City settles with four landlords over child lead exposure 

Penalties add up to nearly $500K

Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams (Getty)

The city said it has settled thousands of violations tied to four New York City landlords in a push to rid apartments of dangers like lead exposure.

Landlords Ken Nasab, David Kleiner, Steven Finkelstein and Bashkim Celaj — who each own and manage between 800 and 2,500 apartments — paid a combined $500,000 in the settlement, which the city targeted as an action to protect young residents from health and safety threats. 

“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. 

Nearly 3,500 health and safety violations in over 5,000 apartments had been rectified as part of an agreement with the four major property owners and their companies, the city said.

The announcement from the mayor’s office comes one day before a Committee on Housing and Buildings meeting is slated to weight a slew of bills focusing on lead exposure. Each bill’s prime sponsor is Diana Ayala, who serves East Harlem and several parts of the Bronx. 

After discovering significant health and safety violations in these apartments — including hundreds related to lead-based paint — the city said it entered into settlements with the landlords that led to civil penalties over three months last year. It then compelled property owners to resolve all outstanding violations, and forced compliance with Local Law 1, the New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act.

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The law requires that residential building owners make address and prevent lead-based paint exposure.

Requirements include the testing for and abatement of lead-based paint each time the unit is turned over, annually resolving if and where children under six years old live in a building and lead-based paint abatement or remediation in units where children younger than six spend at least 10 hours per week.

But the repercussions didn’t stop at the stiff fines.

For the next three years, each property owner must comply with the law’s requirements for annual and lease notices, annual investigations, remediation and abatement, x-ray fluorescence analyzer testing, apartment turnovers, and turnover remediation.

If the landlords fail to comply with their agreements, they will face legal action seeking court-ordered repairs and imposing tens of millions of dollars in additional penalties.

Under Adams, the city said it has invested nearly $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.

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