The corporate owners of numerous Coldwell Banker real-estate brokerage offices in four New England states face civil penalties for more than 100 violations of lead paint disclosure rules.
The two real estate corporations are NRT New England LLC and Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services LLC (both doing business as Coldwell Banker Real Estate Brokerage), operating in southern Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
Inspections and review of submitted information by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the Coldwell Banker Real Estate Brokerage offices committed a total of 102 violations of the Lead Disclosure Rule during 34 real estate transactions between 2005 and 2007. The corporations that own and operate the offices face penalties of up to $11,000 for each violation cited in the complaint.
The offices cited are in North Haven and Fairfield, Conn.; Lincoln and Somerville, Mass.; Dover and Manchester, N.H.; and East Providence, R.I.
Federal law requires that landlords and property owners or their agents notify prospective tenants or purchasers about the potential for lead paint hazards in residential properties. Notifying prospective tenants about potential lead paint hazards in housing helps parents protect young children from ingesting lead.
"Exposure to lead paint is a serious public health concern for children in New England because much of our housing was built before 1978 when use of lead paint was banned," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.
"Property managers, owners and their agents play an important part in helping to prevent lead poisoning by following lead paint disclosure requirements and making sure families are aware of potential lead hazards in homes."
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies; reading and learning disabilities; impaired hearing; reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.
This case is one of the largest cases brought against a real estate company and is among dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA has taken in New England to make sure property owners, property managers and real estate agents are complying with federal lead disclosure laws.
This action contributes to EPA's record-shattering enforcement results for the 2008 fiscal year. Nationwide this year, EPA has concluded enforcement actions requiring polluters to spend an estimated $11 billion on pollution controls, clean-up and environmental projects, an all time record for EPA. After these activities are completed, EPA expects annual pollution reductions of more than three billion pounds.