In one of the largest enforcement actions of its kind, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency today announced a Boston-based real estate company has agreed to remove lead paint hazards from approximately 10,400 apartments in seven states and the District of Columbia, and to pay a monetary penalty.

HUD and EPA claim the company failed to notify its tenants that their homes may contain potentially dangerous amounts of lead. The apartments that will be made lead-safe under this agreement are located in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Virginia and the District of Columbia. More than 7,000 apartments are located in Massachusetts alone.

Winn Residential Limited Partnership and its affiliates own and manage more than 235 housing projects across the country. The company agreed to pay a $105,000 civil penalty and to test for and clean up all existing lead-based paint hazards in its units. EPA estimates that the cost of lead abatement projects associated with this settlement are likely to be as high as $3.7 million.

“Today’s settlement should remind landlords that they have a legal responsibility to tell their tenants if their homes may harm their children,” said Miniard Culpepper, HUD’s acting regional director for New England. “This agreement will not only create thousands of healthier homes but (it) will give families the peace of mind to raise their kids without fear of lead poisoning.”

In 2001, there were approximately 1,100 children in Boston alone with elevated blood lead levels, according to a press statement. The majority of cases are in the city’s lower-income, most diverse neighborhoods.

“Despite the fact that so much can be done to keep kids safe from lead paint, too many are still poisoned in their own homes,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly. “This agreement sets the standard for the property management industry and sends the message that, through collaboration, we can make significant strides to protect our children from harm.”

Since 2001, Reilly has been working closely with HUD and EPA, as well as the state Department of Public Health, to negotiate two settlements with Winn addressing environmental and civil rights issues. The first, filed by his Environmental Protection Division, mirrors the HUD-EPA settlement and requires the company to comply with the state’s lead law. The second, negotiated by the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, requires the company to put detailed policy and procedures in place to prevent discrimination against families with children under the age of six, who are most vulnerable to lead paint poisoning.

The allegations involve violations of the disclosure requirements of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. The Lead Disclosure Rule requires that sellers and landlords of housing constructed prior to 1978 provide each purchaser or tenant with a lead hazard information pamphlet, any information and/or reports concerning lead-based paint hazards in the property and a Lead Warning Statement to be signed by the parties. Additionally, sellers are required to provide purchasers with an opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint evaluation.

Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, poorer hearing and a host of other health problems in young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior.

Earlier this year the New England Journal of Medicine published a story on researchers who found that even at low levels, lead exposure in children can significantly impact IQ and even delay puberty in young girls. At higher levels, lead can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels has been cut in half since the early 1990s, although the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in low-income, unassisted older housing remains high. In fact, one in six low-income children living in older housing is believed to be lead poisoned. HUD estimates that the number of houses with lead paint has declined from 64 million in 1990 to 38 million in 2000.

HUD is a federal agency that implements housing policy.


What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription