Proposed legislation regarding lead paint in housing rental units has the term “unintended consequences” written all over it.
The stated intent is to have landlords provide temporary housing to tenants while mitigation of lead paint is completed in their apartment or home rental. But in a time when the scarcity of any rental units is a clear and present concern, this proposal is going to further drive up rental costs and further dissuade landlords from renting to families with young children.
State law already requires lead testing for young children unless parents opt out. A reading higher than the standard (which is strict and about to get stricter) triggers a requirement that the state work with a landlord to immediately cover up lead-paint surfaces while a permanent remediation plan is executed.
But now comes New Hampshire Legal Assistance to propose that landlords relocate tenants until the permanent solution is complete.
“In an ideal world, a landlord has a vacant unit they can help the family move into while they get the work done,” a Legal Assistance attorney told our reporter.
Well, yes. And in an “ideal world” there would be plenty of rental housing for all, and at prices everyone could afford.
But this isn’t an ideal world. Under this bill, landlords would have to pay to relocate the tenants. And if they had no space, they would have to find a hotel room for them.
Landlords say this proposal will force them to hike the rent they charge, which will make it even more difficult for low-income families to find a place to live.
The bill is scheduled for a hearing today.
We hope common sense prevails.