Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs
for Montgomery County, Maryland
|In the Matter of the Appeal filed by
Kwong and Mee Fong, Owners
Donald Fong, Agent
Rental Facility: 8811 Glenville Road Silver Spring, MD 20901
Rental Facility License No. 017335
The above captioned appeal having come before the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs for Montgomery County, Maryland ("the Commission"), pursuant to Sections 29-14A, 29-17, 29-18, 29-21, and 29-24 of the Montgomery County Code 1994, as amended ("County Code"), and the Commission having considered the testimony and evidence of record, it is therefore, this 18th day of September, 1998, found, determined, and ordered, as follows:
On August 5, 1998, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (the"Department") issued notice to Kwong Fong, on behalf of himself and Mee Fong, owners of 8811 Glenville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland (the "Property"), a licensed multi-family rental facility in Montgomery County, MD, that the Rental Facility License for the Property, issued by the Department, License No. 017335, had been revoked as a result of their failure to correct 32 of 54 housing code violations at the Property. In response to the revocation notice, on August 11, 1998, Donald Fong, Agent for Kwong and Mee Fong (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Appellants") filed a formal appeal to the Commission.
The Appellants are seeking an order from the Commission reversing the Department's revocation of Rental Facility License No. 017335 for 8811 Glenville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland.
Pursuant to the procedures set forth in Section 29-24 of the County Code, the Commission convened a public hearing which began and ended on August 24, 1998. Present at the hearing and offering testimony and evidence were Donald Fong, on behalf of the Appellants, and one Commission witness, Kevin Martell, Inspector, Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Division of Housing and Code Enforcement. Without objection from the Appellants, the Commission entered into the record of the hearing the case file for the Property compiled by the Department, identified as Commission's Exhibit No. 1.
Furthermore, the Commission extended the time period within which it would decide this matter pursuant to Sections 2A-10(d) and 29-24 of the County Code and Section 7.1 of Appendix L, "Regulations on Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs" of Chapter 29 of the County Code, and hereby decides as follows:
FINDINGS OF FACT
Based on the testimony and evidence of record, the Commission makes the following findings of fact:
1. Kwong and Mee Fong are the owners of the Property, a seven (7) unit, garden-style apartment complex in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Donald Fong is their Agent.
2. On June 3, 1998, the Department issued the Appellants a Notice of Violation citing 54 violations of Chapter 26, Housing and Building Maintenance Standards, of the County Code ("Housing Code"), noted as a result of an inspection conducted by Inspector Kevin Martell on May 13, 1998, and ordered the Appellants to abate the violations within 30 to 45 days.
3. On July 15, 1998, Inspector Martell conducted a reinspection of the Property to determine if the housing code violations cited on June 3rd had been corrected, and by a letter dated July 22, 1998 (see pages 11-17 of Commission's Exhibit No. 1), received by the Appellants, he notified them that 32 of the 54 code violations had not been corrected and advised them that a reinspection was scheduled for July 31, 1998.
4. In addition to Inspector Martell's July 22nd letter, by a letter dated July 17, 1998 (see pages 18-20 of Commission's Exhibit No. 1), received by the Appellants, Joe Giloley, Chief, Division of Housing and Code Enforcement, advised them that: (a) he was very concerned with the lack of substantial progress made on correcting the housing code violations identified in the June 3, 1998 Notice of Violation; (b) they had the right to file an appeal of the Notice of Violation with the Montgomery County Board of Appeals within 15 days; and (c) failure to correct all of the violations, with the exception of violation #8 (re-paving the front parking lot) by July 31, 1998, would result in the revocation of their Rental Facility License.
5. By a letter dated August 5, 1998, received by the Appellants, the Department's Acting Director Giloley informed them that a reinspection of the Property on July 31, 1998, A...revealed that of the 54 violations about which you were placed on notice, 32 are still outstanding." and, AAs a result of your failure to correct the housing code violations identified in my letters of June 3, 1998 and July 17, 1998, this letter serves as written notice that, effective August 15, 1998, your license to operate the above-referenced rental facility is revoked." Mr. Giloley's letter also advised the Appellants, pursuant to Section 29-24 of the County Code, of their right to appeal the license revocation to the Commission. The Appellants filed an appeal to the Commission, which is the subject of this hearing, on August 11, 1998.
6. In response to a summons issued by the Commission for this hearing, Inspector Martell provided 21 photographs, entered into the record without objection from the Appellants as Commission's Exhibit No. 2, that he personally took at the Property during his July 31st reinspection of the Property. The Commission finds that the photographs fairly and accurately depict the condition of the Property on July 31, 1998, and that all 25 uncorrected deficiencies observed by Inspector Martell on that date are violations of the County's Housing Code.
7. The Commission credits the testimony of Inspector Martell that: (a) he inspected the Property on May 13, 1998, and as a result of that inspection, on June 3, 1998, the Department issued a Notice of Violation citing 54 violations of the Housing Code to the Appellants; (b) he reinspected the Property on July 15, 1998, and found that 32 of the 54 code violations had not been corrected; (c) he reinspected the Property again on July 31, 1998, and found that 25 of the 54 code violations had not been corrected; and (d) he reinspected the Property on August 24, 1998, the date of this hearing, and found that 21 of the 54 code violations had not been corrected. Inspector Martell further testified that none of the outstanding, uncorrected code violations constitute a serious danger to the life, health or safety of the occupants.
8. Appellant Donald Fong testified at the hearing that: (a) most of the violations cited in the June 3rd Notice of Violation had been repaired or corrected as of the date of this hearing; (b) he manages the Property and does most of the repairs himself; (c) one of the tenants at the Property does general cleaning of the grounds and common areas; and (d) he hired several contractors to complete work on the remaining code violations.
