[Parentsgroup-list] delead apartments

Ann Ishimaru Ann_Ishimaru at gse.harvard.edu
Mon Jun 26 15:30:09 EDT 2006


We have a newborn and were told a week before the baby was born that our 
lease would not be renewed.  We got a simple kit from Home Depot and 
confirmed our suspicion that the house is full of lead.  Yes, it's 
illegal to kick us out on that basis - we talked to several MA state 
agencies as well as a Harvard law tenant advocacy group.  But to force 
the landlord to de-lead, we'd have to move out anyway temporarily, and 
as new parents & full-time students, we're not up for a huge legal fight 
and living on hostile territory.  Since this has happened, though, we've 
heard SO many similar stories - it helps to hear that we aren't alone on 
this, but it also points out a real problem in how landlords get around 
the law.  It's very expensive to de-lead, apparently, so that's a major 
barrier to what was probably a very well-intentioned law.

That said, we found a de-leaded apartment that we'll be moving into next 
month (we were fortunate in not having to undertake a huge search - 
another doctoral student in my program is graduating and moving his 
family out of town for his new job, so we found the place through 
networking).  I believe the apartment on the bottom floor (which is also 
de-leaded) is going to open up in Sept. or Oct. (2 bedrooms, 8 min. from 
Davis Square), so if you are interested, let me know and I can see about 
getting you in touch w/the landlord or realtor for the property.

Ann
 
candice belanoff wrote:

> We definitely encountered some egregious housing discrimination when 
> we first moved to Boston on account of having a child under 6 (having 
> a dog only compounded the problem). Many, MANY landlords refused to 
> show us their apartments when they heard we had a kid; and one, who 
> seemed like a decent enough person, said she simply could not afford 
> to delead, (also having something to do with the fact that it was a 
> condo building and all the tenants would have to agree to it -- blah 
> blah blah -- still illegal, but you kind of see where there's a 
> barrier for individual home-owners.)  And I hate to say, but a broker 
> (evil) even refused to show us anything, claiming she had nothing 
> deleaded to show. If I'd had the resources and gumption at the time, I 
> would have raised some hell about it, but I had neither, and just 
> wanted a place to live. We were lucky and found a deleaded place in 
> Mission Hill. Seems like some landlords are very motivated to rent to 
> nice quiet families in neighborhoods which traditionally draw groups 
> of students renting apartments. Might be an angle to work.
>
> --candice
>
>
> At 02:05 PM 6/26/2006 -0400, wenc at fas.harvard.edu wrote:
>
>> Actually, MA law requires that all kids under 6 have to live in deleaded
>> housing.  No landlord can get around this except illegally, so 
>> landlords who
>> are renting apts in their own home ARE required to delead.  If they 
>> told you
>> otherwise they are in error.  There is a lot of mythology out there 
>> among
>> landlords about lead, so I wouldn't pay too much attention to what a 
>> landlord
>> says.  Look at the mass.gov web site or the Mass Dept of Public 
>> Health for the
>> real information.  Even homeowners are supposed to delead--Mass has 
>> some of the
>> most stringent lead laws in the country.
>>
>> You might have more luck with a broker, unfortunately.  Since it 
>> takes some
>> money and effort to delead, I think many landlords prefer to use a 
>> more formal
>> screening process with a broker.  I would recommend a guy named Paul 
>> at Metro
>> Realty on Mass Ave in Cambridge--he helped me find a decently-priced 
>> deleaded
>> apt very quickly.  I think that it's not uncommon for the landlord to 
>> pay the
>> fee or to pay half the fee (usually a month's rent), though with the 
>> changing
>> housing market this might not be the case as much anymore.
>>
>> Also, newer buildings (built post-1978) will not have lead paint, so 
>> if you find
>> a place there you do not have to worry about lead.
>>
>> I had a lead poisoning scare with my son that turned out to be an 
>> error, but in
>> the process I learned that it's not really something you want to mess 
>> with--you
>> need to be in deleaded housing.  (I was staying in a non-deleaded 
>> house at the
>> time)  But I also learned that it's QUITE easy for there to be errors 
>> when your
>> kid gets their blood lead test at the doctor.  The finger-stick test 
>> can be
>> totally wrong, as it was with me--apparently my son just stuck his 
>> finger in
>> some leaded dust on his way to the doc or something (East Coast 
>> cities are
>> powdered with lead, from leaded gasoline days and from 200 years of 
>> flaking
>> lead paint--it's in the soil, all over the place), and so his lead 
>> level came
>> back pretty high.  The arm stick test showed that his level was 
>> actually much
>> lower and wasn't anything to worry much about.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Quoting Kyla Ebels Duggan <ebels at fas.harvard.edu>:
>>
>> > Here are two possibilities for deleaded apartments:
>> >
>> > Our current apartment is in Union Square in Somerville on Putnam 
>> Street.
>> > It's managed by Greater Boston Properties, and you can find the 
>> number on
>> > the web.  There is a whole row of townhousey buildings, all 
>> deleaded.  The
>> > management is not stellar, but not terrible, and the apartments are
>> > spacious.
>> >
>> > Another possibility is our old landlord, Hugh Gelch.  He has some 
>> deleaded
>> > places, and is working on upgrading all of his places (a rare 
>> landlord who
>> > follows the law on this without having his arm twisted).  He was a 
>> great
>> > landlord.  His number is (617) 964-4220.  He doesn't have a whole 
>> lot of
>> > places in Somerville, and most of what he has is quite small.
>> >
>> > Also, we learned in looking for a place that landlords who are just
>> > renting out an apartment in their own home are not required to 
>> delead like
>> > others are.
>> >
>> > good luck!
>> > Kyla
>> >
>> > On Mon, 26 Jun 2006, Anna Shusterman wrote:
>> >
>> > > Hi,
>> > > It is a bit tricky around here. However there are some financial 
>> incentives
>> > > (at least in somerville) for landlords to delead -- it is not as 
>> costly or
>> > > time consuming as they would have you believe. Our landlord 
>> deleaded for us
>> > > (after our other landlord kicked us out -- win some, lose some). 
>> In theory,
>> > > according to the law, they cannot deny you housing based on the 
>> fact that
>> > > you have a small child, and they *have* to bring the apartment into
>> > > compliance with the lead laws. It depends how pushy you want to 
>> be to make
>> > > it clear to potential landlords that you know that law and you 
>> know that
>> > > they are violating it.
>> > > There are deleaded apartments and decent landlords around, though 
>> -- you
>> > > just have to look hard for them. Some postings don't advertise 
>> that they
>> > are
>> > > deleaded, and if the apartment looks freshly renovated, you can 
>> move in and
>> > > then insist that the landlord do lead testing and bring the place 
>> into
>> > > compliance. I think that even if you sign the "lead disclosure" 
>> form that
>> > > they provide, if they rent to you with a small child they are not 
>> off the
>> > > hook -- they still have to bring the place into compliance. I 
>> would double
>> > > check this, though.
>> > > Good luck -- if I hear of any good deleaded apartments I will 
>> post them
>> > > here.
>> > > -Anna
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > On 6/26/06, Jenny Kirsten Ataoguz <jksmith at fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
>> > > >
>> > > > dear All,
>> > > > We have started apartment hunting and have learned that with 
>> children it
>> > > > is
>> > > > a bit tricky because of the issue of deleading.  Does everyone 
>> live in
>> > > > deleaded apartments?  Is it really difficult to find one?
>> > > > Thanks,
>> > > > Kirsten Ataoguz
>> > > >
>> > > >
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