(PHILADELPHIA) October 22, 2019 – Today, Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown’s legislation requiring lead certification in all rental properties. Lead poisoning in childhood is a cause of learning and behavior problems. Even small amounts of lead can cause harm to the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Lead in a child’s body can slow down growth and development, damage hearing and speech, cause behavior problems and make it hard to pay attention and learn. Adults can also be harmed by the ingestion of lead.
“This is a proud moment for our City as this bill was the final action on a package of bills introduced in October 2018 to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure and poisoning in our City. We introduced five bills and now all five have passed,” stated Councilmember Reynolds Brown. “The passage of the legislation on lead certification in rental properties makes Philadelphia a national leader when it comes to lead poisoning prevention in children.”
The original lead certification law, passed in 2011, required landlords to hold a valid lead certification conducted no more than two years before the signing of a lease. While the law applied to all rental properties, it exempted properties built after February 1978, college dormitories, housing designated for college students, PHA and Section 8 housing, and housing in which a child aged six and under would not reside.
Under this new legislation, all rental properties with the exception of properties built after 1978 and college dormitories are required to certify that a unit is lead-free or lead-safe. This bill contemplates one common system for lead certification in the city and does so in a way that protects children in all rental properties while avoiding discriminatory outcomes that have been revealed from the current law.
The bill also includes an adjustment period designed to facilitate a smooth transition for both landlords and the administration.
Starting on October 1, 2020, landlords operating rental properties in eleven Philadelphia zip codes – regardless whether they will be renting to children under seven — will be required to obtain a lead-free or lead-safe certification in order to A) execute a new or renewed lease or B) receive a new or renewed rental license. The remaining zip codes in Philadelphia will be phased in over a two-year period. Landlords in those remaining zip codes will continue during that two-year period to be subject to the current requirement to hold a valid lead certification if children under seven will be living in the premises.
To view a larger, interactive map of those zip codes and other helpful information on the new requirements go to: phlcouncil.com/leadcert
STATEMENT FROM Dr. Thomas Farley, Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Health
“Today marks an historic day in our City. The signing of this bill is the next step toward combatting the problem of lead exposure in our City. This law fundamentally changes our approach to lead exposure from dealing with it after the fact to preventing it in the first place. Though there is still much work to do, we look forward to seeing an end to child lead poisoning in Philadelphia.”
STATEMENT FROM Ruth Ann Norton, President & CEO, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
“Maryland’s experience has also demonstrated that laws of this type create value and savings for communities. Protecting children from lead hazards in their own homes has been shown to improve high school graduation rates, reduce crime, improve behavioral health outcomes, and increase lifetime earnings.”
“We thank Councilmember Reynolds Brown for her continued leadership on this issue, and congratulate Mayor Kenney, Philadelphia City Council and Philadelphia’s lead poisoning prevention advocates for achieving this momentous step forward in protecting our children!”
Philadelphia has a number of companies who conduct lead-free and lead safe certifications. Interested individuals and organizations can also become lead certifiers by completing a class on the topic.
For updates on the implementation of the new lead certification requirement, please contact the Philadelphia Department of Public Health or visit PHLcouncil.com/leadcert
Watch the bill signing: