News & Culture in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Points Nearby
January 16, 2021
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News + Views

Lead Law Hurts Parents

By Lisa M. Collins

When my daughter was two, she tested positive for low levels of lead in her system. We decided to hire an environmental consultant to survey our rental apartment on Sackett Street, near Court, to tell us where the problems were. Our landlord’s agent urged us not to do so, and claimed he’d never heard of lead in Brooklyn brownstones. When we insisted, the landlord, who lived in Italy, told us she would not renew our lease.

We were outraged, most especially because we paid for all the lead abatement work and the inspector ourselves—it was a great apartment, the problems were fix-able, and we wanted to stay. Granted, the inspector had found lead in the back garden at levels 10 times the allowable amount for New York City playgrounds, and some highly-leaded doors and moldings. We could fix the interior, but there would be no more muddy outings in the yard, planting tomatoes and veggies and flowers.

I wrote a story for New York Magazine on the topic (published today).

So now, I’m glad we left. But back then, the stress and anger were, how shall I say, a major hindrance to the enjoyment of life. I know this problem has hit many parents around brownstone Brooklyn. In my opinion, the law needs to change so that it does more to protect parents who rent.

If you’ve had this experience and came out with a happy ending, or just want to vent, please comment here. For the parents who are undergoing this situation–a battle with landlords over lead—nothing is more stressful. At least you should know, you are not alone.


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