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October 22, 2010
Donna Shirey
CGR, CAPS, CGP

NAHB Remodelers Chair
Issaquah, Wash. 
ReNews
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Lead Rule News
Lead Rule Violations Can Result in Fines of $37,500 a Day

With penalties ranging from as little as $130 to as much as $37,500 per violation, per day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s schedule of fines for violating the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule demonstrate that the federal government is serious about its intentions regarding enforcement.

Under the rule, remodelers, window installers, painters and other contractors working in homes built before 1978 are required to use federally mandated work practices and fulfill other requirements, including training and certification, if they “disturb” more than 6 square feet of painted surfaces inside or 20 square feet on the exterior of the home.

To help NAHB members better understand the EPA’s enforcement procedures, NAHB has compiled several enforcement facts about complaints and penalty calculations under the rule.

Complaints Can Trigger Four EPA Actions

All complaints will be referred to the EPA’s regional offices for investigation. If the regional office determines that a violation has taken place, the EPA can follow one of four proceedures:

  • Notice of Noncompliance. This action does not result in a fine and may be issued to first-time violators or in cases where contractors have substantially followed the regulation. The notice may require corrective action from the contractor and proof of the change.

  • Civil Administrative Complaint. The complaint usually includes a penalty that is determined according to the severity of the charges. In this action, the EPA sends written notice to the contractor, who has 15 days to request a hearing to respond to the complaint.

  • Civil Judicial Referral. In this action, the EPA seeks relief in U.S. District Court to order the violator to comply.

  • Criminal Proceedings. In this action, if the EPA has reason to believe that the violator knowingly violated the regulation, criminal charges may be filed.

Key Factors Governing Penalty Calculations

The EPA can consider many factors when assessing a fine for violating the lead rule. These can include:

  • The number of rule violations by the contractor.

  • The economic benefit, or how much the contractor profited by non-compliance with the regulation, and their ability to pay the fine.

  • The nature and circumstances of the violation, plus any harm caused by non-compliance. This can also include consideration of the violator’s ability to pay the fine and remain in business, a history of prior violations and the degree of contractor responsibility.

  • The attitude of violators — whether they are taking steps to comply with the rule and cooperate with the EPA, or not.

How Penalties Can Escalate

If a contractor fails to maintain the required records in a home with no children as occupants, the fine may be as small as $130.

The fine increases accordingly if children and/or pregnant women reside at the property.

In addition, failure to conduct pre-renovation education and distribute the Renovate Right pamphlet to residents or post signage at the job site carries heavier fines.

Download the EPA’s Enforcement Guidance

To download the EPA’s enforcement guidance document, click here.

For more information on the rule, available from NAHB, visit www.nahb.org/leadpaint; or e-mail Matt Watkins, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8327.

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