Stepped Up Housing Code Inspections Unrelated to Silver Spring Explosion (VIDEO)

Nine new housing code specialists are being hired to increase the frequency of inspections at multi-family dwellings in Montgomery County. The County Council approved a new Landlord-Tenants bill in November, a little more than three months after a natural gas explosion and fire killed seven people at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring.

The original version of Bill 1915 had stalled over recommended changes in the frequency of building inspections. County lawmakers finally agreed on a new law that requires the Department of Housing and Community Affairs to inspect multi-family buildings every two years instead of every three. Troubled properties must be inspected every year. The agency’s director says the stepped up enforcement of housing codes is not related to the August 10 tragedy.

Housing code inspectors found hundreds of violations at Flower Branch Apartments and another Kay Apartments complex following the August 10 gas explosion. However, Director Snuggs says the inspection uncovered just under three violations per unit. He also describes the number and type of violations as fairly common for large, older apartment complexes and not life-threatening.

Some Flower Branch tenants are suing Kay Apartments and Washington Gas over conditions that existed before the natural gas explosion. The company is not commenting at this time due to the litigation, but responded to questions about violations and efforts to assist tenants on the Flower Branch Apartments website.

You can check the status of a housing code enforcement complaint on the Montgomery County government’s website. Tenants can also obtain information about the new Landlord-Tenants Relations law and other housing regulations.

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Phyllis Armstrong

About Phyllis Armstrong

Phyllis Armstrong is a multimedia journalist with more than 30 years of experience in writing, reporting and broadcasting. She covered a wide range of news interests and issues as a general assignment reporter for WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C. from 1984 to 2009. Phyllis has continued to produce feature stories about local restaurants, culinary professionals and minority achievers for several online publications. Cooking, reading and Tai Chi are among are favorite things to do.

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