NYC Health Department Temporarily Shuts Down Landlord's Renovation Project For Allegedly Exposing Tenants To Lead-Contaminated Dust
- A landlord failed to protect tenants from hazardous, lead-contaminated dust kicked up from renovation work inside two First Avenue buildings and was ordered by the city's health department to stop all construction, according to officials.(1)
Slate Property Group — the same landlord behind the controversial purchase of the Lower East Side's Rivington House nursing center — is under fire again for exposing tenants at two other buildings it owns to hazardous amounts of dust containing lead, according to the city DOH spokeswoman Carolina Rodriguez.
The health department ordered for all work to stop at 1288 and 1290 First Ave. on Jan. 31 for the dangerous conditions stemming from ongoing renovations inside the buildings where residents, including seniors, continue to live, according to the agency.
"We recently identified lead dust hazards in these buildings and ordered the owner to cease work and address these conditions," Rodriguez said.
"The agency will perform follow up inspections to confirm that construction dust has been appropriately cleaned up at the properties."
A spokesman for Slate, who asked not to be named, said  that Slate was unaware of any lead in the building but stopped work immediately in compliance with the health department's order.
Slate has submitted new dust samples to the health department, which is required to lift the stop work order, but Rodriguez said it was too early to tell if they came back clean.
Slate purchased the two properties in April 2016, and at the time bought out some tenants in the building and started doing renovation work in the units, which involved removing paint containing lead from walls in the hallways, according to tenants.
In the process the landlord failed to contain the toxic dust from spreading in the air, and are forcing residents to live with paint-stripped walls and unfettered wires dangling from the ceilings, the tenants said.
"They're breaking holes all over the hallways, releasing lead, asbestos and other substances in and outside of the building," said resident Julio Castro, a 58-year-old licensed Environmental Protection Agency risk assessor and asbestos investigator.
Castro, who's lived at 1290 First Ave. since he was three years old, was among a dozen other residents who joined Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright at a press conference last week to denounce Slate's negligence.
In addition to the dust, the renovation work has caused electricity and water to go out frequently with no notice, according to Castro, who lives in a third-floor apartment with his wife and his 10-year-old daughter.
Since Slate took over their buildings last spring, families have had to live without heat every night from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., he said.
"There's a lack of heat, interruptions in our water, electricity, and janitorial services," Castro said. "We've had a great decrease in essential services and space."
Resident Thomas Leonard said he's complained to the landlord about water chronically leaking into his apartment due to a plumbing issue upstairs, but has so far been ignored.
"I'm living in unlivable circumstances, what I would call squalor, and they don't give a darn," he said.
The two buildings at 1288 and 1290 First Ave. share a lot with 403 E. 69th St. and are all owned by Slate. The Department of Buildings separately issued the third address with a stop work order for doing renovation work without proper permits and for "failing to safeguard the site," according to Andrew Rudansky, a spokesman for the Department of Buildings.
Go here for links to examples of landlords getting hammered by the EPA for tripping over the federal lead paint rules, and here to file a complaint reporting violations with EPA. lead paint