The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas recently heard the case of Houston v. Analaris Homes, 161101449. The case sheds light on topical issues surrounding the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure and Certification law (PLDCL). Section 6-809 of the Philadelphia Code governs the PLDCL.
Litigation arises with respect to the PLDCL’s obligations imposed on landlords. Per the Law, any landlord who rents a property built before 1978 must certify the property is lead safe before renting said property to an individual with children aged six (6) or younger.
If the Landlord does not adhere to the PLDCL, he may be liable for attorneys fees, back rent paid, exemplary damages totaling $2,000.00 and other costs. Several aggressive Philadelphia personal injury firms have initiated lawsuits against landlords for noncompliance of the PLDCL. In many such cases, there are no damages. No one has been injured or is suffering lead contamination. The suit is based solely on failure to comply with the Code.
In Houston, the Phila. Court held that the PLDCL does not apply to tenants who have vacated the property. In that case, Monique Houston rented a single-dwelling home in Philadelphia, PA. The home was built before 1978. The Plaintiff did not acknowledge that she had a son under age six when she applied for the property. The Plaintiff vacated the property and then initiated a lawsuit against her former landlord for noncompliance with the PLDCL.
The Court held that Plaintiff Houston was not a lessee at initiation of the lawsuit. Since the lessor-lessee relationship had been terminated, the court granted a directed verdict to the Defendant. According to the presiding judge, the PLDCL “does not include any provision to permit some retroactive ability to sue by former lessees.”
The Houston decision is a solid win for landlords in Philadelphia, PA. The decision significant contracts the parties who may sue under the PLDCL. If the decision remains good law, tenants who vacate a residential property lose their right to sue landlords under the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law. For more information on the law, or to speak with an attorney, contact Mark D. Copoulos, Esquire at 267-535-9776.