WASHINGTON, DC (STL.News) Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced that a DC-based real estate developer will be required to pay $400,000 in penalties and increase its health and safety protocols for violating District laws protecting residents from toxic lead and for deceiving homebuyers about potential lead paint hazards.
Today’s settlement resolves an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) that determined Mohammad Y. Sikder and several of his companies, including District-Properties.com, LLC, renovated at least 26 older homes across DC without taking legally required precautions to protect against possible lead exposure and environmental contamination. OAG also found that Sikder falsely informed homebuyers that no lead paint was present in their homes, despite knowing that toxic lead paint could be present because of when the homes were constructed. In addition to paying a penalty, Sikder will be required to implement procedures ensuring compliance with the District’s lead laws and consumer protection laws.
“Because lead is so toxic—especially to children—it is critical that developers take legally-required precautions when renovating older homes and provide complete information to homebuyers,” said AG Racine. “If individuals or businesses violate the District’s lead laws, the Office of the Attorney General will hold them accountable. Every homebuyer is entitled to truthful information, and no parent should have to worry about unknown dangers in their home that could hurt their child.”
Mohammad Y. Sikder is a real estate developer operating in the District. Through companies including Rupsha 2006 LLC, Rupsha 2007 LLC, Rupsha 2008 LLC, Rupsha 2011 LLC, Rupsha 2012 Inc., Rupsha 2013 Inc., District-Properties.com, Inc., and 52nd St. Development Inc., Sikder buys, renovates, re-sells, and rents homes in the District.
Lead is a toxic metal that, when ingested, can cause painful physical symptoms and long-term health issues including organ and brain damage. Lead is especially dangerous to young children. To protect residents from lead exposure, the District’s Lead Hazard Prevention and Elimination Act (LHPEA) places safe maintenance and renovation requirements on buildings constructed before 1978, when the federal government banned consumer use of lead paint. OAG enforces the LHPEA and other District laws protecting residents from harm, including the Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which outlaws a wide variety of deceptive and unfair business practices.
In 2019, Sikder and District-Properties, LLC, pleaded guilty to criminal violations of federal lead-based paint laws in an action brought by the United States. As a result of the criminal action, Sikder served two months in prison, paid a $50,000 fine, and was required to complete 300 hours of community service. District-Properties.com LLC paid a $150,000 fine and hosted three seminars on lead paint regulations.
Following Sikder’s federal criminal conviction, OAG opened an investigation into his companies’ potential violations of District law. OAG found that for at least a decade, Sikder and his corporate entities failed to ensure that renovations to at least 26 homes were performed by workers trained and certified to handle lead paint hazards as required by law. They also repeatedly made false statements to District government to avoid regulatory oversight and failed to provide required disclosures to homebuyers that lead paint could be present in homes built before 1978.
As part of a settlement with OAG, Sikder and his corporate entities will be required to:
Pay $400,000 in civil penalties: Sikder will be required to pay a penalty of $400,000 for repeatedly violating District law, and if he or his companies fail to comply with any settlement terms, they will be required to pay additional penalties.
Provide accurate information about the presence of lead-based paint: Sikder and his companies must provide accurate information about the year homes were built and the presence of lead-based paint in homes to purchasers, tenants, and District employees and officials.
Comply with District construction, renovation, environmental, and consumer protection laws: Sikder and his corporate entities must ensure all employees and contractors performing renovations on homes built before 1978 have legally required certification and training. They must also implement adequate soil erosion and sediment control measures to prevent the discharge of pollutants off-site.
A copy of OAG’s legal complaint against Sikder is available here.
A copy of the consent judgment resolving DC’s lawsuit against Sikder is available here.