AG Neronha takes action against area landlords for outstanding lead violations
RIAG and RIDOH also issue legal guidance to Rhode Island cities and towns on childhood lead poisoning prevention
PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that the Office has taken enforcement action against two Providence landlords, Mark O’Day and David Buda, who own and operate a property built in 1900 that has had multiple cases of lead poisoning in children.
After a third child recently tested positive for elevated blood levels of lead, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) conducted an inspection of the property that revealed several unresolved lead hazards – including in bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and the soil surrounding the property.
RIDOH issued two notices of violations to the defendants, who failed to resolve the conditions.
“Every child in every home in Rhode Island deserves to be safe from lead paint poisoning,” said Attorney General Neronha. “While most are, the fact remains that far, far too many are not. Remedying this major public health issue can very often be accomplished quickly and inexpensively by landlords. The failure of some to do so indicates one thing: they value their bottom-line rent receipts over the health of children. This Office will continue to stand up for children and hold these landlords accountable. The law requires them to do the right thing. We’ll make sure they do.”
The State’s complaint seeks for defendants to correct all outstanding lead violations through remediation performed by a licensed Lead Hazard Contractor; ensure that any tenants at the property are provided with, or compensated for, adequate housing accommodations if they are unable to remain in their homes due to the remediation; and repair any other housing code violations at the property.
Additionally, the landlords could be subject to penalties of up to $5000 per day that the lead hazard violations have existed at the property.
In a separate case, the Attorney General’s Office has asked for a preliminary injunction compelling defendants Regent Place, LLC and Robert Riccardi to immediately remediate the lead hazards at their rental property in East Providence.
In November 2021, AG Neronha sued the defendants for long-standing lead violations following the childhood lead poisoning of a tenant. A re-inspection by RIDOH in late December confirmed that the lead hazards were still present.
To date, the landlord has failed to act.
AG Neronha has requested that the Court require the defendants to hire a Lead Hazard Contractor licensed by RIDOH within three days; correct any and all outstanding lead violations at the property within 14 days, documented by the Lead Hazard Contractor; immediately ensure that any tenants at the property are provided with, or compensated for, adequate housing accommodations during any period that they are unable to remain in their home due to remediation; and place all rental income collected from tenants at the lead-contaminated property in an escrow account to be used for required lead abatement work.
Other recent cases involving lead hazard violations:
- State v. Mortgage Equity Conversion Asset Trust, PC-2021-06541
- State v. Cheang’s Realty, LLC and Elaine C. Preoung, PC-2021-06540
RIAG and RIDOH issue lead poisoning prevention guidance to Rhode Island cities and towns
The Attorney General and RIDOH have issued Guidance for Local Code Enforcement on Lead Hazard Violations to cities and towns to support local housing code enforcement officers in the vital role they can play in preventing childhood lead poisoning.
The guidance outlines steps that state and local officials can take to keep children and families safe. It notifies local code enforcement of their broad powers to enforce lead hazard mitigation and lead poisoning prevention laws and supports the ongoing efforts by Rhode Island cities and towns, state agencies, and dedicated nonprofits to remediate lead hazards and prevent lead poisoning.
Because of the health risks associated with lead exposure, particularly to young children and pregnant people, Rhode Island’s Lead Hazard Mitigation Act, Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, and other regulations require non-exempt owners of housing built before 1978 to ensure lead hazards are reduced to a level that is safe for tenants.