City Council Introduces Bill to Redefine ‘Residency’ for Lead Paint Removal Purposes

In April 2016, the New York State Court of Appeals found that a landlord has no duty to remove lead paint from apartments where children 6 years or younger may spend time but don’t live. The court found that a child spending in excess of 50 hours a week in an apartment didn’t trigger the landlord’s duty [Yaniveth R. v. LTD Realty Co., April 2016]. In the case, the 6 year old lived with her parents, but stayed with her paternal grandmother in the grandmother’s rented apartment five days a week for a total of 50 hours per week while her parents worked. The child was found to have elevated levels of lead in her blood at 1 year of age. And in 2006, the child’s mother sued the owner of the grandmother’s apartment based on the New York City led abatement law.

In response to this ruling, City Council members recently introduced a bill to define “residency” in the city’s Lead Law. The Administrative Code imposes a duty on landlords to remove lead-based paint in any dwelling unit in which a child 6 years of age or under resides. The owners successfully defended by arguing that the child didn’t reside in the apartment and wasn’t entitled to the protections of the local law.

The court cited multiple definitions of the word “reside” and concluded that residence implies some degree of permanence and an intention to remain. The proposed bill would add to the Administrative Code an explicit definition to reside—“being present in a dwelling unit for 15 or more hours in a typical week.”