New Hampshire Lead Laws: What SB247 means for Residential Property Owners
With Senate Bill 247 there have been some big changes to lead laws in New Hampshire. So, what does this mean for the residential property owner? Below is a summary of the changes that specifically affect residential property owners:
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) investigates lead poisonings. When a child’s blood lead levels (BLL) test higher than the legal threshold of 10 mcg/dL, the DHHS will investigate the child’s residence. If the property tests positive for lead hazards, a lead order will be issued requiring the property owner to abate the lead hazards. Effective July 1, 2019, a DHHS property investigation will now be conducted if a child’s BLL result is over 7.5 mcg/dL. Effective July 1, 2021 the BLL threshold will drop to 5 mcg/dL.
The BLL that triggers a property investigation has been lowered. Property owners that are not taking preventive measures should expect to see more property investigations, poisoned children, and lead orders. However, before SB247 a BLL result triggering a DHHS property investigation would also allow DHHS to inspect all units on the property. With SB247 DHHS will only inspect other units on the property that are occupied by a child or pregnant woman.
Healthcare providers are now required to offer BLL tests for all children two years or younger. However, parents may opt out of BLL testing.
Previously, BLL tests were offered at the doctors’ discretion or parents’ request. With the new law more children are being tested. This means it is more likely that elevated lead levels in children will be identified and a DHHS investigation will be triggered. It is important that property owners make sure their units are safe from lead hazards to not only protect their tenants, but to prevent a pricey lead order.
Starting July 1, 2019, the Blood Lead Level (BLL) results requiring parental and property owner notification have also been lowered from 5 mcg/dL to 3 mcg/dL.
If a child’s BLL results come back over 3 mcg/dL and under 7.5 mcg/dL the property owner will be given a notification, along with information about identifying and eliminating lead hazards. This notification is not a lead order, so no big deal right? Wrong! This is an opportunity for the owner to start addressing lead hazards before a child is poisoned and a pricey lead abatement project is mandated. Even if lead reduction renovations are not in the budget, the property owner can still conduct interim controls, such as special cleanings to the unit to reduce lead dust. This is also an opportunity to educate tenants on healthy practices that reduce the chances of lead poisoning or exposure.
Starting July 1, 2024 all newly converted rental units built before 1978 must have a lead safe certification.
This change is important for property investors that may need to add this to their budget when creating new rental units.
SB247 states that State guaranteed loans will be available to help cover costs of remediation.
As of yet, these State guaranteed loans have not become available and there is little information on when property owners can start applying for these. We recommend that property owners don’t wait for the possibility of these loans and instead start budgeting for lead hazard reduction or look into local grant programs.
An owner can reduce lead hazards on their properties before a child is poisoned. By being proactive, an owner can not only avoid poisonings, but also DHHS investigations and lead orders. It pays to do the right thing.
For more information on SB247, check out the SB247 Quick Guide at https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/clpp/documents/sb247quickguide.pdf