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Re: He's not just an innocent landlord: he's on the Rent Stab Board!

Posted by Anna on June 20, 1999 at 23:35:48:

In Reply to: New York Daily News on Lead Paint posted by Mark Smith on June 20, 1999 at 20:25:07:

: From the New York Daily News, Sunday, June 20, 1999:

Title should be: "landlord bellyaching because every once in a while the city actually forces landlords to correct violations of building, fire, health & housing codes"

Lead-based paint was banned in NYC in 1960, in the rest of the country in 1978. Unless this guy bought the building before 1960, he should accept this as the cost of doing business. He obviously doesn't care one bit about the dangers to his tenants. In lead, one should err on the side of caution...

If anyone learns the court & case index number, please post it! I really want to read this complaint.

Here's the story & the HUD link for the real story on the dangers of lead:

Landlord in Fight Over Lead
Says city is unfair in issuing violations
By RALPH R. ORTEGA
Daily News Staff Writer

New York landlord is organizing a legal
challenge to the technology that the city
Health Department uses to identify lead-paint
hazards at apartment buildings.

In what is shaping up as the next skirmish in the
decades-long battle over lead paint, landlord
Michael Laub said he is aiming to enlist an army
of building owners for a class-action lawsuit
against the city.

Laub charged that the Health Department issues
violations in error and then arbitrarily denies
challenges to them.

"Right now the Health Department isn't being fair. I
don't know why they're being this way. Maybe
they're just trying to bust our chops," said Laub,
president of the Bronx Realty Advisory Board and
the Rent Stabilization Board of New York.
Charles Rock, Laub's attorney, said landlords at
times must pay for costly, unnecessary lead
cleanups and can face personal-injury lawsuits
from their tenants.

The Health Department declined to comment, but
tenant and children's advocates were not
sympathetic.

"I say to the landlords, 'Make sure you don't have
any lead in your buildings, and then you won't
have to deal with the Department of Health,' " said
Megan Charlop, director of Montefiore Medical
Center's lead poisoning prevention program in
Norwood.

Lead-paint issues have been a landlord-tenant
battleground in New York for decades. City
regulations for combating lead-paint hazards have
been tied up in litigation since the 1980s.

City officials want to reform those rules, but the
task hasn't been easy. City Council Speaker Peter
Vallone (D-Queens) two weeks ago received an
earful from tenant advocates who accused him of
preparing legislation that would take the teeth out
of existing regulations.

A bill establishing new rules for landlords, tenants
and city regulators could go to a vote before the
full Council by the end of the month.

In addition to enforcement, the Health Department
has an aggressive education program warning
families against the dangers of lead exposure.
The agency this week hosted a workshop for
parents at The New York and Presbyterian
Hospital's women, infants and children program
center in the Bronx.

Lead, which is no longer added to paint, is
believed to be in paint used in apartments and
homes built before 1960.

Children in such residences often ingest paint
chips and breathe in dust, exposing themselves to
health and other developmental problems. Lead
poisoning eventually can result in seizures, comas
and, in rare cases, death.

Parents like Lenetha Myrick, a mother of four
living in Marble Hill, agreed.

Myrick, 34, who said her 10-year-old son,
Jermaine, was lead-poisoned in a South Bronx
apartment, said the city must stay tough,
especially with the landlords of contaminated
properties.

"If they don't want to clean them up, then the city
should come down on them hard," she said.

Rock, however, has serious questions over how
well the city does its job.

"In the beginning of 1997, the Health Department
bought this equipment and decided it was
infallible," he said. "And since that point in time, no
landlord has succeeded in challenging a
Department of Health violation. For reasons
undisclosed, they are denied."

Rock referred to X-ray fluorescence analyzers,
so-called XRF. City inspectors use XRF guns to
measure lead in paint without having to chip it.

"It's relatively accurate and gives inspectors
results immediately," said John Gadd, a Health
Department spokesman.

Rock said the city relies on the technology simply
because it is faster, and cheaper, to use. The
accuracy can be disputed, he said.

For example, Laub's suit details how the city found
three lead violations in one of his apartment
buildings on Morris Ave. in February. That same
month, Laub brought in his own testing company,
Brooklyn-based Lead Investigation, to
double-check the city's findings.

Chipped paint was used for the analysis, Rock
said.

Two of the samples tested negative for dangerous
lead levels, according to a sworn affidavit made
by Jack Jaffa, vice president of Lead
Investigation.

The third was confirmed to be lead-based paint,
Jaffa said in the affidavit.

Rock insisted the discrepancies were valid
enough to contest the first two violations. But
Jaffa's test results, according to a form letter from
the Health Department's contested violations unit,
were "insufficient," and nothing more was done.

Some lead inspectors say landlords prefer paint
chip testing because it can be altered. "There's an
old saying, 'dilution is the solution,' " said Michael
Rosen, a private lead inspector from Crotona, the
Bronx.

Rosen said paint chip samples may contain other
materials, but XRF readings pick up only lead.

But he said he's also known the Health
Department to make mistakes.

"They're human," he said. "Unfortunately, it's
costing the landlords money.

Laub recalled spending $15,000 to fix 86 lead
violations he was cited for in one of his
apartments in the Mosholu Parkway area of the
Bronx. He said his testing company negated all
86.

But Laub said the case also was disregarded by
the Health Department, leaving him stuck with the
bill.

"I just want the ability to contest these violations,"
he said. "And if I'm right? I'm right. All I want is
fairness."


Original Publication Date: 06/20/1999


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