Chipping Away at Philadelphia’s Lead Paint Long-Awaited Amendments to Philadelphia’s Lead Disclosure & Certification Law

October 23, 2019 | By Nicole E. Norcross

Recently, Philadelphia’s Mayor signed into law Bill No. 180936-A (the “Ordinance”) which amends the city’s Lead Disclosure & Certification Law to require residential landlords to test and certify lead safety every 4 years for all rental properties built before 1978.

Prior to the Ordinance, Philadelphia’s law only required residential landlords leasing properties built prior to 1978 to certify that their property is either lead safe, with toxic metal eradicated or contained, or lead free, to only new tenants who had children 6 years old or younger. The prior law also provided broad exceptions for: (i) dwelling units owned or subsidized by the Philadelphia Housing Authority or its subsidiaries; (ii) dwelling units in which children aged 6 and under do not and will not reside; and (iii) college and university housing, and other educational institution housing exclusively for students.

The Ordinance expanded the law apply to all properties used for residential leasing that were built before 1978, even if such property was renovated after that date. The Ordinance also reduced the exceptions so that only dwelling units for the exclusive residential use of an educational institution’s students where non-family members are not permitted to reside would be excluded.

In addition, the Ordinance increased the duration of a landlord’s Lead Safe Certification from 2 years to 4 years beginning on the date a rental license for the premises is issued. While an increase in the duration between certification is not ideal from the standpoint of children health advocates, it alleviates some of the landlords’ burden by tying the certification requirement to the procurement or renewal of a landlord’s rental license, and decreasing the cost and frequency incurred in obtaining new certifications. For Lead Free Certificate, compliance is a one-time requirement if the property meets the requisite testing requirements.

The Ordinance is effective on October 1, 2020. To implement the Ordinance, the City’s Department of Public Health will post the percentage of screened children with elevated blood lead levels living in each of the city’s active zip codes prior to October 1, 2020. Four regions throughout the City will be created, grouping the highest 11 ranked zip codes as Region I, and the remaining zip codes in descending order of children containing elevated blood lead levels as Regions II, III and IV, respectively. Each zip code’s
grouping in a region will determine the time in which they will be subject to compliance of the Ordinance as follows:

  • For Region I zip codes: October 1, 2020
  • For Region II zip codes: April 1, 2021
  • For Region III zip codes: October 1, 2021
  • For Region IV zip codes: April 1, 2022

This transition schedule will implement compliance with the amendments to the Lead Disclosure & Compliance Law citywide by April 1, 2022.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding compliance issues and best practices for managing your residential rental properties, please feel free to reach out to Nicole Norcross or one of the other attorneys in our Business and Finance Department.

A copy of the Ordinance can be found by clicking here.

About the Authors

Nicole E. Norcross


Nicole focuses her practice on transactional matters, specifically commercial real estate, business transactions and financing, both in the public and private sectors. Nicole’s experience in finance and real estate matters also allows...

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