DC sues landlord who failed to remove lead paint from property

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D.C. is suing a landlord who it says ignored orders to remove lead-based paint hazards from a property.

The D.C. attorney general’s office said in a news release that Starkoda C. Plummer, who owns an apartment building in Ward 7, endangered the health and safety of her tenants by failing to remove or contain lead-based paint found in the units at 3911 R St. SE.

Plummer ignored repeated attempts by the city to remove the toxic substance and failed to pay the ordered penalties, the news release said.

“This irresponsible landlord ignored District law and endangered families by exposing them to toxic lead for far too long,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “The Office of the Attorney General will use its enforcement authority to hold property owners accountable if they fail to live up to their obligation to provide safe, lead-free housing to their tenants.”

D.C.’s Lead Hazard Prevention and Elimination Act requires all multifamily properties built before 1978 to be free of lead-based paint hazard. The two-story, multi-tenant unit was constructed before 1978.

The District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) first inspected the property in September 2017, after receiving an anonymous complaint regarding peeling and chipping paint on the exterior.

DOEE presumed that the unit posed a lead-based paint hazard based on the condition and age of the property.

It issued an order in October 2017 to eliminate the hazard and reimburse DOEE for inspection costs.

DOEE then issued an enforcement notice in December 2017, after Plummer failed to provide proof that she had complied with the order.

She met with DOEE inspectors in January 2018, where she was provided with compliance assistance. She said that she did not have the financial resources to remove the lead-based paint hazards.

Plummer’s fines total nearly $10,000 without interest, the D.C. attorney general’s office said.

Court documents show that Plummer failed to respond to further legal orders and notices.

In April 2018, DOEE received another complaint from a tenant who requested an inspection of a unit.

Investigators tested for and found lead-based paint in the unit, Plummer once again failed to respond and comply to ensuing orders to remove or contain the paint.

The D.C. attorney general’s office said that as of June 2019, Plummer has not taken action to remove or contain lead paint found on the property.

It is seeking a court order to force Plummer to properly eliminate the hazards at the property, reimburse DOEE, and pay penalties for each day the hazard has not been fixed.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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