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City Council Members Seek to Redefine "Reside" in Local Lead Paint Law

New York City's lead-based paint law (Local Law 1 [1982]) requires landlords to remove lead-based paint in any apartment unit in which a child under 6 years of age resides. The issue in Yaniveth R. v. LTD Realty Co. was whether a child "resides" in an apartment containing lead-based paint when the child does not live in the apartment but spends approximately 50 hours per week there with a caregiver. The child, who was found to have elevated blood lead level at the age of one lived with her parents but usually stayed with her maternal grandmother five days per week while her parents were at work and did so since she was three months old.

Defendants successfully argued that, under Local Law 1, they owed no duty to removed lead-based paint from the grandmother's apartment because the child did not "reside" there. The Supreme Court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint; the Appellate Division (First Dept.) unanimously affirmed. The Court of Appeals, in a 4-1 decision, affirmed and held that the lower courts properly dismissed the case because Yaniveth did not "reside" in her grandmother's apartment (and therefore, the landlord had no duty to remove lead based paint from the apartment). The Majority Opinion, written by Judge Eugene Pigott relied on principles of construction and various dictionary definitions of the term "reside" (noting that "[r]esidence implies something more than mere physical presence and something less than domicile.").

In response to the above, four Council Members are planning to redefine the term "reside" in New York City's lead-based paint law. On January 18, 2017, Council Members Daniel Dromm, Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Inez Barron and Robert Cornegy, Jr. jointly sponsored Introduction No. 1427. The bill seeks to amend ยง 27-2056.2 of the Administrative Code by adding a definition to the words "reside" and "residency" to the City's Lead Law. Specifically, the bill would define "reside" or "residency" as "being present in a dwelling unit for 15 or more hours in a typical week." The bill has been referred to the Council's Committee on Housing and Buildings, and a hearing on this will be held in the coming months.

The bill's prime sponsor, Council Member Dromm, was elected to the New York City Council in 2010, as the representative for District 25, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.

Yaniveth R., v. LTD Realty Co., 27 N.Y.3d 186 (N.Y. Apr. 5, 2016)

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