Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (May 8, 2002) - The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) issued a Complaint, Order and Penalty against landlord James Cann on May 3 in the amount of $150,000 for violations of the state’s lead laws.

Cann, of Baltimore, owns 132 residential rental dwelling units in Baltimore, at least 130 of which were constructed prior to 1950. Cann erroneously registered his properties with MDE, indicating that all of them were constructed after 1950, allowing him to improperly “opt-out” of the pre-1950 Maryland lead law.

Additionally, Cann failed to comply with a July 26, 2001 Notice of Violation from MDE to bring 50 percent of his affected properties into compliance with Maryland’s full risk reduction standards. To date, MDE has received only six full risk reduction or lead-safe certificates for his properties.

“Failure to bring rental properties into compliance with applicable lead risk reduction standards creates an imminent danger to persons at risk who may occupy or spend time in the affected properties,” said Acting MDE Secretary Merrylin Zaw-Mon. “MDE rigorously enforces Maryland’s lead law, to ensure rental housing is lead safe.”

Zaw-Mon added that while MDE is aggressively pursuing enforcement, it will continue to enter into agreements with those property owners who are committed to achieving compliance with lead paint laws. Property owners may call (800) 776-2706 for lead law compliance information and property registration.

Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Law, enacted in 1994, requires owners of rental property constructed before 1950 to meet a Lead Hazard Risk Reduction Standard. Property owners are required to meet the standard prior to occupancy and whenever there is tenant turnover.

Owners of residential rental dwellings units constructed before 1950 are required to register each affected property with MDE and to bring each affected property into compliance with the lead hazard risk reduction standard. The goal of the statute is to reduce the incidence of lead poisoning in children under six and pregnant women.

MDE's Complaint, Order, and Penalty requires Cann to meet specific timeframes to: properly register all properties; bring all properties that have had a change in occupancy since February 23, 1996 into compliance with the full risk reduction standard; use a Maryland accredited lead paint abatement contractor; bring at least 50 percent of his properties into compliance with the full risk reduction standard; ensure that no child under the age of six and no pregnant woman is present during the performance of lead hazard reduction treatments; provide for temporary relocation of tenants; refrain from retaliating against tenants; ensure properties are inspected after treatment; and provide tenants of all Cann properties with Tenants’ Rights Notices and lead poisoning educational materials.

Cann has the right to a hearing to contest the Complaint, Order and Penalty.

Lead poisoning, a preventable disease, may result in poor school performance, inability to read, aggressive behavior, hearing loss or even mental retardation.

Maryland’s fight against lead poisoning has made great strides in the last few years through increased enforcement, property owner education and community awareness. In 1999 for example, 555 Maryland children were diagnosed with blood lead levels that exceeded the lead-poisoning standard. That number had dropped to 353 in 2000. Lead poisoning continues to impact more children in Baltimore City than other Maryland jurisdictions. Baltimore city children comprised 446 cases in 1999 and 266 in 2000.