Elrich Joins Outrage Over Silver Spring Tenants Facing Waiver to Access Belongings

This story was updated March 9 to include a response from the Arrive Silver Spring team.

County Executive Marc Elrich.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich added to criticism following a fatal apartment fire last month, saying he is outraged over reports that tenants are dealing with restricted access to units.

“This is outrageous, these people have been displaced by a fire, they should be able to go into the building and get their belongings,” Elrich said during a media briefing Wednesday.

A Feb. 18 fire at Arrive Silver Spring killed a 25-year-old woman and displaced many residents. Tenants at the apartment building have reportedly been required to sign a waiver before they are allowed to move out. 

“These tenants have been through enough, they shouldn’t be struggling to get their belongings back because the landlord is trying to get a waiver out of them,” Elrich said.

County Council President Evan Glass made remarks Monday, saying it is “unconscionable” that a landlord would not allow residents to get their belongings after a fire. 

Both Elrich and Glass said they advised tenants to take legal steps. 

“We are advising tenants who have signed or are being asked to sign this waiver to seek legal counsel,” Elrich said.

“I have encouraged former residents — that if they choose to not sign this waiver to retrieve the belongings that they should have a right to get — they unfortunately need to file a suit in district court,” Glass said on Monday. He said the waiver is permissible under state law, and falls outside of the county’s legal authority.

Elrich said the county will continue to monitor the situation.

In a statement sent to MyMCM Wednesday on behalf of Arrive Silver Spring, the team said the waiver is standard procedure in such a situation in which there are environmental conditions. The statement emphasized there is no deadline for moving belongings out of units at this time. 

The full statement reads as follows:

As of March 2, in response to resident requests, we will allow any resident that wishes to retrieve their belongings (such as furniture, larger items, etc.) the opportunity to do so upon meeting with our office to ensure awareness and understanding of the potential health impacts. 

This waiver is a standard procedure in a loss, such as this, where immediately following a fire there are environmental conditions present, and persons seeking access to the space are provided with disclosure and a waiver. The landlord can grant access, but those seeking access are provided with a disclosure of our current knowledge of hazards in the space. This allows them to assess the information and either take measures to protect themselves and then access the space, or wait until further information is available.

We want to be clear, there is no deadline for the moving of personal belongings out of units at this time. Due to the ongoing investigations by industrial hygienists and third-party fire professionals and the potential health impacts from the fire in condemned units, we are still waiting to be advised on the timeline for having a full and complete remediation schedule for the condemned units. Once we have that information, we will be able to share it directly with the affected residents and work to figure out a long term housing solution that fits their needs. 

The Arrive Silver Spring team is allowing residents in units not directly impacted by the fire, but indirectly impacted, to get out of any obligation to their lease (up to 30 days post the February 18th fire).

The Arrive Silver Spring Team

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