Man could be evicted from historic home due to lead paint

Posted at 5:23 PM, Dec 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-07 19:23:55-05

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    Wickliffe, OH (WEWS) — Homeowners know some big repair bills come with the territory when they buy a house.

But the fight for Roger Tetzlaff to satisfy state standards for his Wickliffe home is taking a lot of time and money many homeowners don’t have.

The “Old Mosher Farmhouse,” as it’s called in it’s Facebook group, looks nearly the same way it did when it was build in the mid-1800s.

“I am a big fan of taking something old and taking care of it,” said Tetzlaff.

That’s why he bought the historic home, knowing there was almost certainly some lead-based paint on the walls. His headache started when an infant family member stayed in the house just a few times in 2017 and showed elevated lead levels months later.

“[That] triggered a state investigation by the [Ohio] Department of Health,” said Tetzlaff.

Tetzlaff says he’s not sure his home is to blame, but once state testers found old lead-based paint below the more modern paint in his home, they gave him an order to control lead hazards. The order gives homeowners 90 days to fix the problems before the state will keep him out of his own house.

The next step was to find an Ohio Licensed Lead Professional from a list of approved contractors provided by the state.

“We spent about two days calling between 50 and 60 names on the list,” said Tetzlaff.

He struggles to find a qualified contractor to do the work and experts tell us they’re not surprised.

Another contractor licensed to do lead abatement work tells News 5 most projects are funded by a city or county or where grant money guarantees the contractor will get paid.

Tetzlaff doesn’t qualify for any assistance, so he’s racked up more than $17,000 worth of bills just in 2018, out of his own pocket, under the threat of eviction if the work isn’t done and doesn’t pass inspection.

“You need to do work, pay for testing, provide evidence to go throughout that appeal process which makes it, for a private homeowner, a very difficult process to manage,” said Tetzlaff. “I feel that there could be some good modifications to the law to make this easier for independent homeowners to manage the abatement.”

Work is still going on inside the home, and Tetzlaff’s first 90-day extension is about to expire. He’s in the process of filing the paperwork for a second extension.

The Ohio Department of Health tells News 5 they’ll grant three 90-day extensions before ordering someone to leave a home, allowing for roughly a year to fix all the problems and get it inspected and approved by the state.

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