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Toledo council approves amendment to lead law

Compliance deadline for landlords extended; dust-wipe requirement stays

  • lead18p

    A lead hazard sign is posted on a home on Putnam Street in Toledo. Toledo City Council has voted 10-1 to approve an amendment to the city’s “lead-safe” rental property law that extends compliance deadlines, but keeps a controversial dust-wipe requirement for home inspections.

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Toledo City Council on Tuesday approved an amendment to the city’s “lead-safe” rental property law that extends compliance deadlines, but keeps a controversial dust-wipe requirement for home inspections.

The amendment passed with a 10-1 vote, with Councilman Tom Waniewski the lone dissenter.

It delays the fast-approaching original Sept. 17 deadline when all of an estimated 50,000 affected dwellings were to have been inspected and certified. Now, there are three deadlines divided by census tracts, starting with areas identified as highest-risk for poisoning children.

lead18p

A lead hazard sign is posted on a home on Putnam Street in Toledo. Toledo City Council has voted 10-1 to approve an amendment to the city’s “lead-safe” rental property law that extends compliance deadlines, but keeps a controversial dust-wipe requirement for home inspections.

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Under the amendment, properties in the first group of census tracts must be certified by June 30, 2018; the second group by June 30, 2019, and the third by June 30, 2020.

The law, initially passed in August and effective in September, requires rental properties with one to four units built before 1978 and homes that operate day-care programs to be inspected visually for lead hazards like peeling paint and tested for lead dust before they can be issued lead-safe certificates.

Compliance has been slow; only 60 properties have been certified as of last week, according to the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

Councilman Rob Ludeman’s proposal to eliminate mandatory dust-wipe tests from initial inspections narrowly failed, with five votes for it and six against. The dust-wipe provision, which requires inspectors to swab multiple areas of a home and send off dust samples for testing, is unpopular with many of the law’s critics — particularly landlords who have spoken against it at council meetings over the past year.

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Mr. Ludeman’s proposal called for a dust-wipe test only if a property first fails a visual inspection. Voting to remove the initial wipe requirement were Councilmen Ludeman, Sandy Spang, Steven Steel, Mr. Waniewski, and Matt Cherry.

Mr. Ludeman and Councilman Peter Ujvagi, who introduced the original amendment and voted to keep the dust wipes, both said they were surprised by the slim margin.

“I thought it was a pretty practical addition to the amended version. I thought it would create an environment of cooperation not confrontation,” Mr. Ludeman said of his amendment.

“I’m not sure I expected my amendment to go through, but I was pleased to get five votes. With the seat over there vacant, who knows what could happen,” he said, referring to Theresa Gabriel’s recent resignation from council to become deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Mr. Ujvagi said the approved amendment was the product of compromise from all interests and parties.

“That’s why we took as long as we did, and did the work we did to accommodate as much as possible without putting additional risk on children and families,” he said.

In addition to extending deadlines, the amendment establishes a hardship extension program for landlords who fail initial inspections but make good-faith efforts toward compliance, and removes a provision that called for a registry of tenant names and addresses.

A vote to fund an incentive program waiving the $45 filing fee for owners of the first 2,000 properties should they register by September was delayed for further discussion.

In other business, council:

— Voted to recognize April 22, and every third Saturday in future Aprils, as Pat O’Connor Day to honor the owner of Culture Clash Records who died in December.

— Authorized the mayor to enter into a $102,000 contract with Patch Management, Inc. to use its so-called “Pothole Killer” system to repair streets for six months.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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