Understanding Local Law 31: Lead Paint Rules for NYC Landlords

New York City’s Local Law 31 of 2020 introduced new lead inspection requirements for landlords and building owners, enforced by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD).

The most notable requirement is for building owners to conduct certified lead-based paint inspections for all dwelling units and common areas in pre-1960 residential buildings within a specified timeframe.

If you’re not familiar with Local Law 31 of 2020, here’s what you need to know in order to avoid costly violations in accordance with New York City’s newest lead paint rules.

What is Local Law 31 of 2020?

Over the past few years, New York City has made several important updates to the NYC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (Local Law 1 of 2004), strengthening existing lead laws and expanding inspection requirements for landlords and building owners.

Local Law 31 of 2020, which went into effect on August 9, 2020 requires landlords to have X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) lead inspections conducted by EPA-certified inspectors to test for the presence of lead-based paint in multiple dwelling residential buildings.

Local Law 31 also includes a 5-year testing requirement, meaning that all residential building owners in NYC must have all dwelling units inspected for lead paint by August 9, 2025.

Apartments with children under the age of 6 residing there must be inspected much sooner. If a family with a child under the age of 6 recently moved into an apartment, lead testing must be completed within 1 year of their move-in date.

[Updated August 2023] The newly passed Local Law 111 of 2023 has amended Local Law 31’s requirements to also include XRF lead testing for all common areas in residential buildings by August 2025.

What Are the Latest Requirements Laid Out in Local Law 31?

  1. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer inspections are now required for all tenant-occupied dwelling units and common areas in residential buildings built prior to 1960 (as well as for buildings built between 1960 and 1978 with known lead-based paint).
  2. XRF lead inspections must take place within 5 years of the effective date of the law (by August 9, 2025) or within one year if a child under the age of 6 resides in or moves into the unit.
  3. Inspections must be conducted by a third-party, EPA-certified lead inspector or risk assessor, independent of the owner or any firm hired to perform lead-based paint remediation.
  4. Copies of records for completing the testing requirement under Local Law 31 of 2020 must be maintained for 10 years.

Failure to comply with these requirements and deadlines will result in a Class “C” hazardous violation. Property owners will be liable for civil penalties of $1,000 minimum and $5,000 maximum per violation.

[Updated December 1, 2021] Per Local Law 66, the new threshold for defining lead-based paint has been lowered from 1.0 mg/cm2 to 0.5 mg/cm2 — starting on December 1, 2021. HPD has confirmed that XRF lead inspections performed prior to December 1st may still use the old 1.0 mg/cm2 threshold and will NOT need to be re-tested for Local Law 31 compliance.

This apartment houses a child under six and will require an XRF inspection by August 9th of this year.

Lead Testing Requirements for Units With Children Under 6

It’s important to note that, while building owners have until August 9, 2025 to have XRF inspections performed, if a child under the age of 6 resides in a unit, owners must have the XRF inspection performed within a year (by August 9, 2021).

For children under the age of 6, the term “resides” means the child either lives in, or routinely spends 10 or more hours per week in a dwelling unit in a pre-1960 building.

Therefore, XRF testing requirements also apply to properties in which a child visits and spends time in regularly, even if they don’t live there.

Does Local Law 31 Apply to Condos and Co-Ops?

There are certain cases where co-ops and condominiums must comply with the lead inspection requirements laid out in Local Law 1 of 2004 and updated in Local Law 31 of 2020.

Any condo or co-op unit that is being rented or sublet is subject to the new 5-year (or 1-year) XRF inspection requirements.

Condo or co-op units that are occupied by the owner, shareholder, or their family, are exempt.

What Is X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analyzer Testing?

XRF analyzers are specialized machines containing radioactive isotopes that are used to determine the elemental composition of a sample surface.

Handheld XRF analyzers are used specifically by trained professionals to detect the presence of potential lead hazards. Because these machines are expensive to own and operate, XRF inspections may cost as much as several hundred dollars depending on the size of each unit being tested.

In order to be compliant with Local Law 31, testing must be performed by EPA-certified lead professionals. Typically, XRF inspections take under an hour to complete and come with an extensive report of findings detailing all surfaces inspected.

Local Law 31 inspection reports must be kept on hand and made available to HPD upon request.

What Are Lead-Based Paint Hazards?

Lead-based paint was banned in New York City in 1960, but it still exists in older buildings. As a hazard, lead exposure can be poisonous for young children and pose significant risks to pregnant women.

According to the HPD website, common examples of lead-based paint hazards include:

  • Peeling, chipping, or damaged lead paint
  • Dust from deteriorating lead paint
  • Lead paint on crumbling plaster or rotted wood
  • Lead paint on doors, door frames, windows, and window sills that stick or rub together
  • Lead paint on other surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear-and-tear
A sign reads "Lead Hazard work area: Keep out; no smoking, eating, or drinking".

Need Help With Lead Paint Inspection or Abatement in NYC?

Green Orchard Group is a leading environmental health & safety company in NYC specializing in EPA-certified lead inspection and abatement services.

Contact us today for assistance with Local Law 31 compliance or any of our lead services:

  • XRF lead inspections
  • Paint chip sampling
  • Dust wipe clearance testing
  • Abatement and removal
  • HPD lead paint violations

Call (212) 219-8261 or use our contact form to request a free quote!

Contact Green Orchard Group’s EPA-Certified Lead Experts