Court upholds ruling for landlord who was targeted in former tenant's 'frivolous' lead paint lawsuit

By Charmaine Little | Feb 21, 2019

PHILADELPHIA — The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia Count has ruled for a property company that was facing a lawsuit from a former tenant seeking a rent refund based on a city's lead ordinance.

Monique Houston sued her former landlord, Analaris Homes LLC, roughly six months after she moved out at the close of her one-year lease. She cited the Philadelphia Lead Paint Disclosure Ordinance, which requires lessors to provide certifications that dwellings built before 1978 are lead-free or lead-safe for children under 6, in filing a lawsuit for a refund on $10,650 in rent, plus damages and any other additional compensation.

Justice Lisa Rau said Houston never told her lessor she had three children living with her, including a young child. 

The court said she also never expressed any issues about her young child being exposed to lead. The court called her out for filing what it said was a frivolous lawsuit, pointed out that the purpose of the ordinance wasn’t for cases such as this and affirmed its original verdict in favor of Analaris Homes. 

“Permitting such a frivolous claim would permit former lessees to game the system and would do nothing to further City Council’s objective to prevent the scourge of childhood lead poisoning,” the court said in its opinion, which was issued Jan. 30. 

“In addition to granting a directed verdict, this court found based on the credibility of the evidence presented that appellate failed to prove her claim. Ultimately, the court didn’t want to allow a public health ordinance to be misused by a former tenant hoping to get payback from a previous landlord."

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