HUD, EPA and U.S. Attorney in Minnesota Announce Legal Settlement With Minneapolis Landlord
By U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
WASHINGTON – The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota today announced a legal settlement with a Minneapolis landlord who failed to inform tenants that their homes might contain potentially dangerous levels of lead. Through this settlement, Steven J. Meldahl, the owner of SJM Properties, has agreed to address all lead-based paint hazards in the 34 Minneapolis homes he owns (see attached list of property addresses).
In addition to paying substantial funds to make his rental units lead safe, Meldahl will pay a civil fine of $5,000 for violating the federal disclosure law and has agreed to notify his tenants of lead hazards immediately. Meldahl also agrees to comply with the Lead Disclosure Rule in the future.
"Families need to know whether their homes can potentially harm their children," said HUD Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi. "The law is clear – landlords and home sellers have an obligation to inform their tenants or homebuyers about possible lead-based paint hazards."
"Childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable," said EPA acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "Protecting children from exposure to lead-based paint is one of EPA’s highest priorities."
The settlement announced today is the sixth such agreement in Minnesota that requires landlords to expend funds to abate all lead hazards in their rental units. Pursuant to the six agreements, nearly 5,000 rental units in Minneapolis and St. Paul will be made lead safe for tenants. Moreover, the landlords involved in these six settlements have paid civil fines and provided over $170,000 for local children’s health projects, including funding a mobile lead poisoning screening vehicle called the "Leady Eddie Van." The "Leady Eddie Van" is now fully equipped and being used to screen children for lead poisoning throughout Minnesota.
Following HUD’s inspection, EPA issued an Administrative Subpoena to SJM Properties for copies of all lease agreements. HUD examined the lease agreements from all residential properties owned by SJM Properties and uncovered violations of the Lead Disclosure Rule. As part of the review, HUD and EPA discovered that Mr. Meldahl had purchased non-compliant lead disclosure forms from an outside entity. Acceptable lead disclosure forms can be found at at www.hud.gov/offices/lead/disclosurerule and www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadbase.htm.
In 2001, HUD launched a comprehensive investigation of landlord compliance of the Department’s Lead Disclosure Rule in Minneapolis. The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 and the Lead Disclosure Rule issued under the law require home sellers and landlords of housing built before 1978 to provide each purchaser or tenant with a lead information pamphlet, any available information and/or reports concerning lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the property, and a Lead Warning Statement to be signed by the parties. Sellers must also provide purchasers with an opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection and/or risk assessment at the purchaser's expense.
After the settlement agreement was filed today, United States Attorney Rachel K. Paulose said, "The federal government is committed to enforcing the federal lead disclosure law. This action, al