City of Cleveland files 100 Affidavits of Fact to put property owners with lead hazards on notice

Thursday, Apr 20, 2023

Thursday, April 20, 2023 – Cleveland – On Wednesday, the Bibb administration began filing Affidavits of Fact on placarded properties at the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office, placing 100 property owners with known lead paint hazards on notice. The Bibb Administration has taken this step to help protect children and families from the dangers of lead poisoning.  
For the first time in our city’s history, Cleveland has filed Affidavits of Fact to alert homebuyers of existing lead hazards on properties that have failed to comply with lead hazard control orders. The Affidavits will serve as a warning for prospective buyers when they conduct a title search and will remain on the public record until the toxic lead hazard is properly remediated.  
Mayor Justin M. Bibb announced the move during his second State of the City address on Wednesday evening, warning predatory property managers and landlords that the City is gearing up to use the full weight of the law to hold them accountable.  
“Earlier today, we began filing affidavits of lead hazard control orders that will be placed on property records with the county recorder's office. These Affidavits of Fact ensure that... properties under a lead hazard control order cannot be sold without the explicit knowledge that they are uninhabitable until the lead is properly abated,” Mayor Bibb stated. 
“We are putting property owners on notice to make sure houses get remediated, so no more children are lead poisoned. This is one tool we have to hold landlords accountable and protect homebuyers from the dangers of lead paint,” Mayor Bibb added today.     
The legal action announced last night is the first step toward driving more accountability to abate nuisance properties in the city. It comes ahead of plans to move forward with legislation later this year to enhance the City’s rental registration process and stiffen civil penalties for various nuisance violations.     
Currently, there are nearly 400 placarded properties in the city of Cleveland with existing lead hazard control orders, with some orders dating back to 2010. Before filing, each property is vetted to verify ownership and condition of the property. To date, the City has filed Affidavits of Fact on the first 100 properties on the list and is continuing with its due diligence before filing against the remaining properties.  
Reports and orders to abate hazards will remain on their property records until the orders are lifted by Cleveland’s Department of Public Health. 
This historic move to prevent property owners from getting around the law is the result of cross-department collaboration between the Cleveland departments of Public Health, Building & Housing, and Law working together with partners at Cuyahoga County. The Cuyahoga County Board of Health and Dr. Roderick Harris have been essential to the success of this effort.  
The joint initiative is one outcome from the administration's Lead Cabinet, led by Lead Senior Strategist Karen Dettmer last year to foster collaboration between departments and identify solutions to eradicate lead hazards in the city.  
“This is an example of what we can do when we work together to take action. Special thanks must go to our partners at Cuyahoga County for their leadership on this issue and assistance with filing these records. For too long, bad actors have been playing a game of hot potato with these properties. We hope to stop or slow the transfer of dangerous homes until they are properly addressed,” Dettmer said.   
The City will continue working with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Commissioner Harris and the County Fiscal Office’s Record and Transfer Department to file Affidavits of Fact on a rolling basis.