Mayor Announces Successful Enforcement Action and Agreement with Four Landlords Over Lead Safety Violations

Mayor Eric Adams. Photo Credit:

On August 1, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams announced the successful enforcement against safety violations found in over 5,000 apartments through an agreement between the city and four landlords that have resulted in almost $500,000 in civil penalties, and required the landlords to resolve all outstanding violations and comply with Local Law 1, the New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. 

Local Law 1 requires property owners to take proactive steps to prevent exposure to lead-based paint, including testing and abatement for lead paint at unit turnover, to determine where children under six live in the building, and to do abatement or remediation in units where children under six spend at least ten hours a week. In this instance, the four landlords combined had to correct almost 3,500 violations, including hundreds of violations related to lead-based paint.

The four landlords have paid the following penalties: Ken Nasab, with over 882 apartments, paid $98,000; David Kleiner, with over 748 apartments, paid $112,000; Steven Finkelstein, with over 1,043 apartments, paid $98,000; and Bashkim Celaj, with over 2,474 apartments, paid $165,000. 

For the next three years, all four owners must demonstrate ongoing compliance with Local Law 1 requirements including for annual and lease notices, remediation and abatement, apartment turnovers and turnover remediation. The owners would face legal action including court-ordered repairs and the possible issuance of tens of millions of dollars in additional penalties if they fail to comply with the agreements. The full agreements are linked in the press release and can be read here.

The announcement is the latest step in the city’s ongoing efforts to protect tenants, especially children, from lead-based paint in their homes. The Adams administration released a report, “Taking the Lead on Lead” earlier this year. The city is investing $1.4 billion in capital funds for lead paint abatement. The New York City Housing Authority is testing over 70,000 apartments after the city lowered the allowable threshold concentration of lead found in paint. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development expanded the application to include rental units in one- and two-family homes. Last month, the City Council passed two more bills to track objections made for lead violations and included lead found in common spaces in buildings with young children to also qualify for an immediately hazardous violation. The Department of Environmental Protection completed a pilot program to replace 600 privately-owned lead service lines connecting houses to the city’s water main for low-income homeowners at no cost to the owners. Following that pilot, the agency is seeking federal grants to expand these free replacements. 

Mayor Adams stated, “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. 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.”

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan stated, “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. 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.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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