Tenants and landlords voice concerns on lead inspection ordinance

Tenants and landlords voice concerns on lead inspection ordinance

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Dozens of residents packed Toledo City Council Chambers Tuesday, where tenants and landlords showed up in force to weigh in on changes to the lead-safe housing ordinance.

Some say they don't think the city's changes go far enough and they spoke up during the meeting when Council laid them out.

Among the major changes to the ordinance:

  • A Hardship milestone program
  • Names of tenants do NOT have to be provided
  • Pre-inspection consultation by lead inspectors
  • Property owners have longer to comply

Even so, landlords and renters voiced their concern. Some were worried they will end up losing their homes.

Tuesday's meeting started with the presentation of a compromise.

The Toledo Health Department explained some new changes to rental lead inspection requirements. But things got rowdy when some members of council spoke,

"I love it," said Councilman Larry Sykes, in response to the vocal crowd. "I love it because this is democracy, come in and express your concerns."

During public comment, landlords and tenants argued against the required lead dust wipe test...

"This is having a huge impact on us," said Crystal Phelps, a tenant of an older home in the Old West End. "We've had 2 people on our block who've had their leases terminated."

Phelps says some landlords are evicting neighbors, based on a belief the home will not be clean enough to pass lead inspection.

The Health Department says the requirement is necessary and should be simple to pass. He says it's really about property maintenance.

"Make sure that the inside is painted," said Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski, "There's no peeling paint, there's no chipping, make sure that it's clean, make sure that the outside is painted, and make sure that any exposed ground is covered."

But some feel the city's requirement to have a certain level of dust in the home is unreasonable, and they should have the same visual test that is required of LMHA homes.

"I really just think visual inspection only, you know, chipped cracked or peeling paint," said Laura Elliott, Renter in the Old West End, who spoke to City Council. "If it's good enough for section 8 and those children, then why isn't it good enough for us?"

But Councilman Sykes thinks it is an unreasonable fear, and a visual inspection is not enough to keep children safe from the harmful effects of lead exposure.

"I hate to see people moving out because you can work around this," Councilman Sykes said. "You know, people panic without thinking things through it's just unfortunate."

Councilman Sykes says he learned from some of the public comments that he'll now be looking into, like requiring licensing and background checks for the inspection companies who check for lead in your home.

He encourages anyone with concerns to contact your city council member, or the Lucas County Health Department.

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