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Friday, May 17, 2024

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Cape May City Tables Lead Paint Inspection Ordinance

Cape May City Tables Lead Paint Inspection Ordinance

By Vince Conti

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CAPE MAY – The City Council has tabled an ordinance that deals with the way the municipality will meet a new state requirement regarding lead paint inspections in rental dwellings.

The ordinance, which was up for introduction at the council’s May 7 meeting, is a response to a 2021 New Jersey statute that requires municipalities to ensure that rental dwellings are inspected for lead paint every three years or upon tenant turnover.

Each municipality in the state is required under the statute to either conduct or see that the owners conduct the required inspections, beginning on July 22, 2024. The state has mandated the actions but left to each municipality the methodology by which it will be enforced and the fee structure necessary to cover the expense of the inspections.

The council tabled the ordinance to have more time for council members to ensure it has a clear statement of purpose and process. The lengthy ordinance adoption process will require the city to act soon in order to meet the initial inspection deadline in late July.

Cape May has opted to use an ordinance as a way of making the city’s process clear since ways to enforce the statute can vary among municipalities, according to city Solicitor Christopher Gillin-Schwartz.

The statute exempts a number of properties from the inspection requirement, leaving what Gillin-Schwartz termed “a limited universe of properties.” Among the exemptions are all properties built since 1978, since lead paint was banned in 1977, he said. The inspection requirement also only applies to long-term rentals, defined as greater than six months.

The council was told that the number of pre-1978 rental dwellings in the city is approximately 460. The city is still assessing how many of these properties are long- or short-term rentals.

Much like the 2021 statutory requirement that community water systems, including those that are owned and operated by municipalities, inspect for and remove lead service lines, the mandate for lead paint inspections is unfunded and will depend on fees charged to property owners.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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