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Mayor Adams Announces Successful Enforcement Action Against Four Landlords to Protect Children From Lead

August 1, 2023

Nearly 3,500 Health and Safety Violations in More Than 5,000 Apartments Already Fixed as Part of Comprehensive Settlement, Providing Safe, High-Quality Homes

Agreement Also Includes Nearly $500,000 in Penalties for Violations

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced that thousands of health and safety violations in more than 5,000 apartments have been successfully corrected as part of a sweeping agreement between the city and four major property owners and their companies. After finding substantial health and safety violations in these apartments — including hundreds related to lead-based paint — the city over three months in early 2022 entered into comprehensive agreements with their property owners that imposed nearly $500,000 in civil penalties, compelled property owners to resolve all outstanding violations, and forced compliance with Local Law 1 of 2004 — the New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. Nearly 3,500 violations have already been corrected to date, and all four property owners must continue to demonstrate compliance with health and safety requirements for the next three years.

“Safe, high-quality, affordable housing for New Yorkers has been a north star for this administration, and that’s why we are cracking down on those who are putting our children at risk of lead exposure,” said Mayor Adams. “Because of this settlement, thousands of violations have been fixed, meaningful penalties have been paid, and our city’s apartments are now safer and healthier for our youngest New Yorkers. We are sending a clear message across the entire city: If you are a landlord who doesn’t take your lead paint obligations seriously, we will hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This administration’s housing vision centers on improving the health and safety of New Yorkers, and the city’s pursuit of these settlements is one more sign of our progress in providing New Yorkers with safe housing,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “This historic settlement is also yet more proof that New York City is a leader in preventing lead poisoning and protecting our youngest.”

“Every day, we work to provide individuals, children, and families with pathways to opportunity and act to protect public health. Those two go hand in hand, and the progress announced today builds on the city’s broader strategy to protect every New Yorker from the risks of lead paint,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “This progress will allow New Yorkers to focus on everyday tasks, like taking their kids to school, working with their colleagues, or visiting friends and family — with the peace of mind that their environments have been evaluated and are safe and healthy. The Adams administration will continue to execute on our plan to protect New Yorkers from the hazards of lead and will hold parties accountable at every step along the way.”

“Although lead-based paint was banned in New York City in 1960, older buildings with peeling paint continue to pose a threat to children in this city,” said City Hall Chief Counsel Brendan McGuire. “This administration is committed to keeping children safe from the health hazards of ingesting lead-based paint. When landlords fail to take required steps to remediate peeling lead paint, this administration will always hold them responsible.”

“People have the right to living spaces free of lead dust and chipping lead paint, especially children who are most vulnerable to this dangerous toxin,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix. “Local law requires that landlords protect their tenants from lead in the home by complying with comprehensive safeguards, such as annual notices to track the presence of young residents, annual inspections for lead-based paint hazards, abatement, and remediation. The Law Department, along with the coalition of city agencies monitoring these landlords, will use every legal tool at its disposal to bring these landlords into compliance.”

“Peeling lead paint in a child’s home creates a well-known risk for their growth and development, and property owners in New York City are responsible for maintaining their buildings to eliminate lead paint exposure,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “The city has made great strides in reducing hazards posed by lead-based paint, and we need to make sure property owners continue to take responsibility to protect tenants. Thank you to our sister agencies for sharing our commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of our children.”

“Today’s announcement sends a clear message that we are committed to protecting children from the dangers of lead exposure. This new cross-agency enforcement strategy strengthens our ongoing efforts to ensure that landlords comply with their responsibility to protect our children,” said New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “The work of HPD’s inspectors, lead-based paint administrative staff, environmental hazards staff, and housing attorneys set the groundwork for this strong collaboration, and so I thank them all for the work they do every day.”

These agreements with owners of four large portfolios of residential buildings — covering 5,147 apartments in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx — require the owners to promptly bring their properties into compliance with Local Law 1 and other applicable laws and codes, in addition to paying a total of $473,500 in civil penalties for past code violations of Local Law 1. Violations include failure to remediate peeling lead paint, failure to comply with annual notice and annual investigation requirements, failure to abate lead-based paint upon tenant turnover, and failure to comply with recordkeeping requirements.
The following penalties have been paid in full by the landlords:

  • Ken Nasab: owns and manages more than 882 apartments, $98,000
  • David Kleiner: owns and manages more than 748 apartments, $112,000
  • Steven Finkelstein: owns and manages more than 1,043 apartments, $98,000
  • Bashkim Celaj: owns and manages more than 2,474 apartments, $165,500

Additionally, every year for the next three years, all four property owners must demonstrate ongoing compliance with all Local Law 1 requirements related to annual and lease notices, annual investigations, remediation and abatement, x-ray fluorescence analyzer testing, apartment turnovers, and turnover remediation.

Should the property owners fail to comply with their agreements, they would face legal action seeking court-ordered repairs and the imposition of as much as tens of millions of dollars in additional penalties.

These enforcement actions build on the Adams administration’s progress in the fight against lead exposure, outlined in the “Taking the Lead on Lead” report released earlier this year. Under the city’s new strategy, the city is investing $1.4 billion in capital funds for lead paint abatement, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is testing more than 70,000 apartments under New York City’s new, more protective threshold. For New Yorkers in private homes, HPD has expanded the application of Local Law 1 to include rental units in one- and two-family homes, as well as apartments where children under 6-years-old spend more than 10 hours per week (as opposed to just locations where they reside). The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has additionally completed a pilot program to replace 600 privately-owned lead service lines — which connect houses to the city’s water main in the street — for low-income homeowners at no cost to them. Based on that pilot, DEP has submitted federal grant applications for several millions of dollars, which would allow DEP to dramatically expand these free replacements in communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Local Law 1 mandates that residential building owners take proactive steps to prevent lead-based paint exposure. Requirements include testing for and abating lead-based paint at unit turnover, annually determining whether and where children under 6-years-old live in a building, and lead-based paint abatement or remediation in units where children under 6-years-old spend at least 10 hours per week. More information about landlord and tenant requirements under Local Law 1 and about how to protect families from lead exposure is available by calling 311 or visiting the city’s Lead Free NYC page.

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