Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (December 23, 2003) – The holiday gift of safer housing will be given to many in years to come as a result of a settlement with two landlords in Baltimore. On Dec. 10, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) reached a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order with Westchester Apartments, LLC and Baybrook Park, LLC for violations of Maryland’s lead paint reduction laws.

“Nearly 200 rental units will be made lead safe in fairly short order due to this action,” said Acting MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “Increasing the pool of lead safe housing, particularly in Baltimore, is vitally important in our battle against this fully preventable environmental condition.”

Westchester Apartments, LLC owns 46 residential rental properties and Baybrook Park, LLC owns 140 residential rental properties constructed prior to 1950 in Baltimore City. The owners of these properties have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $15,000 and obtain full lead hazard risk reduction certificates for all Westchester Apartments, LLC and Baybrook Park, LLC properties by March 1, 2004.

Additionally, the owners have agreed to complete additional lead abatement work and obtain lead free certificates for all Westchester Apartments, LLC properties by September 1, 2004 and all Baybrook Park, LLC properties by September 1, 2005. MDE will be conducting oversight to ensure compliance with the agreement. Westchester Apartments, LLC and Baybrook Park, LLC have common ownership. The firms contacted MDE earlier this year after receiving inquiries about the status of their units from a citizen activist group. Charges in the case stem from failure to register units and perform risk reduction treatments on tenant turnover at units along Duane and Hague Avenues.

“The effort of Westchester Apartments, LLC and Baybrook Park, LLC to cooperate with MDE and conduct lead paint abatement that exceed the minimum requirements of Maryland law is admirable and sets a good example for other rental property owners,” Philbrick added.

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 whenever there is tenant turnover. As of Feb. 24, 2001 property owners were required to ensure that no less than 50 percent of their units were in compliance with the lead hazard risk reduction standard. Owners of residential rental dwellings units constructed before 1950 are required to register each affected property with MDE.

Property owners may call (800) 776-2706 for lead law compliance information and property registration. 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. In 2002 that number dropped to 260.

Lead poisoning continues to impact more children in Baltimore City than other Maryland jurisdictions.