Maryland’s Groundbreaking Lead Law
Marylanders can be proud that we introduced a ground breaking lead paint law in the 1990’s. This was politics at it’s best creating a law that was a win – win for both tenants and landlords. If landlords registered their properties and took steps to prevent lead paint hazards they would be protected from lawsuits. Landlords got protection from outrageous lawsuits, tenants got safer properties and the slum lords and bad players who did not comply would still be subject to million dollar law suits.
The best part about this law is it worked. Lead poisoning dropped dramatically – by 95%. The process required by the law must be working because today most lead poisoning comes from either; owner occupied homes (the law only applies to rental properties), or homes owned by landlords NOT compiling with the law.
Landlords – Always the Scapegoat
Yet because landlords are viewed as the bad guys, someone has decided we need tougher laws. The current law requires landlords of properties built pre 1950 to do either a lead dust test OR a 10 step cleaning and inspection process. The new requirement would be that landlords need to do both. The fiscal note attached to the Senate bill says the cost to landlords (and ultimately tenants) will be $30 Million+ per year. That’s pretty expensive for something that doesn’t address the real problem.
Who does this bill serve?
Do you think tenants will want the higher rents this will bring? Will tenants think it is a fair trade, higher rents for redundant testing? How will tenants feel when they find out they are paying higher rents because of lead poising in owner occupied homes.
When In Doubt Pass a New Law
Why do politicians always think the answer is a new law? If the problem is people aren’t obeying the existing law the answer is not to make a new law. If people are driving 90 miles an hour on the Beltway and causing horrific accidents the answer is not making the speed limit 35mph. That only penalizes law abiding citizens.
Oppose MD Senate Bill 504
The vote on this punitive bill will take place soon in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR). Let your Senator know that you expect a higher standard. Let them know you want laws that address the real problem, not laws that sound good. Lead poisoning is too important an issue to deal with it via a feel good law. Here’s a website that makes it easy to find your representatives. Type in your address and your representatives come up on the left. You are looking for the state senator. Here is the Maryland General Assembly webpage. You can find and track proposed laws on that site. You get bonus points for contacting the members of the Judiciary Procedures Committee which is hearing this bill.
Here is a link to a fact sheet prepared by the the Property Owners Association.