Assemblymember Rivera Announces Passage of Two Bills That Will Protect Renters and Homeowners from Lead Paint Exposure
Bill A.7488 will close loophole that excludes lead poisoning from insurance coverage; A.06608 will require the disclosure of lead paint test reports in real estate transactions
ALBANY – New York State Assemblymember Jonathan D. Rivera announced that the Assembly passed legislation this week that will facilitate strides to better protect New York residents from exposure to lead-based paint by closing key insurance loopholes and mandating more transparency in real estate transactions.
Under bill A.7488, the practice known as “Lead Poisoning Exclusion” would be prohibited. It is currently found in most general liability insurance policies. The Department of Financial Services allows insurance to write general liability policies that specifically exclude lead poisoning claims from their coverage. The bill requires that liability coverage include coverage for injuries or damage caused by exposure to lead paint.
Bill A.06608A, or the “Lead-based Paint Disclosure Act,” requires property owners to conduct lead paint tests and provide the reports of such tests before selling or leasing the property. The test reports must also then be submitted to the Department of Health. This bill will also give state health officials the knowledge of which properties do and do not have lead paint hazards. By making this information public, the private market will encourage proactive repair and maintenance to address lead paint hazards. Should it be signed into law, the act would take effect August 1, 2022.
Assemblymember Rivera said, “These two bills will provide protections for all New Yorkers that should have been in place long ago. No mother should have to be concerned that the paint in a new apartment could drastically alter her child’s development and potentially inhibit them for life. It’s far past time that the state took a proactive approach to both protecting those renting from landlords, while simultaneously lowering their risk of financial liability as a result of lead exposure.”
The most common cause of lead poisoning in children is the ingestion of lead paint from poorly maintained residential housing units — the effects of which can be severe and long-lasting.
While lead is potentially harmful to individuals at any age, it is especially dangerous for children under the age of six. The Centers for Disease Control reports that “there is no known blood lead level for children without some level of risk for the adverse neurological effects of lead in children.”
Lead poisoning can cause permanent neurological damage including loss of I.Q., developmental delays, learning disabilities, memory loss, hearing loss, attention deficits, hyperactivity, and behavioral disorders. In extreme cases, lead exposure can result in organ failure and death.
In New York, the biggest catalysts of lead poisoning are the lead hazards in pre-1978 housing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York has more children identified with elevated blood lead levels than any other states. Over 100,000 young children in the state may have a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (pg/dL) or higher.
New York also has the nation’s greatest number of housing units, the highest percentage of pre-1960 and pre-1950 housing, and the oldest housing inventory among the 50 states. This older housing stock places New Yorkers at greater risk of exposure to lead hazards.
While this legislation will provide tangible protections to all New Yorkers, the bill will be of particular benefit to residents in Erie County and the City of Buffalo.
Data from The Lead Safe Task Force indicates that Erie County’s lead screening rate for children tested by age 36 months continues to steadily climb. The rate has increased from 69.52% in 2016 to 73.61% in 2019. Erie County’s screening rate is routinely one of the highest in the state.
The Nature of Lead Exposure in Buffalo Research conducted by the Lead Safe Task Force shows a clear relationship between lead poisoning and rental properties. Findings include:
- Most children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels (EBLLs) live in City of Buffalo single family homes and doubles owned by over 14,000 different property owners.
- Over 80% of the properties where children are lead poisoned are rental properties.
- Many low-income families are economically trapped in unhealthy rental housing with a long list of dangerous conditions in addition to lead hazards.
Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and co-founder of Lead-Free Kids NY, said, “No one should suffer from lead poisoning, but sadly, too many of New York’s children still do. When kids are poisoned by lead from paint in a rental home, their parents should not have to pay for care. These bills will benefit New York’s families by providing financial resources and pressure insurance companies to minimize their financial liability by compelling landlords they insure to provide safe housing. We applaud Assemblyman Jonathan Rivera for his leadership on this issue and urge the Senate to pass matching legislation immediately.”
Stephanie J. Simeon, Executive Director for Heart of the City, said, “The City of Buffalo continues to see the harmful effects of the exposure of tenants and families to lead paint. A healthy, safe, affordable and accessible home supports basic needs, and every landlord should be providing just that. Every action to protect families and encourage landlords to safely remove lead risk hazards from homes is an action we see as necessary. As a healthy housing production partner, Heart of the City Neighborhoods fully support Assemblyman Rivera’s leadership around these much needed bills.”
- Prohibits the exclusion of coverage for losses or damages caused by exposure to lead-based paint.
- States that no insurer providing liability coverage to rental property owners can exclude coverage for losses or damages caused by exposure to lead-based paint.
- Requires that a building owner must provide to any buyer, a certificate that such property has been tested for lead-based paint and provide the report of such test before executing any sale of the property. It also requires that the building owner file such certificate and reports with the State Department of Health in the relevant county, and it prohibits any local title office from accepting an instrument of transfer of title unless the required a certificate is provided. Building owners who need to conduct necessary lead-based paint testing may deduct the cost of such tests from the taxes owed on the sale of the property.
- Agents have the duty to inform their respective party of the rights and requirements under this law. If one party is not represented by an agent, the agent of the represented party also has a duty to inform the unrepresented party.