1. What Must Be Deleaded
Deleading is the work that involves removing or covering the lead hazards in your apartment. Not all lead paint must be deleaded. For instance, the paint on a flat wall does not have to be deleaded, but all the paint on the wall must be made intact; it cannot be cracked, chipped, or peeling.
The following surfaces must be deleaded, even if the paint on them is intact:
- Surfaces below 5 feet that can be mouthed by a child. These could include (but are not limited to) wall corners, doors, stairs, railings, windows, baseboards, and chair rails; and
- Parts of windows (with sills below 5 feet) that move or touch moving parts, including window sashes, wells, and sills.27
Deleading also includes such things as:
- Replacing windows, doors, cabinets and woodwork;
- Scraping or covering old paint;
- Repainting with non-lead-based paint after removal of lead-based paint; and
- Encapsulation with approved materials.
An encapsulant is a liquid coating product that will act as a long-lasting and resilient covering over lead paint.28 Regular paint is not an encapsulant and cannot be used to cover or paint over old lead paint.29 Encapsulant paint must say that it is a lead paint encapsulant on the label.
The lead hazards in your apartment or common areas of the building that must be made safe will be listed on the lead inspection report from the licensed lead inspector or the licensed deleader hired by the landlord. The landlord is required to give you and other tenants a copy of that report before she begins any deleading work anywhere in the building.30
2. Required Deleading Process
Once lead hazards have been identified, the property owner must remove or cover them. A landlord has two choices as to how to do this:31
- A landlord can have all lead hazards removed or covered. The owner must first hire a licensed lead inspector who will test the home for lead and record all lead hazards. After the work to be done is properly completed and approved by the agency that issued the order to delead and the building passes a re-inspection by a licensed lead inspector, the owner will receive a Letter of Full Compliance from the inspector.32 This letter states that the apartment and all common areas have been properly deleaded and are now in compliance with the requirements of the lead law and the Sanitary Code.
- A landlord can have only urgent lead hazards corrected, while controlling the remaining hazards. This temporary method is called "interim control." The owner must first hire a licensed risk assessor, who will explain what work needs to be done for interim control.33 After the work is approved and properly completed and the building passes a re-inspection by a licensed lead inspector, the owner will receive a Letter of Interim Control. She will then have up to 2 years before she must have the remaining lead hazards removed or covered in order to receive a Letter of Full Compliance.34
Surfaces from which lead paint or other coatings have been removed must be repainted in order to comply with the state Sanitary Code.35 Deleaded surfaces can be repainted only after the surfaces have been reinspected while bare and approved by a licensed lead inspector. You should notify the landlord in writing if the required repainting is not done after all of the deleading work has been completed and approved. If the landlord does not respond, you should call the agency that issued the original order to delead.
Depending on a number of factors, the deleading work and the documentation of it can take between 2-6 months to complete.
3. Who Does the Deleading
A property owner cannot do any deleading work by himself unless:
- The home has been fully inspected by a licensed lead inspector;
- The landlord or his agent has been specifically trained to do low-risk (removing doors and cabinet doors from hinges, putting up vinyl siding, covering painted surfaces, capping baseboards, applying encapsulants) or moderate-risk (removing windows, woodwork, and other surfaces, and repairing or repainting small amounts of lead paint) deleading work;
- The owner or his agent has received an authorization number from CLPPP to do low-risk or moderate-risk deleading work; and
- The owner or his agent has notified all parties in writing (including all occupants of the building) at least 10 days in advance of when the deleading work will begin and approximately how long the work will take.
All high-risk deleading work (scraping paint, demolition, using chemical paint strippers, making large amounts of loose lead paint intact) must be done by a trained and licensed deleader. You can search for licensed lead deleaders on the CLPPP website or you can call CLPPP at 800-532-9571.
It is very important to remember that deleading a property does not mean that all lead has been removed. The law requires only that a landlord remove, repair, or cover cracked, chipped, peeling, or loose lead paint and that he remove or cover intact lead paint on surfaces that are easily accessible to young children.36 But even after deleading has been completed, intact paint will, at some point, begin to chip, crack, and peel (especially in older properties), creating dangerous conditions for young children once again. If this happens, you should immediately notify your landlord, CLPPP, and your local Board of Health, in writing, and ask that your property be re-inspected and that the dangerous conditions be repaired.
If you think that your landlord is having deleading work done by unlicensed or untrained workers, you should immediately report this to your local Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Board of Health, or CLPPP, which can take action against the landlord. For more information about what work may be done by a property owner herself or her agent and what work must be done by a licensed deleader or a "lead-safe" renovator (which is someone who is licensed to do only some limited types of deleading work), call CLPPP at 800-532-9571.
Depending on a number of different factors, including whether or not your child has been lead poisoned, what lead hazards are found, what deleading work is required, and whether or not the landlord needs financial assistance to complete the required deleading work, the landlord must complete all deleading work within 60-120 days after receiving an Order to Correct Violations from CLPPP or your local Board of Health.37
33 . A risk assessor is a specialized lead inspector who conducts a risk assessment, which is “the procedure for determining and reporting the existence, extent and location of urgent lead hazards in residential premises or dwelling units, and prescribing required measures to be taken for proper interim control.” 105 C.M.R. §460.020.
34 . 105 C.M.R. §460.105(D)-(F). The Letter of Interim Compliance is valid for twelve months, during which time the owner must either fully correction the violation to receive a letter of Full Compliance, or pass another risk assessment that will be valid for an additional twelve months.