Local Law 1 Expands to Cover One- and Two-Unit Buildings
Local Law 29 of 2020 became effective on Feb. 11, 2021. It expanded the application of New York City’s lead paint rules to include tenant-occupied, one- and two-unit buildings. Before Local Law 29 went into effect, most of Local Law 1, NYC’s lead poisoning prevention law, had applied to residential buildings with three or more units. Now, with the change, one- and two-unit buildings (except those units occupied by the owner or a member of the owner’s family) are covered by Local Law 1.
Local Law 1 Basics
Local Law 1 is the New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act of 2003. The purpose of the law is to prevent lead paint hazards in housing. Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves, and blood. Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. Some symptoms of lead poisoning may include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness, and irritability. Children who are lead poisoned may show no symptoms.
Dust from lead paint is the most common cause of childhood lead poisoning. Lead paint chips and dust can spread around an apartment if paint is peeling or repairs are done unsafely. Young children can then swallow lead dust when they put their hands and toys in their mouths.
Local Law 1 requires owners to follow certain rules meant to help prevent children from being lead-poisoned. It presumes lead-based paint could exist in dwelling units and common areas if:
- The building was built before Jan. 1, 1960;
- The building has tenant-occupied apartments; and
- A child under the age of 6 resides in the dwelling unit. “Resides” means to routinely spend 10 or more hours per week in a dwelling unit, which includes both a child who lives in the apartment and a child who just visits for this period of time.
If Local Law 1 applies to your building, you must perform proactive and reactive duties to confirm that paint is intact and to make sure peeling paint and deteriorated surfaces are properly fixed and handled. In addition, you must use safe work practices for any construction activities that disturb painted surfaces in assuming the paint is lead-based (unless the paint has already been tested). These requirements also exist for dwelling units and common areas built between Jan. 1, 1960, and Jan. 1, 1978, if the owner knows there is lead-based paint.
Here are the items owners must do to comply with Local Law 1 and HPD rules:
- Give HPD’s lead-based paint notice to new and renewing occupants;
- Give a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) lead-based paint pamphlet to new occupants;
- Give HPD’s annual “January” lead-based paint notice to current occupants;
- Conduct an annual inspection for lead-based paint hazards in apartments where children younger than 6 live, as well as in the building’s common areas;
- Use safe work practices and trained workers when fixing lead paint hazards and when doing general repair work that disturbs lead paint. Local Law 1 requires owners to use firms certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency when disturbing more than 100 square feet of lead paint, replacing windows, or fixing violations issued by HPD;
- Repair lead paint hazards before a new tenant moves into an apartment; and
- Keep records of all notices, inspections, repairs of lead paint hazards, and other matters related to the law. Owners must retain the records at least 10 years and certify compliance with these activities as a part of the annual property registration.