Industry Group Asks City to Help Pay for Lead Abatement
The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) recently asked the city to help owners cover the costs of lead abatement in their buildings in testimony submitted to the City Council. The industry group argued that changes to the state’s rent law hinders owners’ abilities to pay for lead testing and mitigation. The group pointed to the law’s limiting of renovation costs that can be passed onto rent-stabilized tenants to $15,000 over 15 years.
According to REBNY, lead mitigation for larger units can run as high as $75,000. The allowable rent increases “in no way cover the expense of compliance with the spirit of the laws on the books regarding lead hazard containment and abatement,” the group said. The testimony cited a new program in Washington, D.C., that allows property owners to recoup some or all of the costs of replacing lead pipes. Under that program, which is starting with $1.8 million in funding, property owners can recover 80 percent or 100 percent of replacement costs if residents’ income doesn’t exceed specified amounts.
The testimony was in response to a hearing held on LeadFreeNYC, a program launched by the de Blasio administration earlier this year targeting childhood lead exposure. At the hearing, Council members criticized the health and buildings departments for inconsistent enforcement of a 2004 law requiring landlords to identify and remediate lead-based paint hazards in apartments with young children.
“With 3,000 to 4,000 children still being poisoned by lead a year in New York City, 15 years after the passage of Local Law 1 of 2004, it is clear that the city must use every tool at its disposal to remediate and abate lead from residential spaces,” Councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr., who chairs the Housing and Buildings Committee, said in a statement. “An income-sensitive program that provides support to replace pipes and remediate lead makes sense.”