County Sues White Oak Apartment Owners Over Housing Code Violations

County Sues White Oak Apartment Owners Over Housing Code Violations

Action against Enclave apartments claims dozens of problems have not been repaired

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Enclave apartments

Photo via Enclave

The county Department of Housing and Community Affairs is suing the owners of a White Oak apartment complex claiming they have failed to fix dozens of problems uncovered in an inspection that yielded more than 2,500 housing code violations.

A Montgomery County District Court judge is scheduled on Tuesday to hear the case brought by the county that alleges managers and owners of the Enclave apartments on Oak Leaf Drive did not remediate 83 violations found.

In January, after an uptick in community complaints about the apartment complex, county inspectors swept 829 units, finding an average of 3.1 violations per unit. About 16% of the violations were considered health and safety issues, which included mold, mice and roach infestations. Two units were found to have widespread mold issues and tenants had to be relocated.

The repeat violations were found during a follow-up inspection of some units in March, according to Department of Housing and Community Affairs director Tim Goetzinger.

The Enclave apartments had last been inspected three years ago, consistent with county standards, Goetzinger said.

“As a part of the county executive’s push for a more robust inspection regime, DHCA is utilizing any and all means to ensure that properties that have housing code violations are quickly brought up to code,” Goetzinger said. “If a re-inspection determines that violations are not corrected, we will cite the property and seek a court-ordered remediation and applicable fines.”

After being sworn in as county executive in December, Marc Elrich vowed to crack down on multifamily housing complexes with multiple housing code violations.

A regulation enacted by the County Council in March established guidelines for multifamily housing complexes cited by county housing inspectors and requires landlords to implement an “action plan” to correct serious violations that adversely affect renters’ health or safety in a timely manner.

In March, Enclave owners pleaded guilty to various repeat code violations, and a judge ordered about $800 be paid to the county, according to online court records.

Attorneys for The Donaldson Group, the property’s management company, and The Enclave’s owner, New York-based Enclave Holdings, LLC, could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year The Donaldson Group, pledged in a statement that it “is fully committed to working with the ownership and the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs to make all necessary repairs and improvements to The Enclave’s individual apartments and common areas in order to provide a safe, healthy, and welcoming living environment for residents.”

Enclave owners face a separate, class-action lawsuit, filed by tenants who allege owners were negligent in failing to fix persistent mold issues for more than three years. A jury trial is scheduled for February 2020.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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