Reynolds Brown would get the lead out

Posted: December 01, 2011

LOCAL LANDLORDS aren't happy with a bill approved by a City Council committee yesterday that would require them to do more to limit lead-based poisoning.

The bill sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown requires landlords have a certified technician conduct a dust-wipe test when property built before 1978 is turned over to a new tenant. Lead-based paint was prohibited for residences in 1978.

The clearance can be done by the landlord if they obtain certification, which costs $150. The landlord would then be required to provide a copy of the dust-wipe clearance to the Department of Public Health.

"That's the only way we know what you're doing when it comes to getting rid of lead and that requires special training," Reynolds Brown said.

The measure, introduced last year and approved by Council's Committee on Public Health and Human Services yesterday, excludes student housing and units owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, which are subject to federal requirements.

More than 1,000 children a year in the city suffer from lead poisoning and some are hospitalized, said Nan Feyler, chief of staff of the Department of Public Health.

Lead poisoning affects the heart and nervous systems. If not diagnosed and treated, it can cause permanent learning and behavioral disorders.

"We believe we have created a better bill that is far less burdensome on our landlords," Reynolds Brown said, adding the proposal is the result of dozens of meetings and studies. "Ultimately, though, we need to protect our children and something needs to be done."

Following roughly seven hours of testimony and jeering at both speakers and Council members, Reynolds Brown made changes to lessen the costs to landlords who argued the bill unfairly targeted their industry, would drive-up costs for tenants, make it harder for them to rent units in a timely fashion and failed to address the issue of lead dust.

"It will make the problem worse by causing increases in expenses to property owners which will be passed on to tenants," said Victor Pinckney, president of the Homeowners Association of Philadelphia.

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