Cleveland’s Lead Safe Rental Law Step 3: Doing the Work While Protecting Tenants

The purpose of Cleveland’s lead-safe rental law is to protect the city’s youngest renters—those under the age of 6—from the dangerous and irreversible health consequences of lead poisoning. However, it’s important to note that the process of making a home lead-safe can actually increase exposure to tenants if precautions are not taken. This is because much of the work disturbs lead-based paint and can cause a large amount of contaminated dust to become airborne then settle throughout the home.

A full and detailed description of how to protect tenants can be found in Chapter 8 of the HUD Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead Based Paint in Housing (link is below). Also, as stated in a previous blog post, federal law requires anyone doing remediation - including property owners - to obtain a Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) certification. The class for this certification goes into great detail how to prepare worksites and control lead dust throughout hazard control work.

While I’m not going to go into extreme detail about protection measures—you can get that from HUD—I do want to discuss some of the considerations that need to be taken into account.

The first consideration is what are called the de minimis HUD standard. This refers to the amount of area of paint disturbance you’re permitted before being required to take protective measures. These standards are as follows:

· 20 square feet on exterior surfaces

· 2 square feet in any one interior room

· 10 percent of the total surface area on an interior or exterior type of component with a small surface area, such as window sills, baseboards, and trim.

While you may not have to take protective measures, you’ll still need to clean these areas of any dust created. I’ll talk about final cleanup in a later post.

If all the work you have to do to comply with Cleveland’s lead law falls under the de minimis standards, consider yourself incredibly lucky. You might be the only one in the city.

Most, if not all, landlords will have to take protective measures. The next consideration is whether or not to relocate tenants during hazard control work. The HUD Guidelines recommends temporary relocation of tenants if work is going to last over several days and generate considerable amounts of dust. Again, if you have the ability and money to relocate your tenants for a week, consider yourself (and