed contractor that remediated the property if needed. Property owners also cannot conduct a clearance examination on their own properties. Once obtained a lead-safe certification is valid for two (2) years and owners are required to re-apply no later than thirty (30) days prior to the expiration.
C.C.O. §365.04(C) provides a few narrow exceptions to the lead-safe certification requirements. A comprehensive lead risk assessment and paint inspection report, issued by a lead risk assessor verifying that the unit has been abated of lead hazards in accordance with 40 C.F.R. 745.227 and applicable state law which was completed within twenty (20) years prior to the date of submission can be submitted with the application in lieu of obtaining a clearance examination report or lead risk assessment. This can be a more economical option for property owners as it is effective for twenty (20) years instead of only ninety (90) days. Additionally, if the residential unit is unoccupied and the owner does not receive rent or anything else of value the owner is not required to receive lead-safe certification. However, in order to take advantage of this exception the owner must annually submit an affidavit to the City attesting that the unit is unoccupied and no rent is received.
Any property owner found to be in violation of the lead-safe certification requirements can be found guilty of a minor misdemeanor. Additionally, in order to bring an eviction action in the Cleveland Municipal Housing Court evidence of lead-safe certification is required to be attached to the eviction complaint. Failure to include evidence of lead-safe certification will result in dismissal of eviction complaint and the property owner will be unable to proceed with an eviction action until lead-safe certification is obtained.
The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition is devoted to providing both property owners and tenants information regarding lead safety and the lead-safe certification process.
Should you have any questions or would like further clarification on this or other real estate matters, reach out to your contact at Mansour Gavin or one of the attorneys in our Real Estate Group.