During the Capitol Conference, Members of Congress need to hear from you about your experiences in implementing the Pre-Renovation Information Notification Regulations for lead-based paint that went into effect on June 6, 1999. This rule disrupts the way routine maintenance is carried out on properties built before 1978. The multifamily industry has protested the way in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) interpreted the intent of Congress in developing this rule. Now that apartment owners and managers have had several months of practical experience in carrying out these responsibilities, it is important to share this information with your Member of Congress.
Here are some steps you should take now before you come to the Capitol Conference:
* Evaluate the number of times you provide this notice in the routine operation of your property and the time and expense associated with providing the notice and subsequently keeping the proper records.
* Fill out the survey and return it as soon as possible to the Joint Legislative Staff.
* File comments about the problems you are encountering in meeting the demands of this rule with the Small Business Administration Regional Fairness Boards.
* Send a copy of that information to your member of Congress asking for assistance in stemming this excessive paperwork burden.
* Make an appointment with your Member of Congress to discuss these issues during the Capitol Conference.
It is important to keep up our efforts to achieve a revised rule that is both practical and faithful to the goal of protecting children's health.
Pre-Renovation regulatory requirements
The Pre-Renovation Information Notification and Disclosure rule requires that notification be given and records kept every time a painted surface of more than two square feet is disturbed on a residential property built before 1978. This regulation applied to any one renovator engaged in repair or renovation activities for compensation, including apartment maintenance staff. In short, not more than 60 days before beginning renovations in a residential unit or common area, the renovator must:
* Provide the owner (and resident, if the owner does not reside in the unit) with the EPA pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lea in Your Home, and
* Obtain either a written acknowledgment from the owner (or resident) that the pamphlet, has been received or a certificate of mailing of the pamphlet to the owner (or resident) at least seven days before the start of the renovation.
In the event that the renovator is not able to obtain the written acknowledgment from the resident, the renovator must make a certification in writing that the pamphlet was delivered, but the resident did not provide an acknowledgment. Should any changes in the scope, locations, or expected starting and ending dates of the renovation occur, a second written notification must be issued and acknowledged.
The renovator must retain the signed acknowledgment, certificate of mailing, or the certification of attempted delivery for a period of three years following the completion of each individual repair. It must be made available to EPA, upon request, to demonstrate compliance with the rule. Failure to provide the required notice on a timely basis or obtain written acknowledgment is subject to an $11,000 fine per occurrence. The failure to maintain required records is subject to a civil penalty of up to $27,500 per day and imprisonment of up to one year. Additional information on this rule is available at www.epa.gov/lead/eadrenf/htm.
Impact on multifamily housing
The number of repair/routine maintenance events subject to the EPA rule could require that residents receive as many as 10 notices a year, according to an analysis of work orders compiled by several multifamily property owners. Every unit in a typical apartment property would be required to receive renovation notices that would trigger recordkeeping requirements for the simple repainting of a common lobby. The national averages turnover rate in apartments is approximately 50 percent. Therefore, approximately 50 percent of residents have already received the pamphlet and accompanying disclosure within the prior year. The recordkeeping responsibilities for owners and managers will be staggering, and the possibility of recordkeeping errors almost certain.
Coalition seeks relief
The NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Staff organized a real estate industry coalition to seek congressional relief from the overly burdensome approaches the EPA took in interpreting requirements on property owners/managers under the pre-renovation information notification rule. Several members of Congress, including key members with authority over EPA's budget, Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), James Talent (R-MO), Anne Northup (R-KY), Robert "Bud" Cramer (D-AL), and John Sununu (R-NH) questioned EPA Administrator Carol Browner about this matter during her appearance at a budget hearing.
Based on the Administrator's response to their concerns, they sent a letter asking that the implementation of the regulation be delayed until a more workable regulation was developed that comported with the statutory aim of protecting children's health. Although this request was denied, the Joint Legislative Staff worked with the House Appropriations Committee to secure specific language in the approved committee report that accompanied the FY 2000 spending bill for EPA (H.R. 2684). The language offered by Rep. Frelinghuysen in the committee report states, in part, that the renovation and remodeling rule needs to be amended. Further, it directs EPA to work with property owners to streamline the recordkeeping requirements.
Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD, and Independent Agencies included similar language in the Senate version of the EPA funding bill. Association members from Missouri met with Sen. Bond in Washington and in Missouri to emphasize the difficulty that small businesses face in meeting these new statutory requirements. In addition to echoing the concerns raised by the House, the Senate calls on EPA to transmit a report to Congress by June 1, 2000, on the efforts it has specifically undertaken to streamline the paperwork burden for small businesses.
How you can help
Show us the numbers
The Senate Committee on Small Business directed the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, to review the paperwork requirements of several EPA regulations, that would place more than 1 million burden hours on the regulated community. In carrying out this analysis, GAO is seeking information from the regulated community on the Pre-Renovation Information Notification and Disclosure rule.
NAA/NMHC staff has prepared a survey regarding actual experience with the repair/renovation notification rule. We need your help to determine the regulation's real impact on:
* time burden,
* monetary burden, and
* examples of problems encountered such as delays in performing repairs, and other similar problems.
Please contact your local apartment association if you have not received a copy of the survey or contact Shari Solomon of the Joint Legislative Staff at 202/974-2345 or email email@example.com. The results of this survey will provide the GAO with the data it needs to evaluate EPA's claim that this regulation is not overly burdensome to businesses. The GAO report to Congress will be an important factor in shaping the changes that Congress may ask EPA to undertake to minimize the paperwork associated with this rule.
Small businesses speak up
The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act requires federal agencies to work with the regulated community in a constructive, rather than punitive, fashion. Under the provisions of this law, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has established 10 Regional Fairness Boards to provide small businesses with the opportunity to comment on enforcement activities by federal regulatory agencies. Under the law, the National Ombudsman and the Fairness Boards are required to furnish a report to Congress about the comments they have received concerning federal compliance and enforcement activities from small businesses. This report gives each agency a customer satisfaction rating by evaluating the enforcement activities of regulatory agency personnel and rating the regional and program offices of the regulatory agencies' responsiveness to small business.
Write to your Regional Fairness Board to discuss any difficulties that you are encountering as you attempt to comply with the many federal lead-based paint requirements. Give examples about paperwork, staff time, and the impact of time delays on resident satisfaction. NAA/ NMHC urge you to file a written comment and request an agency response from EPA on the Pre-Renovation Information Disclosure and Notification rule (also known as section 406 (b) of the Toxic Substances Control Act). Small businesses can complete a brief one-page appraisal form and describe the issue in their own terms. Comments remain confidential unless the company representative chooses to reveal its identity. Forms and instruction are located at www.sba.gov/regfair/form.
Congress will scrutinize the feedback that the SBA collected as it considers how to modify the paperwork requirements of the Pre-Renovation Information Notification and Disclosure rule. In addition, send copies of your letters to your Members of Congress and the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 Third St., SW, Washington, DC, 20416; 202/205-6533; fax 202/205-6928; email, Advocacy@sba.gov.
The Pre-Renovation Information Notification and Disclosure rule has placed an unnecessarily heavy burden on the multifamily housing industry. The provisions of this rule will not change without your help. It is essential to make your voice and experiences heard through these regulatory avenues.
RELATED ARTICLE: Home Contacts with Congress in 2000: Key to Industry Grassroots Success
By Jay Harris
The apartment industry has a unique opportunity this year to convey the message to Congress that we are healthy private-sector institutions meeting the needs of 15 million economically diverse households. With a hotly contested Presidential race, many expensive Senate races, and the control of the House of Representatives in play, members of Congress and their staff will be listening closely to what their apartment constituency has to say.
