Being a real estate investor in New Jersey has many benefits. But there are some big changes to NJ real estate law regarding lead-paint remediation which will directly affect landlords over the next decades. If you are looking to invest in the State or already have investment properties – it is imperative to be aware of this information if and as you move forward with property purchase/s and maintenance.
Last summer Governor Phil Murphy signed into law S-1147, referred to as, New Jersey’s Lead Safe Certification, as a measure intended to protect the children of the state from lead contamination. Lead paint, banned in 1977, is still an issue for over 1 million homes in New Jersey that were built beforehand and is especially concentrated in several lower-income, urban communities – disproportionately affecting children in those areas.
This is a key point for anyone who has or is planning to update or upgrade a property. According to Terry Darling, an NJ Home Inspector and owner of HomeSafe Inspections & Appraisals, “Each time a home is renovated dust is an issue. Even small amounts of lead-contaminated dust can contaminate a room.”
While the law was first introduced in 2003, NJ Realtors® has been working with lawmakers to mitigate a detrimental impact on the housing market. However, the law, as it stands went into effect July 22, 2022, and has several key points to be aware of:
According to NJ Realtors® Magazine July/Aug 2022 edition, the following is a guide to the new law:
- One and two-family residential rental homes were built before 1978.
- Rental properties which are affected must be inspected at tenant turnover OR
Within two years if there is no tenant turnover – no later than July 22, 2024, and every three years thereafter.
- Inspection types will depend on the municipality in which the property is located but are determined by lead levels in the children who reside in that Town, City, or otherwise.
Requirements for Remediation:
- If lead is found at a property during an inspection, there will need to be remediation (within a limited time period) to make the property lead safe or lead-free.
- “Lead-free” means that measures have been taken to eliminate lead paint and no future inspections will be required.
- “Lead safe” will mean temporary measures have taken place to remove, reduce or minimize exposure to lead paint but future inspections will likely be required.
Exempt from the law:
- Homes were built during or after 1978.
- One and two-family seasonal rentals or those rented for less than six months.
- Dwellings are already certified to be free of lead paint.
Does this spell trouble for landlords and long-term rental property owners? Darling says if they familiarize themselves with the new law, this will become part and parcel of rental property ownership. “This new law is easy to navigate for landlords and property managers once they know what is required and how to keep properties in compliance.”
According to the law, each individual municipality will be responsible for enacting the law although that does not mean they will be paying for the inspections or even have the resources to hire inspectors specifically for the purpose of lead paint compliance. They may have specific recommendations or property owners will have to find a specialist to carry out the inspections. Darling says the way to assure compliance is to be sure the firm landlords hire is an EPA Certified Lead Safe Firm and anyone performing the testing is a certified Lead Dust Sampling Technician.”
There are bound to be growing pains from the law’s roll-out so it is advisable you consult the law and State departments that are responsible for enactment (source sites found below). But Darling further notes there is merit to this no matter the potential challenges, “With the implementation of this law, New Jersey is taking the lead in protecting tenants and families from the very real hazards of lead dust contamination.”