9. In support of his testimony, Mr. Fong entered into evidence at the hearing three documents: (a) an undated three-page contract from Terry M. Klara (see Appellants' Exhibit No. 1) for repair of the sidewalk, plastering and painting in several apartment units, installation of a new countertop, re-installation of existing sink and faucets and replacement of existing cabinets in Apartment #7, and for repair of the downspouts; (b) a one-page contract from APCCO Termite & Pest Control (see Appellants' Exhibit No. 2), dated August 5, 1998, to bait for roaches and bait exterior for rats; and (c) a two-page contract from Blaine Window Repair Service (see Appellants' Exhibit No. 3), dated July 20, 1998, for the repair of casement windows in three apartments at the Property.
10. The Appellants were given proper written notice of the housing code violations by the Department and ample opportunity to make repairs. As of July 31, 1998, the Appellants failed to correct 25 of the 54 housing code violations cited by the Department, and the Property was in violation of the Housing Code and Chapter 29, Landlord-Tenant Relations, of the County Code, due to the outstanding code violations and lack of maintenance and needed repairs.
11. The Appellants failed to make any substantial effort to correct the referenced 54 code violations until after they received notice from the Department that their Rental Facility License had been revoked.
12. Based on the photographic evidence and testimony of Inspector Martell, the Commission finds that the Appellant has failed to provide regular maintenance to the exterior of the Property (See Commission's Exhibit Nos. 2-1, 2-2 and 2-3) and certain attempted repairs, such as plastering and painting of interior walls and ceiling surfaces, had been done in an unworkmanlike1 manner (See Commission's Exhibit Nos. 2-5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17 and 18).
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The Commission makes the following conclusions of law based upon consideration of the testimony and evidence contained in the record:
1. The County has established the Housing Code to safeguard the health and safety of occupants of occupied dwellings and the general public which sets forth the minimum standards for the maintenance, repair and upkeep to those dwellings. The County is also authorized to inspect the condition of dwellings, nonresidential structures, and premises located in the County and conducts periodic inspections of those dwellings to determine if minimum standards are being maintained. (See Sec. 26-4 of Mont. Co. Code).
2. The County requires that landlords obtain a license to operate a Rental Facility in the County. The issuance of the Rental Facility License is conditioned, in part, on the property being in compliance with all applicable laws, including the Housing Code, and, "If an inspection indicates that a rental facility is not in compliance with all applicable laws, the Director may revoke the license or take other remedial action". (See Sec. 29-21(c) of Mont. Co. Code).
3. The Department properly notified the Appellants on June 3, 1998, of the existence of 54 housing code violations, and gave them reasonable opportunity to abate those violations.
4. As a result of the existence of the 54 housing code violations cited by the Department on June 3, 1998, the Property was not in compliance with applicable County laws.
5. The Appellants' failure to make necessary repairs to the Property in a timely and workmanlike manner and to abate all of the housing code violations after repeated notice from the Department, constitutes a significant and substantial violation of Chapters 26 and 29 of the County Code, which is grounds for the revocation of the Rental Facility License for the Property.
In view of the foregoing, the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs hereby orders that:
1. The Department's revocation of Rental Facility License No. 017335 for 8811 Glenville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland, is hereby MODIFIED.
2. Rental Facility License No. 017335 is hereby TEMPORARILY REINSTATED conditioned on the following:
a). Correction of all 21 remaining housing code violations (violation No. 8 parking lot re-paving having been waived), cited by the Department in the Notice of Violation dated June 3, 1998, by September 30, 1998.
b). Commencing with the month of October 1998, and continuing for 12 calendar months thereafter, the Property, including all common areas, are subject to bi-monthly inspections by the Department. The Appellant must contact the Department to schedule such inspections, which are to be conducted within the first 10 days of the month in which the inspection is to occur.
c). If any housing code violations are discovered as the result of required bi-monthly inspections, they must be corrected in accordance with the time-frames and instructions set forth by the Department. Failure to complete any repairs within the time-frames set by the Department constitutes non-compliance with this Order and is grounds for the Commission to immediately revoke the temporary reinstatement and to affirm the Department's revocation of the Rental Facility License.
3. Copies of all bi-monthly inspection reports, and any other inspection reports which may be generated by complaints from tenants at the Property or by community residents, are to be submitted to the Commission by the Department at the first meeting of the Commission after any inspection, together with a statement as to whether or not the Appellants have complied with the conditions set forth in this Order.
4. If the Appellants remain in compliance with this Order up to and including the final bi-monthly inspection of the Property, Rental Facility License No. 017335 for 8811 Glenville Road, will be fully reinstated.
5. The Commission hereby retains jurisdiction over the status of the Appellants' Rental Facility License for the Property until such time as it is fully reinstated or until such time as the Revocation is affirmed.
The foregoing decision was concurred in unanimously by Panel Chairperson Gary Everngam and Commissioners John Peterson and Martin Schnider.
The Appellants are hereby notified that Section 29-44 of the County Code declares that failure to comply with this Order is punishable by a civil fine Class A violation as set forth in Section 1-19 of the County Code.
Any party aggrieved by the action of the Commission may file an administrative appeal to the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Maryland, within thirty (30) days from the date of this Order, pursuant to the Maryland Rules governing administrative appeals.
Gary Everngam, Panel Chairperson
Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs
1The BOCA (Building Officials & Code Administrators International, Inc.) National Property Maintenance Code is regarding by housing officials nationwide as the industry standard. Section PM-101.6 of the BOCA Code states, regarding workmanship, that "All repairs, maintenance work, alterations or installations which are caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this code shall be executed in a workmanlike manner,""and Section PM-202.0 defines workmanlike as, "Executed in a skilled manner; e.g. generally plumb, level, square, in line, undamaged, and without marring adjacent work."