Attorney General James Sues Buffalo Landlord for Failing to Properly Address Lead-Based Paint Hazards

Farhad Raiszadeh Repeatedly and Persistently Violated Lead Safety Laws and Numerous Children Suffered Lead Poisoning from Unsafe Housing

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today filed a lawsuit against Buffalo landlord Farhad Raiszadeh, his wife Shohre Zahedi, and their companies (Raiszadeh Group) for repeated and flagrant violations of lead safety laws at dozens of properties in East Buffalo. The Raiszadeh Group currently owns 75 properties and 47 of them — more than half — have been cited for lead paint hazard violations, and at least 16 children have been diagnosed with lead poisoning while living in those properties. In the complaint filed today, Attorney General James seeks to require the Raiszadeh Group to pay substantial penalties and restitution to the impacted families and disgorge all ill-gotten profits, such as rent payments, totaling potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. She is also seeking an order to stop the Raiszadeh Group’s harmful housing practices and require them to inspect every unit for lead hazards on a regular basis; swiftly remediate all lead exposure risks in a safe manner; and provide tenants with legal and accurate lead disclosures.  

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. 

“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.” 

Buffalo suffers some of the nation’s highest rates of childhood lead exposure. The health impacts of lead paint in rental housing are particularly acute in East Buffalo. Children who live in communities of color are 12 times as likely than children who live in predominately white neighborhoods to be diagnosed with an elevated blood lead level. Tens of thousands of rental homes in Buffalo constructed prior to 1978 contain lead paint, but when these properties are properly managed and maintained, lead poisoning can be prevented. Elevated blood lead levels are also more prevalent in Buffalo’s low-income neighborhoods than they are in high-income neighborhoods. 

The Raiszadeh Group repeatedly and persistently failed to appropriately prevent and mitigate lead-based paint hazards in their buildings, despite receiving dozens of citations. From 2008 to the present, 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 managed the Raiszadeh Group properties from their permanent residence in California, thousands of miles away from Buffalo. 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 couple and their companies 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. The complaint alleges that by failing to prevent and properly remedy these hazards, 16 children suffered lead poisoning living in Raiszadeh Group properties.  

With this lawsuit, Attorney General James seeks penalties of up to $5,000 for every false or misleading lead disclosure the Raiszadeh Group provided to tenants over the years and full disgorgement of all ill-gotten profits, such as rent payments received, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

Attorney General James also aims to secure robust injunctive relief to swiftly identify and eliminate lead paint hazards at all Raiszadeh Group properties. Attorney General James seeks an order requiring the Raiszadeh Group 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. 

Attorney General James thanks Erie County and the City of Buffalo for their close collaboration and partnership on this matter.  

“Repeated, flagrant violations of safe housing laws have resulted in this legal action, and I thank Attorney General James for bringing it. This landlord was well aware of the danger he was placing his tenants in and had been advised to remediate his properties numerous times by the Department of Health,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “There is no excuse for his failure to do so and it is reprehensible that he willfully allowed these dangerous conditions to continue. The law exists to protect tenants and punish wrongdoers, and now this landlord will experience the consequences of his actions.” 

“The City of Buffalo’s Department of Permit and Inspection Services, like other municipalities, has legal enforcement limitations in holding out of town slumlords accountable for exploiting and endangering our residents,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. “Slumlords use sophisticated business structures to evade city codes and laws that would force property owners to provide safe and suitable housing. I am thankful for the continued support of Attorney General James’ Office to bring these bad actors to justice and keep our residents safe.”  

“New Yorkers are fortunate to have Letitia James as our Attorney General, because she understands the menace that lead poisoning poses to future generations and she is committed to using the full powers of her office to hold those who would poison our children accountable,” said Erie County Legislature Chair April N. M. Baskin. “The Attorney General’s efforts have advanced lead programming for residents across the state and held landlords who opt out of the county’s resources accountable for their neglect. Lead poisoning is irreversible brain damage that has disproportionately impacted transient, low-income households in Erie County. It impacts children’s academic success and behavioral development and condemns them to adulthood where they must rely on the county’s social services or worse, our criminal justice system. Attorney General James not only ensures the funds from these suits provide for more combative lead programming, but she's setting a high standard for accountability to quality and fair housing for all." 

Today’s complaint is the latest in Attorney General James’ efforts to hold landlords and property managers accountable for violating childhood lead poisoning prevention laws in New York. In November 2022, Attorney General James secured $5.1 million in restitution and penalties to fund ongoing childhood lead poisoning prevention programs administered by the City of Buffalo and Erie County, as a result of a September 2020 lawsuit against a group of individuals and companies in the Buffalo region for illegally allowing lead paint-related hazards to proliferate in their rental properties. In June 2022, Attorney General James shut down landlord John Kiggins and his company, Endzone Properties, Inc., for repeatedly violating lead paint laws and failing to address lead paint hazards, which resulted in the lead poisoning of 18 children living in Endzone properties in Syracuse. In March 2022, the Attorney General led a multistate coalition in calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen protections against lead poisoning, particularly for children living in low-income communities and communities of color. In September 2021, Attorney General James announced an agreement in her lawsuit against Chestnut Holdings of New York, Inc., a property management corporation, over its failures to protect children from lead paint hazards in New York City. Also in September 2021, Attorney General James reached a pre-suit agreement with A&E Real Estate Holdings, LLC to ensure that children living in its New York City apartments are protected from dangerous lead-based paint. 

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Patrick Omilian and Special Counsel Stephen Nagle of the Environmental Protection Bureau, with support from Assistant Attorneys General Brendan McGrath and Ashley Gregor, Environmental Scientist Jennifer Nalbone, and Program Assistant Isabel Murphy under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. Additional assistance was provided by Investigators Shawn McCormick and Jennifer Terranova of the Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes. The Environmental Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.