During a three-day sweep, Montgomery County inspectors found more than 2,500 housing code violations at a White Oak apartment complex and two people had to be temporarily moved from their units due to mold.
Inspectors from the county Department of Housing and Community Affairs inspected 829 units at The Enclave Silver Spring apartments, three high-rise buildings near the intersection of Routes 29 and New Hampshire Avenue, and found an average of 3.1 violations per unit late last month, county officials said.
The inspection piggybacked on a September inspection of roughly 300 apartments that uncovered 367 violations. The September inspection was spurred by an uptick in complaints to the county from Enclave residents — 113 complaints were received last year compared to 41 in the previous four years.
Between the two inspections, which included about 97 percent of units, 16 percent of violations found were considered health and safety issues, including mold, mice and roach infestations.
Two units were found to have widespread mold issues and tenants had to be relocated, according to Housing Director Tim Goetzinger.
Goetzinger said the county was anticipating more mold problems and had contacted nonprofit organizations before the inspection to ensure affected tenants would be able to get temporary housing.
“Honestly, we as a county got lucky, because there’s only so many places you people and if there had been a lot (who needed relocated) we would have kind of been in trouble,” he said.
One unit was cleaned and restored and the tenant returned and the other moved to a different, clean unit on site, Goetzinger said. In total, 145 units had “high-level” mold violations, Goetzinger said, meaning they were classified as critical violations.
The property management company for The Enclave, The Donaldson Group, said top-priority repairs will be completed by Wednesday.
“The Enclave’s ownership and management are committed to working with the county 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,” the company said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the company 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.”
The Enclave’s issues caught the attention of the county executive and County Council member Tom Hucker, who represents Silver Spring. County Executive Marc Elrich called the conditions “unacceptable.”
The Enclave will be reinspected later this month and if violations aren’t corrected, its owners will face fines for each violation and for each unit that needs to be inspected another time, Goetzinger said. Fines are not distributed when a violation is initially discovered.
“They’re aware of what needs to be done and … they’ve been doing everything they can,” Goetzinger said, adding Enclave management has hired four new maintenance staffers to help correct violations.
The Donaldson Group was hired as the management group of the apartments in April “with the direct purpose of concentrating on” a long ist of deferred maintenance. Rain during the spring, summer and fall delayed remediation, the group said in a statement.
The Enclave apartments had last been inspected three years ago, consistent with county standards, Goetzinger said.
After he took office in December, Elrich has promised to crack down on multifamily housing buildings with multiple housing code violations and create a list of “troubled properties.” The troubled properties will be subject to more frequent inspections and tasked with providing the housing department quarterly maintenance logs and plan about how to prevent future violations.
Goetzinger wrote a report in December that said 78 percent of the almost 700 applicable properties had been inspected in the past two years. The county’s deadline for inspecting the remaining properties is July 1.
This story has been updated to include a statement by The Enclave’s management group. The company previously hadn’t provided a statement.