EPA Cracks Down on Lead Paint Violations in New England

January 13th, 2012 by DWM Magazine

Several companies in New England area have been fined for violating the federal lead paint disclosure law, while others are facing possible fines for alleged violations. The owners and manager of 11 housing units at ten properties in the Holyoke, Mass., area have agreed to pay a total of $16,000 to resolve claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they violated the federal lead paint disclosure law, while two companies face significant penalties for violating the laws at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine and the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.

In Holyoke, the EPA announcement says Atlas Property Management Inc., 224-224A Washington Street Nominee Realty Trust, and Archgate Townhouses LLC violated the law between 2007 and 2009 by failing to provide prospective tenants with information concerning the presence of lead paint.

Atlas Property Management of Holyoke, which managed all of the properties and handled all of the lease transactions in question, and the Washington Street Trust, which owns 10 of the 11 units in question, together agreed to pay a total penalty of $12,500 to resolve the EPA allegations, according to the announcement. Likewise, Archgate Townhouses of Swampscott, which owns just one of the units at issue, agreed to pay $3,500 to settle its alleged violations. The violations against Archgate arise out of an October 2009 lease from one of the rental units in a property located at 758 Westfield St. in West Springfield, according to the EPA announcement.

All three parties were charged with failing to give tenants required lead hazard information pamphlets, failing to include lead warning statements in a lease, failing to include a disclosure statement regarding lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards, and failing to provide records or other information pertaining to lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards.

Both settlements stem from a September 2007 EPA inspection of Atlas Property Management offices in Holyoke and the penalties are based on the severity of the violations and the parties’ financial condition, among other factors, reports the EPA, adding that all of the properties cited were built before 1978 and at least one child lived in all but one of the units at the time of the violations.

In related news, a complaint was also filed by the EPA asserting that Northeast Housing LLC, and Balfour Beatty Military Housing Management LLC failed on multiple occasions over several years to notify prospective tenants, including families with young children, about potential lead paint hazards in housing managed by the companies on the two Navy bases in New England.

According to the EPA announcement, the companies face a possible fine of $153,070 for alleged violations of the Lead Based Paint Disclosure Rule. EPA’s complaint asserts that the two companies failed to comply with the Disclosure Rule when they entered into 13 contracts to lease target housing for military personnel during the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the U.S. Naval Submarine Base.

The housing at both bases is owned by Northeast, a joint venture limited liability company between the Department of the Navy and a wholly owned subsidiary of Balfour Beatty Communities LLC, of which the BBC affiliate is the managing member, reports the EPA, adding that there are approximately 25 target housing units located at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where housing was built in the 1800s and early 1900s. There are approximately 735 target housing units at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, which was built in the early 1960s.

According to the EPA complaint, the companies failed to provide available records and reports regarding lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards to 13 lessees (10 lessees at Portsmouth and three lessees at the Connecticut base). Nine of the lessees were families with children, including seven families with children under the age of six.

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