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For information regarding lead assistance programs, please visit the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs website.
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P.L.2021, c.182 (adopted as N.J.A.C 5:28A) requires that municipalities conduct inspections in certain types of rental housing units to identify lead-based paint hazards and issue “lead-safe” certificates every (2) years. Ordinance #2023-09 adopts the guidelines of this law.
Property owners are required to remediate any lead-based paint hazards that are identified via these inspections.
Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal that is toxic to humans. Prior to 1972 in New Jersey, and before 1978 in the rest of the United States, lead was used as an additive in paint. Lead exposure in children can have a myriad of health effects including damage to the nervous system and kidneys, as well as learning disabilities and decreased intelligence. When lead-based paint deteriorates through peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking, dust and chips can form which can lead to the ingestion of lead and resultant health effects.
N.J.A.C 5:28A-23 outlines two primary methods to identify lead-based paint: visual inspections and dust wipe inspections. Because less than three percent of children in the municipality have an elevated blood lead level, Princeton can conduct visual inspections. However, Princeton also reserves the right to undertake dust wipe sampling.
A visual lead assessment is an examination of all painted building components for deteriorated paint or visible surface dust, debris, or residue. The inspector will look for paint chips or dust from painting activities that were not cleaned up and paint residue on floors.
Dust wipe sampling is collected by wiping a representative surface, including floors (both carpeted and uncarpeted), interior windowsills, and other similar surfaces, and testing for lead in accordance with a method approved by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Pursuant to N.J.A.C 5:28A-2.4, lead-safe certificates are issued to properties that are found to not have interior lead-based paint hazards after undergoing periodic inspection. This includes the unit itself and common areas, such as hallways or entrances.
Pursuant to NJ A.C. 5:17-3.6(b), a lead-free certificate is issued to properties that have no lead-based paint on any surface within the unit, common area, or building.
Also outlined in NJ A.C. 5:17 is lead-hazard free certification, which does not meet the ordinance requirements as per the exemption guidelines in N.J.A.C. 5:28A-1.3(b). After inspection and risk assessment, properties can be deemed “lead-hazard free” in the absence of any condition that causes exposure to lead (i.e. lead-contaminated dust, soil, or paint).
Princeton’s municipal inspectors have the training and authority to issue lead-safe certificates, valid for (2) years. Obtaining a lead-free certificate from a certified lead evaluation contractor would exempt a property from the inspections under this ordinance and is valid for life. Lead-hazard free certification does not meet the requirements for exemption. Such properties would still need to be inspected to obtain a lead-safe certificate every (2) years.
All rental units that are required to be inspected pursuant to N.J. 5:28A must be inspected for lead-based paint within (2) years of the effective date of the law, July 2, 2022, or upon tenant turnover, whichever is earlier.
Based on the municipal ordinance, inspections must take place every (2) years at the expiration of the “lead-safe” certificate.
As per Ordinance #2023-09, the fees are as follows:
*An additional fee of twenty dollars ($20.00) shall be assessed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 52:27D-437.10 and N.J.A.C. 5:28A-2.2(b), to be deposited into the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Act Fund under the administration of the New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs.
Property owners that opt to directly hire a lead evaluation contractor are still subject to the $20 fee, as this is independent of the municipal inspection fee.
Property owners may elect to hire a certified lead evaluation contractor to obtain a “lead-safe” certificate. However, municipalities are also allowed to perform supplemental inspections to confirm that such inspections are being conducted in accordance with the legal requirements.
Municipalities may prohibit owners of rental units from directly hiring a lead evaluation contractor if…
If you do choose to directly hire a lead evaluation contractor, the lead-safe certificate must be presented to the Princeton Bureau of Rental Housing Inspections. The property owner is also still subject to the $20 fee to be deposited into the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Act Fund pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:28A-2.2(b).
To prepare for this ordinance and its associated requirements, property owners/landlords are encouraged to remediate any lead-based paint hazards in their rental units. If you know that your housing does not contain any lead-based paint, you can also seek out a “lead-free” certificate by hiring a licensed lead evaluation contractor pursuant to N.J. A.C. 5:17-3.6(b). By obtaining this certification, you exempt yourself from these inspections.
If lead-based paint hazards are identified, then the owner of the dwelling shall remediate the hazards through abatement or interim controls. This work must be initiated within (30) days of the violation. Remediation work will be considered initiated when a property owner has hired a lead abatement contractor or another qualified party.
Interim controls and abatement are the two types of lead remediation identified in this act. Should you have any lead-based paint hazards identified in your rental unit, you must undertake one of these strategies to rectify the issue to pass inspection.
Interim controls are measures that are designed to temporarily reduce human exposure to lead-based paint hazards, which might include specialized cleaning, repairs, painting, or containment.
Lead abatement are measures that are designed to eliminate lead-based paint hazards. This work is more extensive.
When fixtures in the home are structurally sound and the primary lead exposure is through deteriorating paint and dust, interim controls may be more appropriate. This may also be the case in the event the housing is slated for demolition or renovation in a few years. However, if there are significant structural defects or if the walls are seriously deteriorated or subject to excessive moisture, abatement is more appropriate.
If a municipality determines that a property owner has failed to comply with the requirements of this law, the property owner must be given (30) days to cure any violation by ordering the necessary inspection or by initiating remediation.
If the dwelling owner has not cured the violation within (30) days, the owner shall be subject to a penalty not to exceed $1,000 per week until the required inspection has been conducted or remediation efforts have been initiated.
Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:28A-2.5(a), the property owner is able choose the appropriate remediation method, whether through interim controls or lead abatement.
Reinspection is dependent on the remediation method used pursuant to N.J.A.C 5:28A-2.5(e).
If interim controls have been used, the unit must be re-inspected within (60) days of the initial inspection using dust-wipe sampling.
If the unit has been remediated through lead abatement, then the lead-free certificate that is issued at the final clearance inspection will exempt the unit from future lead-safe inspections. This certificate must be presented to the Princeton Bureau of Housing Inspections.
Pursuant to N.J. A.C. 5:28A-3.1(a), the property owner must supply their tenant with a copy of their valid lead-safe certificate at the time of turnover and also must attach the lead-safe certificate to the lease.
All responsibility lies with the property owner, who must initiate lead remediation work within (30) days of the violation in accordance with applicable law. This work is done by certified contractors, who must minimize the creation of dust and prevent its spread when performing work that disturbs a painted surface.
If lead remediation work takes longer than a day, the contractor should block off areas where there is lead dust. No occupants of the unit should enter blocked-off areas during this remediation period.
This type of work may require the temporary relocation of tenants in accordance with applicable law.
Once remediation has been completed, an inspector will return to the unit for reinspection to determine that the identified lead-based paint hazards have been appropriately remediated.
Lead exposure is a primary concern for children under the age of 6 (72 months) and pregnant women. If lead-based paint hazards are found in your unit, these groups should be tested to determine if they have elevated blood lead levels.
If a child under the age of 6 has a confirmed blood lead level of 5 g/dL or greater, a public health nurse will manage the case pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:51-2.4.
For more information regarding lead exposure, please visit the CDC's website.