Landlord faces charges over high lead levels

Mar 26, 2019

The first ever arrest for violating the public health law has been made in Erie County. A Buffalo landlord has been charged after allegedly renting a home with high lead levels.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn issues a warning to landlords during a press conference in the DA's Office on Tuesday.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

District Attorney John Flynn says Maxim Levin, 41, of Amherst was arrested after allegedly renting a home at 451 Fargo Avenue in Buffalo, despite being notified for several years that two young children in the home had elevated blood lead levels.

Flynn says Levin also ignored a Health Department "Do Not Occupy" notice posted on the home's front door.   
"Let landlords beware that if you have a apartment, if you have a house, if you have a facility that you are renting out, and you have conditions in there that cause elevated lead levels, you'll be prosecuted," Flynn said.  

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said there is no safe level of lead for children.

"So enforcement actions, like the one seen in Buffalo City Court today, are a tool that the Erie County Health Department can use to create consequences for property owners who repeatedly fail to comply with basic housing standards and who are choosing to put our children's health at risk instead," Burstein said.

A small amount of the toxic metal can cause lower IQ, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. High lead levels are often found in older buildings because it was a common ingredient in paint up until 1978.

Flynn says if convicted, Levin faces up to a year in jail.