Syracuse landlord shut down for lead paint violations, must pay $215k in deal with AG

New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced an agreement resolving her lawsuit against Syracuse landlord John Kiggins and his company, Endzone Properties, Inc. for failing to protect children from lead paint hazards in Syracuse.

The attorney general’s lawsuit, filed in October 2021, alleged that Kiggins and Endzone endangered the health of its tenants, a majority of them children, by repeatedly violating lead paint laws and failing to properly address the hazards.

As a result, at least 18 children living at 17 different properties owned or managed by Endzone Properties experienced lead poisoning.

The agreement, negotiated in partnership with Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse, permanently bans Kiggins and Endzone Properties from managing or owning residential rental properties in New York.

The agreement also requires Kiggins and his company to pay $215,000 which will be used to prevent the exposure of children to lead paint in Syracuse and Onondaga County as well as to aid the families affected by lead poisoning.

“Lead paint exposure is a dangerous scourge on New York’s communities that disproportionately impacts our Black and brown children,” said Attorney General James. “All too often unprincipled landlords like Endzone disregard their duty to ensure their properties are free of lead hazards and its harms. I am holding Endzone fully accountable for their deplorable and illegal actions, and I will continue to use the full force of my office to uphold the laws that protect our children from lead poisoning.”

In 2020, an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that over six years, at least 18 children were poisoned by lead paint while living in 17 of Endzone’s estimated 89 properties.

During that time, at least 31 properties owned by Endzone were flagged by the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County for chipping, peeling, deteriorating paint, and other conditions conductive to lead poisoning, which are prohibited by county and city laws.

The OAG also found that Kiggins and his company engaged in repeated illegal and fraudulent acts by either not providing federally required lead disclosures or providing false and deceptive lead disclosures to tenants.

Endzone has sold all of the properties it once owned and managed and they are now under new management.

All of the violations found in the OAG’s investigation, as well as those flagged by the city and county, have been resolved in the properties that are currently occupied.

Lead paint in residential housing has been a pervasive problem for decades, particularly in New York as lead paint has been found in about 43% of New York residences although they banned the use of lead paint in 1970.

Lead poisoning in Onondaga County occurs predominantly in Syracuse and disproportionately harms low-income communities and communities of color.

The OAG will continue to work with the city and county as well as other local partners to continue making progress in combatting childhood lead poisoning in the community.

“Addressing the issue of lead in our community is one that my administration has made a top priority,” said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. “Whether it be our local executive order that withholds rent payments to landlords knowingly exposing their tenants to lead or investing millions of dollars in lead remediation just in 2022, Onondaga County is fully committed to solving the lead issue plaguing our community.”

“The message is clear: Landlords who repeatedly put children and families at risk of lead poisoning are not welcome in the City of Syracuse,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.