Boston, Mass. -- Juan Hernandez, the owner of approximately 80 rental units in 17 properties in Bridgeport, Conn., will pay a penalty of $69,000 under a settlement with EPA for allegations that he violated federal lead paint disclosure rules.
According to a complaint filed by EPA’s New England office, Juan Hernandez allegedly violated lead-based paint disclosure requirements when he rented apartment units between 2008 and 2010, and failed to: give tenants required lead hazard information pamphlets; include lead warning statements in leases; disclose any known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards; and/or provide records or reports pertaining to lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. EPA’s complaint alleged that these violations occurred with respect to seven tenancies in Hernandez’s rental units.
Because most residential housing built before 1978 contains some lead-based paint, lease transactions involving these units must comply with federal lead disclosure requirements. During the time period relevant to EPA’s investigation, all of the apartment buildings owned by Mr. Hernandez were constructed prior to 1978 and are located in potential environmental justice areas. Mr. Hernandez was targeted for inspection due to reports of children with elevated blood lead levels at his properties.
Federal lead disclosure rules are meant to give tenants adequate information about the risks associated with lead paint so that they can make informed decisions before signing a lease contract. Property owners leasing housing built before 1978 are required to provide the following information to tenants: the EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home; a lead warning statement; statements disclosing any known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards; and copies of all available records or reports regarding lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards. This information must be provided to tenants before they enter into leases.
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause developmental impairment, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.