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Attorney General Settles A Consumer Fraud Act Claim Against A Property Management Firm Over Lead Paint Maintenance Violations

CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5506

June 2, 2008 - Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office settled a Consumer Fraud Act claim concerning a Montpelier rental property management company’s failure to maintain its clients’ properties in compliance with Vermont’s lead paint law.

"It is time for property management companies to step up and make sure their properties are in compliance with Vermont law. This is not the first time our office has had to take action against a property management company, but we hope it is the last," said Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

Lead-based paint in housing is the primary cause of childhood lead poisoning, which can result in adverse health effects, including decreases in IQ. Vermont’s lead poisoning law requires that essential maintenance practices (known as EMPs) be performed in all pre-1978 rental housing Effective July 1, new provisions will go into place to further protect all children in pre-1978 housing.

Under the terms of the Assurance of Discontinuance, no later than July 1, 2008, Black Ink Property Management, LLC (“Black Ink”), will perform EMPs in buildings currently occupied by one or more children ages six or under. Black Ink will perform EMPs on the interior of other properties it manages by October 1, 2008 and EMPs for exteriors will be complete no later than October 15, 2008. Going forward, Black Ink will ensure that any additional pre-1978 rentals covered by a maintenance services contract will be EMP-compliant with 30 days of the contract (for occupied units) or prior to occupancy. The Office of the Vermont Attorney General imposed a $5,000 civil penalty.

The Attorney General is sponsoring a free workshop for landlords and property managers on June 12. “Our goal is for Vermont to be as lead-safe as possible,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Hopefully, we won’t need to take action to enforce the law, but we stand ready to do so to protect Vermont children.”

For links to more information regarding the free workshop, the legal obligations of pre-1978 rental owners, and recent cases involving lead, see the Attorney General’s website at: http://www.atg.state.vt.us.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.