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The building permitting process can be used to ensure that building renovations are conducted using lead-safe work practices. Where state or local code housing code enforcement officials are charged with administering, overseeing, and enforcing the building permitting processes, there is an opportunity to increase the utilization of lead safe work practices by requiring contractors to have the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Program certification in order to obtain a building permit.
The RRP program is enforced by the EPA or administered at the state level by states (14 total) that have been authorized by EPA to provide oversight of the RRP Rule’s in their jurisdictions. By requiring contractors to be RRP certified, local jurisdictions can promote primary lead poisoning prevention through private investment as potential lead hazards are addressed before children are poisoned.
The State of Minnesota passed a law that was effective in 2011 and requires that a permit should not be issued for work on pre-1978 residential structures unless the licensed residential contractor requesting the permit has the required lead certification or one of the exceptions under the EPA RRP Rule. The Minnesota statute reads: “Subd. 13.Lead certification. When issuing permits in compliance with the State Building Code to a residential building contractor, residential remodeler, manufactured home installer, or residential roofer licensed under section 326B.805, municipalities must verify lead certification qualifications of the licensee required under subdivision 14 for renovations performed on residential property constructed prior to 1978.”
In Minnesota, municipalities may levy a surcharge for verification of this certification under section 326B.815, subdivision 2. The state or any political subdivision must not impose a fee for the same or similar certification as required under Code of Federal Regulations, title 40, section 745.89.” For more information, please visit: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/326B.106
States and jurisdictions can require compliance with the EPA RRP contractor and worker certification and training requirements. States, counties and/or cities can utilize the residential building permitting process as an opportunity to verify RRP certification. RRP training and certification applies where housing repair contractors and/or building owners are conducting renovations on pre-1978 residential properties which disturbs painted surfaces above the de minimus level and/or where window replacement is occurring that requires a permit. Enforcement of this requirement involves providing proof of RRP training and certification for the firm, supervisors and/or workers that are performing this work, and denial of permit, and possibly reporting of a contractor to the RRP-enforcement entity in your state, where training and certification proof are not present in the permit application. Tying RRP certification to building permitting is an effective enforcement mechanism for the RRP, incentivizes certification in the contractor workforce, results in wider use of lead safe work practices in your community and reduces the risk of lead exposure as a result of home repair and renovations.