How can the industry best communicate with Congress? The National Apartment Association (NAA)/National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) partnership has established a smooth-running machine to communicate the industry's message. Based on industry suggestions, the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Staff identifies for Congressional staff and members of Congress the federal issues that have the greatest impact on the industry and offers solutions that resolve them.
Through the Newswire and Update publications, NAA association executives stay informed about these issues and any action they need to take with federal officials. To generate letters and phone calls aimed at a particular vote or hearing, the Apartment Industry Mobilization Services (AIMS) network sends out Alerts to hundreds of apartment professionals. Once a yeah the NAA Capitol Conference in March is an opportunity for the industry to communicate directly with members of Congress and their staffs about important issues.
However, the success of these activities depends upon the quality of the relationships the industry maintains and cultivates at home. Effective grassroots activities can be accomplished collectively as an industry, or individually, in cases where no strong NAA member apartment association exists. For example, these grassroots activities help strengthen the apartment industry's voice on Capitol Hill by:
* meeting twice during the year with your Senator and Representative when they are at home during the Congressional recesses;
* hosting Members of Congress to speak at industry meetings;
* inviting Congressional staff and federal officials to property openings and groundbreakings; and
* organizing support for candidate election campaigns.
Although the content of the issues that affect you changes regularly, the steps to creating a positive relationship with your Representatives and Senators rarely change. Here are a few key points to remember when attempting to contact your elected officials:
* Work with your state or local apartment association's legislative program to identify which member of Congress you should focus on.
* Make sure your property is located in the Representative's Congressional District.
* Choose one or two members of Congress to focus on; it is better to develop a first-name relationship with one member of Congress than a correspondence-only relationship with a few Members;
* Identify your message and your agenda for the meeting.
* Educate your elected official about the health of the industry. The legislative issues described in this issue of Units are critical, industrywide issues. However, federal regulatory and enforcement issues may be important to your agenda, and state-level issues, such as utility restructuring, may interest you and could be appropriate for you to address.
* Consider your elected official's committee assignments in choosing appropriate issues for your agenda. More Congressional information is available at www.nmhc.org.
* Meet with the Senator or Representative in person to convey your message. Your meeting typically will be in the district office. This meeting may take some time to arrange. Regardless of the content of the issues, meet on a regular basis, at least once a year, to maintain a working relationship.
* Schedule meetings during Congressional recesses and on the weekends, when elected officials are in their districts.
* Invite the member or staff to speak at industry meetings.
* Build your relationship regularly.
* Invite your member of Congress and staff to your property for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
* Involve yourself in the member's election campaign by providing strategic advice, volunteer help, and financial support.
* Stay in touch with senior Congressional staff such as administrative assistants, chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and state or district directors even when you don't have an issue, to be helpful if the need arises.
* Maintain two-way communication.
* Call in or email the results of your meetings and other significant communications to NAA/NMHC.
* Highlight the reaction of the member of Congress and staff to the issues you raise. Indicate whether any follow-up is needed in Washington D.C.
* The 2000 election year is an opportunity for the apartment industry to strengthen its voice on Capitol Hill by strengthening its relationships with members of Congress at home. By investing effort into at-home grassroots activities this year, the industry can enjoy the dividends of better Congressional relationships when it most needs them.
Tentative 2000 Congressional Schedule 1/24 106th Congress, Second Session Convenes 1/27 State of the Union Address 2/5 House Republican/Democratic Party Caucus Retreats 2/21 President's Day Recess 4/20 Passover/Easter Recess Week of 5/29 Memorial Day Recess 7/1 Fourth of July Recess 7/31-9/5 Summer Recess 10/6 Target Adjournment
Units welcome your comments on this article. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org; fax to 703/518-6191; or write Units, 201 N. Union St., #200, Alexandria, VA 22314.
Eileen Lee Eileen C. Lee, Ph.D., is Vice President of Environment for the National Multi Housing Council with principal responsibility for environmental issues. During her eight-year tenure working with Congress, Eileen served as Staff Director of the Environment Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives. She received her Ph.D. in microbiology from The Catholic University of America.