NJ Lead Safe Law FAQ

 

New Jersey’s Lead law P.L.2021, c.182. 5. came into effect in July of 2022 and regulates pretty much all rental units in New Jersey (there are some exceptions).  The law is commonly referred to as New Jersey's Lead Safe Law. 

 

Environmental experts since the 1990s we answer some of the most common questions regarding New Jerseys Lead safe law for rental units.

 

When Did New Jersey’s Lead law P.L.2021, c.182. 5. go into effect?

The law became effective on July 22, 2022; it was enforceable as of that date. 

 

What is New Jersey’s Lead law P.L.2021, c.182. 5. all about?

New Jersey lead law targets rental properties built before 1978 and requires that the individual units be inspected for lead paint hazards. This lead risk assessment has been required for large multi-unit rental properties for years and the New Jersey's 2022 lead law is really playing catchup to the requirement for lead inspection that other states have had for years.

The law requires an initial inspection by July 22, 2024, or upon tenant turnover, whichever is sooner.

The adverse health effects of lead have been known since Roman times. Lead paint was banned nationally in 1978, although other countries banned lead decades before the United States did, so anything we do is well behind other developed countries.

 

NJ lead paint inspection

 

Are all rental properties regulated by the NJ Lead Safe Law?

 

Not every residential property is regulated by the law a quick list of exempt units is below:

 

NJ lead safe law exemptions

 

If a property is completely gutted and renovated how does that property get exempted from the two-year certification?

Any property which undergoes renovation, and in the process of that renovation is certified to be lead-free, would be exempt from inspections pursuant to P.L.2021, c.182. In short, the property would need to have a lead-based paint inspection which is a surface-by-surface inspection of surfaces for lead paint. In short, you get everything tested for lead to prove there is no more lead paint. The current inspection assumes lead paint is present and evaluates for deteriorated paint as exposed lead paint (chips, dust) pose an injection and inhalation hazard.

 

Some municipalities require visual lead assessment, and some require both visual and dust sampling, where is the list for the municipalities?

 

The method of inspection depends on the DOH data on EBLL cases in the municipality; this is available online at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/resources/leadpaint.html.

 

NJ Lead Safe Law

 

What qualifies as Lead-safe is it a dust wipe inspection or visual?

Either a visual assessment or dust wipe inspection can result in a lead-safe certification. The method of inspection for each municipality is available online at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/resources/leadpaint.html.

 

For rentals that require dust wipe sampling, must every room in the home be tested including windowsills and floors need to be wipe sampled in every room?

Yes, floors and windowsills need to be tested throughout the entirety of the dwelling.

 

So municipalities that require dust sampling should be expected to have a higher inspection cost?

Yes since dust wipe sampling involves collecting samples and having said samples analyzed at a laboratory you will incur higher inspection costs. This is due to the additional time to acquire samples, lab fees and ultimately this data being reviewed and a report drafted explaining the results, reports don’t write themselves.

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What if a dust wipe sample comes back positive?

Then the lead-based paint hazards must be appropriately addressed. And yes you will need post-remedial dust wipe sampling, and if post-testing fails, then yes you must continue to remediate and post-test to ensure success in remediating the lead paint hazard.

 

Is the inspection inside and exterior?

Only interior portions must be included for all building components. The floor plan below shows the rooms inside a rental unit that would be included in a lead paint risk assessment

 

Lead paint inspections

 

What is a visual inspection and how does a visual inspection determine if lead-based paint is present?

Visual is just as it sounds a visual evaluation of surfaces for deteriorated paint which would be a lead paint hazard. Deteriorated Paint is when it is peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking. Tack and nail holes, small hairline cracks, and other surface imperfections may not be considered deteriorated paint; If you want the full scoop review this website. Section 3.3.3, Visual Inspections, of the Department’s Guidance Document, available online https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/resources/leadpaint.html.

 

Who issues penalties for noncompliance?

New Jersey passed the lead law and has thrown enforcement at the individual municipalities. Part of the thought process behind municipal control is they have a record of what properties in a given town are rental vs owner occupied.

Municipalities can issue penalties against property owners for failure to comply with the requirement of P.L.2021, c.182. The law established municipal authority to issue penalties and could be cited in any violation notice. The Department of Community Affairs also has the authority to issue penalties against municipalities for failure to comply with the law.

