New Jersey towns may be required to inspect for lead paint hazards in some rentals

If a measure approved by a Senate committee becomes law, New Jersey towns would have to inspect one-and-two-family rental homes for lead-paint hazards.


Ann Vardeman with New Jersey Citizen Action said it’s tragic that thousands of children in New Jersey continue to be exposed to lead because the state Department of Community Affairs says staff shortages mean it can’t do the inspections required by law.

“What we’re doing — instead of inspecting single- and two-family rental units for lead — is we’re using our children as human lead detectors,” she testified before a Senate panel. “The way we find out if there is lead in a one- or two-family rental unit is because a child is lead poisoned.”

But towns have some concerns about transferring responsibility for those inspections to local governments, said Michael Cerra with the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

“It’s not the first time that a state requirement, a well-intended state requirement, has been pushed upon local governments,” he said. “And when local governments are operating under a 2 percent levy cap, some tough budget choices may need to be made.”

The legislation would impose a fee on landlords to pay for towns to do the inspections.

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