what philadelphia residents and landlords need to know about the new lead safety bill

On September 26, 2019, Philadelphia City Council passed Bill #180936, which updates the law on lead certification in rental properties.

Why is it important to test rental properties for lead?

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.

What were the rules on lead certification prior to the passage of Bill #180936?

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.

What are the new lead certification requirements?

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.

Will any rental properties be exempted?

Starting in October 2020, once a zip code is phased into the law, only college dormitories and properties built after February 1978 will be exempted from the lead certification requirement for rental properties.

How do I obtain a lead-free or lead safe certification?

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.

Where can I find a copy of Bill #180936?

You can review the bill in its entirety here.

How can I learn more?

For updates on the implementation of the new lead certification requirement, please contact the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.