 NJ Lead safe law

Can a property owner of a rental unit s appeal the violations to the Construction Board of Appeals?

Because it is not a Uniform Construction Code matter, the violations would not be appealable to the Construction Board of Appeals.

 

Why is the inspection cycle every three years if the lead-free certificate expires in two years?

A lead-safe certification is good for two years no matter what happens with the tenancy.

After two years, property owners have to get a re-inspection if their tenant leaves.

If the tenant doesn’t leave after three years from the date of the certification, the property must be inspected, and a new lead-safe certification will be issued. Then the cycle starts over.

The language of the law requires that the initial inspection must be undertaken by July 22, 2024.

 

In short, you expect a unit to suffer wear and tear, which is the driver for perpetual inspections.

 

If a tenant moves out within 2 years of the issuance of a Lead Safe Certificate, do I need a re-inspection?

No. A lead-safe certification is good for two years no matter what happens with the tenancy. After two years, property owners have to get a re-inspection if their tenant leaves. If the tenant doesn’t leave after three years from the date of the certification, the property must be inspected, and a new lead-safe certification will be issued.

The certification is valid for two years; in that two-year period, dwellings are exempt from tenant turnover inspections.

 

Is there a government fee associated with the lead paint inspection?

There is a $20 fee per unit that the municipality is supposed to charge property owners.   They in turn send the monies to DCA to be used as part of the lead program.   As of November 2022, there isn’t even an account at the State of New Jersey to place these funds, so the program which has good intentions is a work in progress.

 

NJ lead paint inspection fee

 

Who is ultimately responsible for collecting the $20 Fee for the lead hazard control fund, the contractor doing the inspection or the municipality?

The municipality is responsible for collecting this fee and depositing it into the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund. In general, DCA would be expecting to see that each municipality had x # of inspections done, and x ($20) was sent to the fund.

 

Who is responsible for maintaining a record of certification with tenant names?

The municipality is responsible for maintaining a record of lead-safe certifications issued. This information must also be maintained by the landlord, along with tenant information.

 

For a sale of a one- or two-family dwelling, does the lead inspection occur as part of the CCO process for the sale or only if the new owner decides to rent the home out?

New Jersey’s 2022 lead law is not connected to the sale of a property or associated with a CO. There is no inspection requirement for home sales pursuant to the Law.

 

What happens if the landlord states that they want to take care of the inspection on their own, but then don't complete it by the deadline?

The regulations allow for the municipality to prohibit a property owner from hiring a private lead evaluation contractor and instead receive an inspection conducted by the municipality’s lead inspector in situations where the property owner has failed to have an inspection performed.

 

In a duplex, if one unit has a tenant turnover and fails, but the other unit has not yet had a tenant turnover, does it then need to be tested as well?

Yes, P.L.2021, c.182 requires the other unit to be inspected pursuant to Section 1.g(3). The law requires every rental unit built before 1978 to be inspected.

 

Are college suites and college apartments considered exempt under the “seasonal rentals” as the students occupy the dwelling for less than 6 months in the 2022 Fall semester and less than 6 months for the 2023 Spring semester?

The exemption for seasonal rental dwellings contained within P.L.2021, c.182 only covers seasonal rentals which are rented for less than six months in a calendar year. As such, any college apartments or suites which are occupied for more than six months during the year must be inspected pursuant to the Law.

 

Is there registration that keeps track of single- and two-family homes that are rented?

New Jersey does not keep track of these properties. Although municipalities are required to maintain one- and two-unit rental dwelling information pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:29.

 

Can a municipality simply adopt a local ordinance to make the homeowner have the inspection performed by a licensed lead evaluation contractor and then submit it to the municipality?

No. While the Law allows landlords/owners to hire their own lead evaluation contractors, it does not allow the municipality to require such.

 

Can municipalities enforce owners to hire their own evaluator?

No. It must be the owner’s choice.

 

Can a municipality choose to hire a contractor if there is an agency that can perform the inspections?

No, the law requires municipalities that maintain a permanent local agency to perform the inspections. This may include the use of shared services agreements with other municipalities or county agencies.

The Law does not require municipalities to adopt an ordinance for this Law, and the lead-safe certification is available online at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/resources/leadpaint.html.

 

Does the person in the municipality have to be certified in checking the visual inspection?

