Special Supplement for New York City Tenants

As this revision of "Look Out For Lead" was being prepared for printing, the New York City Council repealed NYC's Local Law 1 and passed a bill to replace it. The new bill, signed into law by Mayor Guiliani, modifies the obligations of both landlords and tenants in multiple dwellings erected before 1960 within the City of New York in which children under the age of six reside. The new law goes into effect in the fall of 1999. The law requires landlords to undertake maintenance-based risk reduction activities aimed at correcting lead paint hazards before a child becomes lead poisoned. This does not apply in instances where a blood test indicates that a child has a blood lead level of 20 ug/dl or more -- city and state health regulations continue to apply in those cases.

Like the City's window guard regulation, the new lead paint law requires tenants to respond to landlords' annual inquiries as to whether a child age six or younger lives in the apartment. The tenant's affirmative response activates the landlord's obligation to conduct an annual visual inspection for lead paint hazards in the apartment and to correct any such hazards found. The paint in pre-1960 multiple dwellings is presumed to be lead based paint unless testing shows otherwise. Dry scraping and dry sanding of lead paint, or paint of unknown lead content, is prohibited. Parents should be vigilant to ensure that hazard correction is conducted using the following safe work practices and interim controls specified in the law:

  • Seal off work area to restrict access, to the extent practicable and not prohibited
  • Either cover all movable objects in the work area or HEPA vacuum all such objects and then remove them from the work area
  • Cover floor
  • Sequester within the restricted access work area, or remove in a safe manner, all materials used in the work area (sheeting, plastic, work clothes) that may contain work-related debris, to minimize exposure of occupants
  • Wet-scrape all peeling paint using a scraper and water misting and repair all deteriorated subsurfaces that are covered with paint
  • HEPA-vacuum all affected surfaces and the floors in the work area, or wash all surfaces in the work area with detergent
  • Provide for the disposal of any peeling paint or any materials containing peeling paint, paint chips, dust or other work-related debris in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations
  • Repaint all affected areas, keeping all paint, thinners, solvents, primers, and strippers in their original containers
  • Wet-mop or HEPA-vacuum and visually examine work area at the end of each work day
  • Minimize dispersion of work-related debris and advise occupants not to enter the work area until the work has been completed
  • At completion of work, remove all work related debris and materials in a safe manner,and HEPA-vacuum or detergent-wash all surfaces exposed to work related-debris, beginning with ceilings, then down walls and across floors
  • Adjust all doors and windows to ensure that they are properly hung, so that no painted surfaces bind
  • Maintain for three years records of any work performed pursuant to this law, make them available to the health department upon request, and transfer them to subsequent owners

If a tenant does not respond to the landlord's inquiry, or responds that there are no children residing in the tenant's apartment, the landlord has no duty concerning such annual inspection and hazard correction. Therefore, it is vital that tenant families respond in writing as required. Tenants also have the duty to inform the landlord in writing if a child under six years of age first comes to reside in their apartments in the interim periods between the landlords' yearly inquiries.

Tenants have the duty to provide access to the landlord at a reasonable time for the purposes of inspection and repair of lead based paint hazards. Tenants also have the duty to provide notice to the landlord of any lead based paint hazard that develops or arises during the interim periods between annual visual inspections. If this happens, be sure to notify the landlord immediately, since lead paint that is peeling or on a deteriorated surface in a dwelling unit in which a child under the age of six resides presents an immediate lead poisoning hazard and is still a violation that the landlord is required to correct. If the needed repairs are not made, call the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development's Central Complaint Bureau (212-960-4800) to report a "peeling lead paint condition in a dwelling in which a child under the age of six resides." The Department will inspect the apartment, and if this inspection determines the existence of a condition constituting a violation, the department will serve a notice of violation on the owner. If the owner fails to correct the violation by the date specified by the Department, the Department is then required to correct the violation within sixty days.

Copies of this brochure and other New York State Attorney General reports on environmental subjects are available at the Attorney General's website (www.oag.state.us) or from the New York State Department of Law, Environmental Protection Bureau at:


    Justice Building
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    (518) 776-2000
    (518) 776-2400
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    (212) 416-8446
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    Buffalo, NY 14202
    716) 853-8400

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