Legal Updates

Date: 7/27/2010

As of April 22, 2010, new statutes and regulations promulgated by the EPA, Oregon Department of Health, and the Construction Contractors Board targeted at reducing the hazards from lead based paint exposure became effective. Under these new rules, with limited exceptions, all firms and individuals performing renovations, repairs, or painting for compensation on housing or child-occupied facilities built before 1978—including landlords and property management firms—need to comply with the new rules. These new rules bring about some significant changes in the law with potentially severe civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance.

These rules apply many of the same strict guidelines previously in place for contractors performing residential lead-based paint abatement or removal to performing general renovation work. The new federal rules include education and training, certification, work practice and recordkeeping requirements. Both firms and individuals directing or performing renovation work must be separately certified. In addition, there are numerous new work practice and recordkeeping requirements that contractors must comply with. Among the more significant of these are strict clean up, waste material containment, and cleaning verification requirements.

It is also important to note that Oregon is one of nine states authorized by the EPA to administer its own renovation, repair and painting program. While the Oregon rules—jointly administered by the Department of Human Services and the Construction Contractors Board—largely mirror the federal rules, there are certain differences. For example, the Oregon rules currently contain an "opt-out" provision, exempting renovation firms from complying with the new training and work practice requirements where the firm obtains a signed statement from a property owner that 1) all work will take place in the owner's residence, 2) no children under six or pregnant woman reside there, 3) the home is not a child-occupied facility, and 4) the owner acknowledges that the renovation firm will not be required to comply with the rule's work practice requirements. A similar "opt-out" provision was removed from the federal rules on July 6, 2010.

It is critical that both owners and contractors are aware of these new rules and bear in mind that there are many exceptions and complexities in both the new federal and Oregon schemes. For these reasons, we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about compliance with these or other potentially applicable legal requirements.

Jan D. Sokol