Yes, the inspector performing visual assessments must complete the HUD visual assessment certification training. Practically speaking there are slim odds municipalities will have staff that are certified for lead risk assessments. Training is 40 hours with 3rd party testing required to obtain a license, it will be a stretch for municipal inspectors to want to have this training and the burden of performing the inspections.

 New Jersey Lead Safe Certificate

Does DCA need a copy of the lead-safe/lead-free certificate for their records, or should the municipality keep those?

Funny that although DCA is behind the rules they are not requiring the paperwork to be sent to them. The municipality must maintain the lead-safe certifications for their records. The DCA can ask for copies of these records should there be a need to examine compliance information throughout municipalities.

 

NJDOH states "Important: In order to perform lead inspections and risk assessment in NJ, certified lead Inspector/Risk Assessors must be employed by a Lead Evaluation Contractor licensed by the NJ Department of Community Affairs." Does this preclude my staff members from conducting the inspection since we need to do dust wipe sampling?

It does not; the NJDOH regulations apply in situations where a child has been confirmed to have an elevated blood lead level. In addition, DCA’s regulations exempt municipal staff from the requirements for licensure within N.J.A.C. 5:17-2.1. In municipalities that must inspect via dust wipe sampling, HUD/EPA Dust Wipe Technician Certification is required for any inspector responsible for performing inspection pursuant to P.L.2021, c.182. 63.

Dust wipe sampling requires HUD/EPA Dust Wipe Technician certification. It is recommended (but not required by the law) that municipalities have a minimum of one staff person be certified as lead inspector/risk assessor, in accordance with Department of Health requirements within N.J.A.C. 8:62.

 

NJ lead safe dust sampling

 Lead Questions? 888-301-1050

 

Can the landlord obtain the appropriate certifications to inspect or assess their own property or are they required to hire an outside firm?

Clearly bias would be present if an owner inspected their own property (even if the owner was a licensed lead inspector) The law does not allow for self-certification. Landlords are allowed to hire a lead evaluation contractor.

 

Does NJDEP, Department of Health or The Department of Community Affairs certifies lead evaluation contractors and remediators (lead abatement)?

The DCA certifies the firms that perform lead evaluation and abatement work, and DOH licenses individual workers, including LI/RAs and lead abatement workers. This is one area where NJDEP does not have involvement unlike oil tanks.

 

When you go to the HUD web site for the visual training there is a note that says, "This course will not qualify you to perform clearance sampling or lead-based risk assessments." Does this training still allow us to perform the visual inspection required by this new law?

Yes, because the inspection required by P.L.2021, c.182, is not a lead inspection/risk assessment and is not a clearance test, the HUD visual assessment training is all that is needed for municipal inspectors to perform visual assessments in accordance with the Law.  Something you must understand the New Jersey lead law presumes lead paint is present in rental unit built before 1978.

NJ lead safe

 

When I am looking to hire someone to perform the lead paint risk assessment, what do I need to know?

Whomever is performing the inspection must either be employed by a permanent local agency or by a lead evaluation contractor licensed by the DCA. Independent dust wipe technicians cannot provide the necessary inspection pursuant to P.L.2021, c.182. Lead Risk Assessors and Lead Based Paint Inspectors in short have more training (40 hours) as opposed to a dust wipe technician, which is a lower tier inspection category with less training.

Is water testing required as part of the law?

This law is only applicable to lead-based paint; it does not take into account other sources of lead exposure.

 

Ok let’s say we have a lead paint hazard and abatement/remediation is required, do we need a permit?

Abatement work requires a Uniform construction Code permit; interim controls do not.

 

Can the owner or landlord implement interim controls before an inspection? Can an owner and landlord do the interim controls themselves and do they need a RRP certification, or do they need to use a licensed contractor?

Landlords and tenants can use lead-safe maintenance practices in between inspections. Information for lead-safe maintenance is available on the Department’s website: https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/publications/pdf_bhi/leadsafe_maint_for_tenants.pdf. Interim controls are only performed as a result of a lead-based paint inspection; RRP certification is not required for individuals performing work in their own unit. Any contractor utilized to perform interim controls would be required to be RRP certified.

 

Since interim controls are short term, what’s the point of implementing interim controls?

Interim controls are often appropriate when the dwelling is structurally sound, and the only issue is deteriorating paint, because this allows for the issue to be addressed without the expense of an abatement. In short interim controls are cheaper.

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Lead Paint Inspections