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Burlington Landlords Asked To Demonstrate Compliance With Vermont Lead In Housing Law

CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

December 19, 2011

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office has recently mailed letters to 27 Burlington landlords requesting that they demonstrate compliance with the Vermont lead in housing law at their properties. The landlords have been given 90 days to respond to his office.

“This most recent mailing continues the efforts of my office around the state to reach out to landlords in order to bring more rental properties into compliance with the law,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Rental properties need to be safe. Through these letters, we are asking landlords to work with us in making that goal a reality.”

Approximately 80% of Vermont’s rental housing units were built prior to 1978, when lead based paint was banned. Two out of every three lead poisoned children live in pre-1978 rental housing.

Over the past three years, the Attorney General’s Office has sent letters to Vermont landlords on a county-by-county basis. The letters ask that landlords demonstrate compliance with Vermont’s lead in housing law or take 90 days to bring the properties into compliance and make the appropriate filings with the State. Landlords who believe they have received the letter in error can explain why the property may be exempt from the law, for example, properties that were constructed after 1978 are not covered by the lead in housing law.

The 90 day mailings are intended to allow landlords a chance to bring their properties into compliance without the need for enforcement action. Since the fall of 2007, the Attorney General’s Office has collected $192,500 in civil penalties against Vermont landlords. Additionally, close to $400,000 in lead hazard reduction work has been agreed to by landlords in connection with enforcement actions by the Attorney General. “We continue to see improvement in lead law compliance,” Attorney General Sorrell continued. “But we still have room for more. Even landlords who did not receive a letter in this mailing should take this opportunity to review the compliance status of any pre-1978 rental properties they own.”

The Attorney General also announced a settlement with former Burlington landlords Gaetan and Mary Jane Marchessault for the filing of a false lead law compliance document in April 2010. The Marchessaults no longer own the rental property in question.

Landlords in Winooski (and Burlington) can contact the Burlington Lead Program at 802-865-LEAD (5323) or visit the website of the City of Burlington Community and Economic Development Office’s Housing Division at http://www.burlingtonvt.gov/CEDO/Housing/Housing for more information and assistance with the Vermont lead law.

For information concerning Vermont’s lead in housing law, the duties of owners, managers, and sellers of pre-1978 housing, and for copies of court documents from recent enforcement actions involving lead, see the Attorney General’s website at: http://www.atg.state.vt.us and click on “Lead.”

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.