HUD, EPA AND U.S. ATTORNEY IN MINNESOTA ANNOUNCE LEGAL SETTLEMENT WITH MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL LANDLORDS

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota today announced a legal settlement with nine Minneapolis-St. Paul area property owners and one property management company. The government alleges these landlords failed to inform tenants that their homes might contain potentially dangerous levels of lead in violation of the federal disclosure rules.

This settlement will result in the complete elimination of all lead-based paint hazards in 179 apartments in the Minneapolis and St. Paul region, with those units containing children six years of age or under or pregnant women being completed first. Two properties, containing 113 units, tested under this settlement were found to be free of any lead-based paint (see attached list).

In addition to paying substantial funds to make these rental units lead-safe, the landlords will pay a civil fine of $7,500 for violating the federal disclosure law and will spend another $50,000 working on a Child Health Improvement Project (CHIP) to replace windows in at least 35 low- and very-low income, owner-occupied homes with children under age six in the Thomasdale, Rice Street, and Lower East Side of St. Paul. The landlords will also notify tenants of lead hazards immediately and comply with the Lead Disclosure Rule in the future.

“This agreement is another important step toward eliminating childhood lead poisoning by reminding all landlords that they have a responsibility to disclose possible lead hazards to their tenants,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi. “Working closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis and our partners at the EPA, HUD can be a force to end this completely preventable disease.”

“EPA has the ambitious goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning by 2010,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Mary A. Gade. “Today’s agreement brings that goal closer to reality for the children of Minnesota.”

The settlement announced today is the seventh such agreement in Minnesota that requires landlords to eliminate all lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in their rental units. As a result of these agreements, more than 5,000 rental units in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including some units in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Indiana, will be made lead-safe for tenants. Moreover, the landlords involved in these seven settlements will have spent nearly $4 million to make their rental units lead-safe, paid civil fines of $44,500 and provided $220,000 for local CHIP projects, including funding a mobile lead poisoning screening vehicle called the “Leadie Eddie Van.” The “Leadie Eddie Van” is now fully equipped and being used to screen children for lead poisoning throughout Minnesota.

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