NY Landlord Sued for Lead Paint Hazards

THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2023


Earlier this week, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against a Buffalo landlord for “repeated and flagrant” violations of lead safety laws at dozens of properties.

According to the release, more than half of the 75 properties owned by Farhad Raiszadeh, his wife Shohre Zahedi, and their companies (Raiszadeh Group) have been cited for lead paint hazard violations. At least 16 children have reportedly been diagnosed with lead poisoning while living in these properties.

“In Buffalo and throughout New York, Black and brown children and their families disproportionately suffer the lifelong impacts of lead paint exposure,” said Attorney General James.

“We cannot allow landlords’ neglect to steal our children’s futures. We will hold the Raiszadeh Group accountable for their actions and will continue fighting to ensure all children are able to grow up in safe and healthy homes.” 

About the Lawsuit

Since 2008, the Raiszadeh Group has owned and managed at least 78 single- and two-family homes and one apartment building, primarily rented to low-income families of color in Buffalo.

Raiszadeh and Zahedi reportedly managed the Raiszadeh Group properties from their permanent residence in California. However, the Attorney General’s office notes that they have been managing these properties without the required property management license from the city and rented out the units without the required real estate broker’s licenses from the state.

The Group has “routinely” violated city, county, state, and federal laws by allowing lead paint to deteriorate, and further violated regulations dictating how to safely repair lead paint hazards and communicate risks to tenants. Since 2008, at least 49 of the Raiszadeh Group’s properties have been cited for chipping, peeling or otherwise deteriorating lead paint.

In the complaint filed on March 28, James reportedly seeks to require the Raiszadeh Group to pay penalties of up to $5,000 for every false or misleading lead disclosure provided to tenants, as well as restitution to the impacted families and return of all profits, including rent payment that potentially total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

She is also seeking an order to stop the Raiszadeh Group’s housing practices and require them to:

  • Regularly inspect rental units for lead hazards and remedy all areas of concern in a timely manner; 
  • Follow lead-safe work practices as set forth by the federal EPA and Erie County when conducting lead paint renovations;  
  • Provide tenants with accurate lead disclosures when required bylaw; and  
  • Hire an independent monitor to supervise and report to OAG on the defendants’ compliance. 

In addition to Raiszadeh and Zahedi, the Raiszadeh Group companies named in the lawsuit are Prime Heritage Homes, LLC, Premier Heritage Homes, LLC, Premium Heritage Homes, LLC, Maxinnova, Inc., and Maxinnova Defined Benefits Plan. Erie County and the City of Buffalo are co-plaintiffs in the action.

According to the Attorney General’s office, Buffalo holds one of the United States’ highest rates of childhood lead exposure, particularly acute in East Buffalo. Children who live in communities of color are also 12 times as likely than children who live in predominately white neighborhoods to be diagnosed with an elevated blood lead level.

Previous NY Lead Violations

In July last year, James announced an agreement involving a Syracuse, New York-based landlord and their company for failing to protect children from lead paint hazards.

The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Onondaga County in October 2021, alleged that John Kiggins and his company, Endzone Properties, Inc., endangered the health of their tenants by repeatedly violating lead paint laws and failing to mitigate the issues.

After being found guilty of the lead poisoning of 18 children, Kiggins and Endzone Properties were permanently banned from managing or owning residential rental properties in New York. The agreement was reportedly negotiated in partnership with Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse.

In addition, Kiggins and his company were required to pay $215,000. According to CNY Central, the money will be used to prevent the exposure of children to lead paint in Syracuse and Onondaga County and will also aid families affected by lead poisoning.

Since the agreement was announced, it was reported that all properties owned by Kiggins and Endzone Properties have been sold and are currently under new management. Reports add that all violations found in the OAG investigation, in addition to those flagged by city and county officials, have been resolved in the properties that are currently occupied.

The following month, in what was reported to be the largest amount ever sought from a landlord in a lead paint violation case in Western New York, the Attorney General’s Office requested over $5 million from Angel Elliot Dalfin.

The former landlord—who recently surrendered at the federal courthouse to face criminal charges related to lead paint violations—once owned and/or controlled 150 single- and two-family homes in Buffalo, New York, where 29 children reportedly suffered from lead poisoning.

According to court records, Dalfin operated using a web of 19 companies incorporated in the states of Wyoming, Maryland, Delaware and New York, where he shuffled the properties among them.

The price tag for these violations was determined by a combination of penalties, restitution and forfeited rent resulting from 126 instances of deceptive acts and practices that State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto found Dalfin and his entities engaged in.

At the end of October, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced that it had reached an agreement with landlord Jason Korn to correct multiple lead paint violations involving buildings located in Brooklyn.

According to reports, 285 residents’ homes were impacted because of 80 lead-based paint violations in six different locations throughout Brooklyn. The majority of the violations were for the failure to conduct proactive activities related to identifying or remediating any lead-based hazards, as well as failing to maintain detailed records of required activities from at least the past 10 years.

As a result of the violations, Korn has been ordered to pay $82,500 in civil penalties and to correct all the outstanding violations within 90 days of the order signing.

Then, in November, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office announced the arraignment of Carrie A. Preischel of Boston, New York, for exposing a tenant to unsafe levels of lead paint. According to Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, 40-year-old Preischel has been accused of renting property to a tenant while knowing that it was in violation of an order previously issued by the Erie County Department of Health.

After a public health sanitarian inspected the property, they found that lead levels within the residence were unsafe. Following multiple attempts at remediation work, the property still failed to meet compliance to be approved for occupancy and received a second notice in January 2021.

Despite the orders received to keep the property vacant, Preischel allegedly rented to another tenant, who then occupied the property through February 2022. If convicted of the charge, Preischel would face a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

   

Tagged categories: Coating Materials - Commercial; Environmental Controls; Good Technical Practice; Government; hazardous materials; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Inspection; Lawsuits; Lead; Lead; Lead Disclosure Rule; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Lead rule; NA; North America; Residential; Safety

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