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Attorney General Settles Lead Law Claim Against Burlington Landlord

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

January 26, 2009 - A Burlington-area landlord agreed to make payments and improvements to its properties totaling at least $90,900.00 as a part of a settlement with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office for violations of Vermont’s lead and consumer fraud laws, Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today. Sisters and Brothers Investment Group, LLP, agreed, in addition to performing all maintenance that the law requires, to spend $68,900 in lead hazard reduction improvements at its properties and to pay the State of Vermont at least $22,000 in civil penalties for filing false compliance documents in connection with the State’s enforcement action.

“The State takes the filing of compliance statements seriously,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “If a landlord files an inaccurate statement with the State, the property remains in violation of the law and the landlord or property manager will face additional consequences.”

Lead-based paint in housing is the primary cause of childhood lead poisoning, which can cause adverse health effects including decreases in IQ. Vermont’s lead law requires that essential maintenance practices (known as EMPs) be performed in all pre-1978 rental housing. Annually, an EMP Compliance Statement certifying completion of EMPs must be submitted to the Department of Health, to the owner’s insurance carrier, and to all tenants of the property.

Twenty-two rental properties owned by Sisters and Brothers Investment Group, LLP, are covered by the settlement agreement with the Attorney General’s Office. In addition to the improvements and penalties, Sisters and Brothers Investment Group, LLP will complete needed interior EMP work at the properties within thirty days of an independent inspection. Any needed exterior maintenance must be completed by May 31, 2009.

This settlement follows the recent announcement by the Attorney General’s Office of a joint initiative with the Burlington Lead Program where landlords are being asked to demonstrate compliance with Vermont’s lead law within 90 days of receiving an individual letter. In early January, the Attorney General’s Office mailed letters to some of the largest landlords in Burlington requesting information by April on any rental properties built before 1978 and the record of compliance for each. Additional mailings to Burlington landlords are planned on a regular basis in the coming months. The Burlington Lead Program at (802)-865-LEAD (5323) may be able to provide technical and financial support to landlords with low-income tenants.

For copies of the court documents in this case and recent enforcement actions involving lead, as well as other information concerning the duties of owners and managers of pre-1978 rental housing, see the Attorney General’s website at: www.atg.state.vt.us and click on “Lead.”

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.