Navigating the New Lead Law in Rhode Island: A Comprehensive Guide for Landlords

Rhode Island has introduced new lead laws, bringing significant changes for landlords and real estate investors. To enhance tenant safety and minimize lead exposure, these laws mandate strict compliance and introduce a series of steps for property certification. This blog post delves into the essentials of Rhode Island’s new lead laws, offering landlords and investors the knowledge needed to navigate these changes successfully.

For more detailed information on each aspect of the new lead laws, including how to find out about a lead certificate and how to become lead compliant, landlords are encouraged to watch the full video by Inside Stonelink on YouTube. It’s an invaluable resource for anyone navigating the complexities of these legislative changes successfully.

Understanding the New Lead Paint Laws in Rhode Island

While you may think that these laws are new, they are not. The Lead Poisoning Prevention Act was passed in 2022 and other lead paint laws were passed back in 2005 but never correctly enforced. The new legislation recently passed gives power to every municipality in Rhode Island to ensure that these laws are enforced.  

Click here to watch Justin and Sharon unpack the latest lead regulations.

The new legislation focuses on ensuring properties are safe from any lead hazards, a move prompted by the health risks associated with lead exposure. 

Non-compliance with these laws can result in monthly fines. As a real estate investor, it’s important to pay attention to updates and new laws, not only to protect yourself financially, but to protect the health and safety of the residents living in your properties. 

Here are the key components of the law:

  • Statewide Rental Registry: A new requirement for landlords to register their properties, aimed at facilitating the monitoring and enforcement of lead safety standards. All landlords in Rhode Island need to register their rental units by October 1st, 2024. Check out the part of the video where Justin and Sharon explain the new registry laws.
  • Lead Conformance Certificate: Properties built before 1978 must obtain this certificate, indicating compliance with safety standards. Property owners will be required to submit their certificates through the statewide rental registry. 
  • Escrow Account Bill: Introduces financial obligations for landlords to set aside funds for lead safety compliance. It also means that tenants who live in a unit that is non-compliant with lead laws may be able to petition the court to pay their rent into an escrow account. Learn more from our video here.
  • Updated Eviction Laws: Non-compliance with lead safety standards can now lead to updated eviction procedures.
  • Removal of Exemption: The law removes previous exemptions for 2-3 multifamily owner-occupied units, extending the lead safety requirements to these properties as well.

Deadlines and Penalties

If an owner of an investment property fails to provide the information to register by the September 1, 2024, deadline, there is a $50.00 fine per month. 

If an owner fails to obtain a lead certificate by the October 1, 2024, deadline, there is a minimum $125.00 fine per month. 

The Attorney General may file for injunctive relief for anyone who fails to register properties, the penalty for which is $50.00 per unit failure.  If the AG determines that this is a repeated failure by a landlord/owner to obtain a lead certificate, they can issue a $1000.00 fine per violation. Learn more about potential penalties in this section of the video.

Step-by-Step Guide in Order to Comply with New Lead Paint Laws

  1. Lead Inspection: The first step to comply with the RI Department of Health and Safety is getting your property inspected by a licensed lead inspector to identify any lead hazards. A licensed lead inspector will check interior and exterior walls and will pay special attention to peeling or chipped paint. To prepare, check out our lead safety pre-inspection checklist and this list of inspectors from the State of Rhode Island Department of Health.
  2. Certification Process: If your property passes the inspection, you can apply for the Lead Conformance Certificate. This certificate is crucial for proving compliance and avoiding potential legal and financial penalties. Remember, you have to submit this certificate to the statewide rental registry. You can click here to jump to the section of the video where Justin and Sharon break down getting your certificate.
  3. Financial Assistance: Understanding the financial implications is key. The Escrow Account Bill requires landlords to raise funds for lead hazard mitigation. However, there are funds available to assist landlords in meeting these requirements. Justin and Sharon break down financial assistance options here.

Practical Tips for Landlords

  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of the latest regulations and requirements by visiting official Rhode Island government and property management websites.
  • Seek Professional Help: In addition to working with a licensed lead inspector to check on your property, consider hiring a property management company like Stonelink, which specializes in navigating the complexities of Rhode Island’s real estate regulations.
  • Invest in Safety: Prioritizing lead safety not only complies with the law but also enhances the value of your property and the well-being of your tenants.

Conclusion

The new lead laws in Rhode Island represent a significant shift in how landlords must manage their properties. By understanding these laws, taking proactive steps to comply, and utilizing available resources, landlords can ensure their investments remain profitable and safe for tenants.

For more detailed information on each aspect of the new lead laws, including how to find out about a lead certificate and how to become lead compliant, landlords are encouraged to watch the full video by Inside Stonelink on YouTube. It’s an invaluable resource for anyone navigating the complexities of these legislative changes successfully.

Contact the Stonelink Property Management team if you have questions about these new laws or want help making sure you comply.

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