New Yorkers will now have to be told whether the home they are about to buy or rent contains lead paint, according to a federal rule that went into effect yesterday.
Advocates for children and low and moderate-income families hailed the new disclosure law.
“We are talking about million of units in the city that potentially would be affected by this,” said Kenny Schaeffer, vice chairman of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, a tenants rights union.
The new Environmental Protection Agency regulation requires that potential buyers and renters be given a pamphlet outlining the health dangers of lead-based paint and be informed whether the dwelling has such paint.
Sellers and real estate agents could face fines up to $10,000 and as much as a year in jail if the presence of known lead-based paint is not disclosed.
“The reason this is important,” Schaeffer said, “is that it’s been proven that if a baby eats even one chip of paint that has lead content, it’s enough to cause permanent and irreversible brain damage.
“We have worked with families who have had children hospitalized to have all their blood removed and cleansed of this poison.”
New York has a high incidence of lead contamination because its housing stock is very old. As much as 75% of New York State’s housing was built before 1978, when lead paint was banned, according to the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.
“This will greatly contribute to our efforts to prevent and eliminate the incidence of childhood lead poisoning nationwide,” EPA Administrator Carol Browner said.