Jun 20


East Side landlord faces big fines

Farhad Raiszadeh was already being sued by the state attorney general for lead contamination in his Buffalo properties. The city is prosecuting him for a host of code violations, too.

Farhad Raiszadeh, left, with city building inspector Tracey Krug. Photo by I’Jaz Ja’ciel.

An East Side landlord being sued by the state attorney general for lead paint violations is also under the gun from city building inspectors — and it’s going to cost him.

The city is prosecuting 69-year-old Farhad Raiszadeh in Buffalo Housing Court for 125 code violations at 11 properties. 

Raiszadeh, who lives in San Diego, was in Housing Court earlier this month, when he was ordered by Judge Patrick Carney to pay the city $65,000, half of which will cover the costs of demolishing a house and two garages. He also owes $6,000 to Erie County for six of his properties.

The largest check Raiszadeh could be writing: $450,000.

That’s the amount he’ll need to have in escrow to bring his properties up to code per settlement discussions with Attorney General Letitia James, who cited Raiszadeh, his wife and their companies for failing to remediate lead hazards in 47 properties, officials said.

“We are working toward a settlement with the attorney general that’s going to involve over half a million dollars of work, and he has that money upfront to deal with it,” Parker MacKay, Raiszadeh’s attorney, told Investigative Post. 

Six of the 11 properties in Housing Court were also cited by the attorney general last year for lead hazards. 

The attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Investigative Post.

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Raiszadeh was an engineer before his foray into real estate, according to his attorney. He earned his doctorate in engineering from the University of California, Davis and worked as an engineer at Moog Inc. — an Elma-based manufacturer of aerospace products — while living in Buffalo from 2008 to 2010.

“He looks on paper like he’s some sort of distant landlord, but he began acquiring these properties when he lived here,” MacKay said. “They’re essentially his income.”

Carney told Raiszadeh that he owed “tens of thousands of dollars” in fines before sending him to talk to city inspectors about a plan to remediate the properties he has owned personally or through one of his corporations. Violations include chipping and peeling paint, deteriorated porch stairs, rodent infestations, faulty siding, fire damage, collapsed walls, and construction without a permit. 

Raiszadeh told city inspectors most of the 11 houses had been repaired or sold. Investigative Post searched city and county records and found the sale of only one of the properties — 88 Phyllis Ave., for which Housing Court currently has two cases. It was one of the 47 properties cited by the attorney general for lead paint hazards.

MacKay — who is representing Raiszadeh in the attorney general’s case, but not in complaints against him by the city and the county — said his client’s case isn’t much different from other landlords who get in over their heads by investing in properties that need a lot of work. 

“I found the common themes of some of these cases, it just becomes overwhelming,” he said.

1457 East Delavan, cited 34 times for housing code violations in the past two years.

Raiszadeh told Carney that he planned to sell more of his properties to pay his city fines. He asked if his charges from the city and the county could be rolled into the attorney general’s case, a request the judge denied.

“Whatever you have going on with the AG has nothing to do with why you’re here,” Carney told him.

Raiszadeh’s court appearance came over a year after the attorney general announced she was suing him, his wife, Shohre Zahedi, and their property groups for failing to remediate lead hazards in 47 of their 79 properties. Raiszadeh still owns 69 properties that include 80 units, MacKay said.

At least 16 children were diagnosed with lead poisoning while living in a house owned or managed by Raiszadeh and Zahedi, the lawsuit states.

Raiszadeh’s defense is that he was unaware of possible lead exposure in his properties and his attorney contended the children could have gotten lead poisoning prior to residing in one of his houses.

“Because a lot of the tenants are on Section 8, they’re often moving, so it’s difficult to keep track of who is in a property at one point in time,” MacKay told Investigative Post. “If somebody claims they were exposed to hazards, it’s difficult to tell that it occurred at any one specific property, given our housing stock.”

The houses cited by the city and the attorney general include three — 80 Crossman St., 47 Langmeyer St. and 71 Oakgrove St. — where children were found to have elevated blood lead levels, according to court documents.

Another Raiszadeh property in city court is 86 Burlington St., which was torn down in September 2022. The city is looking to recoup $29,000 in demolition fees from Raiszadeh. He purchased the property for $23,000 in 2017 from Shinyin Management LLC, a company related to a different group of landlords who are also being investigated by the attorney general.

The property was cited for 15 violations between 2017 and 2022, all relating to the structure’s exterior and issues with the house’s foundation. The house generated 48 calls to 311 beginning in 2014, most of which were housing-related complaints. The property, however, was not cited by the attorney general.

The city’s Department of Permits and Inspections is also seeking $300 for the demolition of two garages Raiszadeh owned elsewhere in the city.

Raiszadeh is due back in housing court Sept. 12. Meanwhile, the attorney general’s case against him is pending in Erie County Supreme Court.

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Raiszadeh’s anticipated settlement with the attorney general follows a $5.1 million judgment James obtained in November 2022 for lead-related charges against property owner Angel Elliot Dalfin. 

Investigative Post found that Raiszadeh purchased 49 of his properties from Dalfin. Children were found to have lead poisoning in a dozen of those properties while under the ownership of Raiszadeh or one of his companies, according to court papers.

MacKay said Raiszadeh may eventually look to retire after settling his court cases, but that he doesn’t plan on selling all of his properties yet. 

Unlike in the Dalfin case, the attorney general isn’t asking Raiszadeh to forgo his entire real estate portfolio, according to MacKay.. 

“The attorney general’s plan with this case is very different than some of the other ones, where they’re not looking to strip him of the properties,” MacKay said. 

“They understand that managing housing of this nature and this amount can get overwhelming. They want to make sure he does the work.”

Investigative Post

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