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Landlord acting as own lead-paint inspector an ‘obvious’ conflict, lawyer says

We reported Monday on the Baltimore County landlord who also happened to do his own lead paint inspections — at least according to charges detailed by the state attorney general’s office.

James R. Lerch’s dual job titles raised the eyebrows of at least one seasoned lead-paint attorney.

“It is unusual and it’s an obvious conflict,” said Brian Brown, managing member of Brown & Barron LLC in Baltimore. “The legislature would not appreciate that someone is inspecting their own properties.”

Brown said he has never seen a landlord act as his or her own lead-paint inspector, comparing it to a CFO conducting an “independent audit” of his or her own company.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Brown said.

Lerch, an accredited lead-paint inspector, is accused of signing off on certificates for a Towson rental property he owns and then filing the certificates with Baltimore County District Court and the county’s Rental Housing Registration Division, according to the attorney general’s office.

Lerch was charged with one count of deceptive trade practices; one count of reckless endangerment, three counts of issuing a false lead-paint certificate; three counts of submitting a false lead-paint certificate; and three counts each of regulation violations related to lead-paint inspections.

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