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SAN FRANCISCO: Officials from the Los Angeles County Board of Real Estate (LACBOR), have criticized the recent court ruling on lead-based paint producers, saying it will have a knock-on effect.
LACBOR official and LA home owner, Warren J. Rohn, called Tuesday's ruling by Superior Court Judge, James Kleinberg as "draconian" and added that the ruling will have a far-reaching impact on home owners, sellers and real estate professionals, not just in LA but also across the state.
The ruling on Tuesday by Judge Kleinberg will see all pre-1978 dwellings declared as "public nuisances" because their interior surfaces may contain paint that include lead pigments.
The judge ordered that three paint firms should pay the state a total of $1.15 billion to aid the removal of such paints used in houses before it was banned nationwide.
The ruling is expected to affect 2.6 million Los Angeles homes and an estimated 5 million statewide, including homes in San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda Counties.
Rohn says that that the ruling now threatens to send home values into free-fall, causing a ripple effect caused by a decrease in vital programs supported by property taxes.
The LACBOR official, whose home was built in 1958, fears buyers will shun his and others homes if they puts them on the market due to the "public nuisance" label attached to their dwellings.
LACBOR president, Giuseppe Veneziano said: "This could precipitate the worst plunge in California home values since the housing crash of 2007". Adding: "I can see the ruling having frightening consequences".
The paint companies involved in Tuesday's ruling include ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin Williams. They are expected to appeal yesterday's ruling which marked the culmination of 13 years of legal wrangling. Two other co-defendants, Atlantic Richfield Co. and DuPont Co. were relieved of any liability.
The ruling only targets houses constructed pre-1978 becasue that was the year that the use of lead pigments in paint was banned in the United States as exposure to these pigments was deemed dangerous to people's health.
The lawsuit was filed to address public health dangers regarding children's exposure to lead-based paint, despite efforts by paint manufacturers dating back to the 1950s to voluntarily remove lead from interior paints following research that showed it posed a potential health risk.
But Giuseppe Veneziano says that the ruling leaves a host of unanswered and troubling questions about the fate of well-maintained homes with lead paint. He also asked what, if any, actions sellers of homes affected by the ruling, as well as potential home buyers, should now take.
"Imaging the disruption of inspectors fanning out to ascertain traces of lead in pre-1978 structures and then requiring the removal of that lead," he said.
"It will require occupants, possibly blocks at a time, to vacate and relocate until safety is restored to the satisfaction of authorities."
Kleinberg ordered $700 million of the $1.1 billion go toward repairs to poorly maintained properties and that $400 million be used to pay for inspectors to look for evidence of lead paint in pre-1978 homes.
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