Rhode Island court orders immediate lead remediation following enforcement action by Attorney General and RIDOH
Defendants also ordered to relocate tenants – a mother and her two children – to alternative housing during remediation and pay for family’s meals
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Rhode Island Superior Court judge has ordered the owners of a Providence residential rental property containing long-standing lead violations to immediately initiate lead hazard remediation following an enforcement action filed by the Office of the Attorney General and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).
On February 11, 2022, Superior Court Justice Linda Rekas Sloan ordered defendants Regent Place, LLC and Robert Riccardi to hire licensed professionals to complete lead hazard remediation at an apartment on Wealth Avenue within seven days of the issuance of the court order.
The Court further ordered that the defendants relocate their tenants to temporary housing (hotel/AirBnb) during the time that the remediation work will be conducted. Additionally, the Court ordered that the defendants must contribute to the family’s daily meal costs during the time they are displaced by the remediation work.
“Far too many children are lead poisoned due to the presence of lead paint in and around their homes every year, and far too many landlords fail to do what they are required to do by law, which is to take action in response. Those landlords in many instances have repeatedly blown off Department of Health orders to remediate their rental properties,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Since this Office began our unprecedented lead paint enforcement initiative last year, these landlords are being hauled into court and forced to take action, as happened here. I am grateful to the Court for its quick and decisive action. Child safety has taken priority, and that is a win for all Rhode Islanders.”
In November 2021, the Office of the Attorney General’s Lead Advocate filed an enforcement action in Superior Court seeking a preliminary injunction against the defendants to immediately remediate long-standing lead violations at their rental property following the lead poisoning of two children. A subsequent re-inspection of the property, as recent as December 2021, confirmed that the lead hazards were still present.
Prior to the court order, the defendants had failed to address the lead hazard violations at the property, which was built in 1910.
“Every child in every home in Rhode Island deserves to be safe from lead paint poisoning,” said Attorney General Neronha. “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.”
Recently, Attorney General Neronha announced a separate enforcement action against two Rhode Island landlords following multiple cases of child lead poisoning at their residential rental property in Providence.
In October, the Attorney General’s Office brought two lawsuits, following referrals from RIDOH against landlords of properties where children had been lead-poisoned – with more targets on the horizon. Complaints filed against Mortgage Equity Conversion Asset Trust 2011-1 and Cheang’s Realty, LLC allege that the residential property owners failed to comply with Notices of Violation from RIDOH that required them to remediate lead hazards.
RIDOH was notified when, after routine pediatric testing, young children who lived at these properties were found to have lead poisoning. RIDOH inspections of the properties revealed significant lead paint hazards in nearly all areas – including children’s bedrooms.
In addition to recent enforcement actions, the Attorney General and Department of Health also issued guidance to cities and towns to support local housing code enforcement officers in the vital role they can play in preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Special Assistant Attorney General Keith Hoffmann represented the Office of the Attorney General in the case.