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Protecting Tenants

On May 3, 2010, Oregon became authorized to enforce the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program. These Oregon laws were created in response to an EPA issued rule (April 22, 2008) requiring the use of lead safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. The programs are now in effect in lieu of the federal renovation programs.

Starting in April of 2010, contractors performing renovation and repairs to properties built pre-1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead poisoning.

This Legislation is aimed at: Private rental housing, public housing, federally owned housing, and housing receiving Federal assistance, built pre-1978, where renovations will disturb lead based paint, which the Consumer Products Safety Commission says: Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults.

In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. It can retard mental and physical development and reduce attention span. It can also retard fetal development even at extremely low levels of lead. In adults, it can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination, and nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body.

Lead poisoning may also cause problems with reproduction (such as a decreased sperm count). It may also increase blood pressure. Thus, young children, fetuses, infants, and adults with high blood pressure are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead.

This means that owner's of pre-1978 rental housing need to be particularly vigilant. To help establish if you have tenants exposed to lead based paint, you can buy a lead based paint test kit at your local hardware store (unless you have a Section 8 tenant).

In addition to testing, the EPA also recommends a rigorous inspection. In addition to testing, the EPA also recommends a rigorous inspection. You can find out more by logging in to epa.gov where you can find the EPA pamphlet Testing Your Home for Lead, In Paint, Dust, and Soil.

If you have concerns about do-it-yourself kits or your test results, hire an independent lead based paint testing company. If your property tests positive, you must disclose your lead testing results every time a new tenant moves into your property.

Be Aware

Generally, minor repair and maintenance activities(less that 6 square feet per interior room or 20 square feet per exterior project) are exempt from work practice requirements. However, this exemption does not apply to jobs involving window replacement or demolition, or that involve prohibited work practices. In addition, the regulations for federally–owned or federally-assisted housing (including Section 8) follow theHousing & Urban Development Agency's (HUD) rules which kick in at 2 sq.ft. rather than 6 sq.ft. Owners doing their own maintenance at rental properties are not exempted from the required testing, posting or work safe practices.

Prohibited work practices

As part of the rule setting, the government also included prohibited work practices which include: open flame burning, using heat guns at greater than 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit and the use of power tools without high efficiency particulate air ( HEPA) exhaust control (to collect dust that is generated).

The RRP rules do not apply if:

  • Building or housing built in 1978 or later.
  • Housing is a zero-bedroom dwelling or housing is for the elderly or disabled and no children are expected to reside in the home or building.
  • The work is a lead abatement project.
  • Minor repair and maintenance activities will disturb 6 square feet or less of painted surfaces per room for interior projects, and 20 square feet or less of painted surface for exterior project.
  • It has been determined that the renovation will not involve lead-based paint.

More information regarding the Oregon training and enforcement of these RRP practices can be found at oregon.gov or oregon.gov/CCB.

Another good source of further information is the pamphlet published by the EPA. It can be found at www.epa.gov/lead. It is called Steps to lead safe Renovation, Repair and Painting.

In the future if you are completing renovations, repairs or painting a property, you will want to first make sure you don't have any lead based paint at the site, and if you do, hire a certified lead based paint renovator to work on the project for you. Remember that lead dust can affect you as well as lead paint. There are significant fines in place if you do not follow the rules.

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