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Attorney General Settles With Montpelier Landlord For Violations Of Lead Law

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

September 25, 2008 - Landlords who rent to Vermonters must follow Vermont's lead law or run the risk of being sued. Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office settled a Consumer Fraud Act claim against Montpelier landlord Jeffrey Jacobs for failure to maintain twelve residential rental properties in accordance with the Vermont lead laws.

The Attorney General’s Office has provided free training, posted information and links on the office website, and publicized all settlements of cases involving violations of Vermont's lead laws in order to alert landlords, property management companies, and tenants to their rights and obligations. "Our goal is for greater compliance with fewer enforcement actions," said Attorney General Sorrell, "but we have a long way to go."

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 needs to be submitted to the Department of Health, to the owner’s insurance carrier and, since July 1, 2008, to all tenants of the property.

“Tenants, especially those with young children, need to know their risks and the obligations of their landlords,” said Attorney General Sorrell. Vermont law now requires that owners of a pre-1978 rental property provide the EMP Compliance Statement and other written materials on the hazards of lead paint to tenants each year.

Under the terms of the Consent Decree signed by the court this week, Jacobs will promptly complete all EMPs in the interior of buildings occupied by children ages six or under, and then, according to a schedule, complete EMPs on the interiors and exteriors of all of his residential rental properties. Jacobs has agreed to fully and timely comply with the Lead Law on all pre-1978 residential rental housing in which he has or acquires an ownership interest or provides property management services. The Office of the Attorney General imposed a $12,000.00 civil penalty.

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

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.