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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General’s “Landlord Restoration Program” Pilot Concludes; Lead Law Compliance Increases

July 31, 2019

Contact: Christopher Curtis, Public Protection Chief, (802) 828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced the results of the “Landlord Restoration Program,” which helped landlords restore lead paint conditions in rental housing to further reduce childhood exposure to lead poisoning. The Program, launched in 2017 by the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health, provided: (i) information and resources to landlords, (ii) extended time for repairs, and (iii) a waiver of state enforcement for past non-compliance. The Program was piloted in five Vermont towns that had elevated blood lead levels in children: Rutland, Bennington, Bellows Falls/Windsor, Barre, and St. Albans. Compliance rates suggest that the pilot program was effective in increasing property owner compliance. Compliance rates went up by an average of 14%, with several towns seeing around 20% increases. Currently, only around 7,000 of Vermont’s 30,000 estimated rental properties have lead paint compliance statements on file. The Attorney General’s Office will continue to host Landlord Restoration events throughout the state on an ongoing basis.

“This was a great success. With outreach and education, coupled with enforcement when necessary, we can improve safe housing conditions for tenants and children,” said Attorney General Donovan. “We had broad support from many partners to make this a successful effort and I want to extend my thanks to those partners.”

The Department of Health, which is responsible for overseeing landlord compliance, collaborated with the Attorney General’s Office on the pilot. “Reducing the risk of childhood lead poisoning is among our top public health priorities,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “By bringing their housing into compliance with Essential Maintenance Practices, property owners are helping to mitigate the risk of potential lead poisoning.” More information on Essential Maintenance Practices can be found here.

A major source of lead poisoning in Vermont children is from paint used before 1978, something often found in Vermont’s older housing stock. Lead exposure poses a special risk to children because they absorb lead into their systems more easily than adults do. Lead can slow down a child’s growth, impair development and learning, and can cause behavior problems. “There is no safe level of lead in the human body,” said Dr. Levine.

A copy of the complete report on the Landlord Restoration Program can be found here and a detailed presentation with Q&A will be held at Burlington City Hall, Contois Auditorium, at 5:00pm on Wednesday July 31.  All are welcome.

For more information, visit: https://www.uvm.edu/consumer/information-vermonts-lead-law-and-landlord-restoration-program.  To learn more about what you can do to prevent lead poisoning, visit healthvermont.gov/lead.

Last modified: July 31, 2019