Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs
for Montgomery County, Maryland
|In the Matter of the Appeal filed by
Ulysses S. Glee, Owner
8716 Bradford Road Silver Spring, MD
Rental Facility License No. 017961
On August 5, 1998, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (the"Department") issued notice to Ulysses S. Glee, owner of 8716 Bradford 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County, MD, that the Rental Facility License for the Property, issued by the Department, License No. 017961, had been revoked as a result of his failure to correct a total of 75 housing code violations at the Property. In response to the revocation notice, on October 5, 1998, Ulysses S. Glee (the "Appellant") filed a formal appeal to the Commission.
The Appellant is seeking an order from the Commission reversing the Department's revocation of Rental Facility License No. 017961 for 8716 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD.
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 October 19, 1998. Present at the hearing and offering testimony and evidence were the Appellant, Ulysses S. Glee, and one Commission witness, Robert Dejter, Inspector, Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Division of Housing and Code Enforcement. Without objection from the Appellant, 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.
The Appellant testified at the hearing that: (a) he received all correspondence and notices from the Department regarding housing code inspections and Rental Facility License revocation; (b) he did not dispute the findings of the inspections regarding the existence of the violations; (c) he had spent at least $15,000.00 since September 15, 1998, to correct the outstanding violations; (d) as of the date of this hearing all but 11 of the violations cited by the Department had been corrected; and (e) all remaining violations will be corrected not later than December 1, 1998.
In support of his testimony, the Appellant entered into evidence at the hearing 20 photographs taken at the Property which fairly and accurately depict the progress of repairs on the exterior common areas (ground cover and retaining wall) of the Property (See Appellant's Exhibit Nos. 1-9), the repairs to plumbing fixtures and the replacement of washing machines in the laundry room of the Property (See Appellant's Exhibit Nos. 10-17) and the replacement of kitchen cabinets, sink and countertop in apartment #5 at the Property (See Appellant's Exhibit Nos. 18-20). The Appellant also entered into evidence at the hearing 51 bills, invoices and paid receipts, totaling approximately $7,350.00 (See Appellant's Exhibit Nos. 21 and 22), for the purchase of materials, supplies, appliances and the like relative to repairs and improvements he had recently made to the Property.
The Appellant further testified that most of the repairs to housing code violations had been done since the Department's September 15th reinspection of the Property, and as of the October 19, 1998 hearing, 11 violations have not been corrected.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Based on the testimony and evidence of record, the Commission makes the following findings of fact:
1. Ulysses S. Glee is the owner of the Property, a six (6) unit, garden-style apartment complex in Silver Spring, MD.
2. On June 23, 1998, the Department issued the Appellant a Notice of Violation citing 75 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 Robert Dejter on June 11, 1998, and ordered the Appellant to abate the violations within 30 to 45 days (see pages 3-13 of Commission's Exhibit No. 1).
3. On August 24, 1998, Inspector Dejter conducted a reinspection of the Property to determine if the housing code violations cited in the June 23rd Notice of Violation had been corrected, and by a letter dated August 28, 1998 (see pages 15-17 of Commission's Exhibit No. 1), received by the Appellant, Joe Giloley, Chief of the Department's Division of Housing and Code Enforcement, notified the Appellant regarding the August 24th reinspection, that Inspector Dejter, "...was only able to reinspect interior units where the tenants were home, since you were unable to meet him at the property as scheduled. An inspection of the common areas and the two dwelling units to which Mr. Dejter was able to gain access revealed very little progress in correcting the violations which were sent to you in my letter dated June 23, 1998." The August 28th letter also advised the Appellant that he had the right to file an appeal of the Notice of Violation with the Montgomery County Board of Appeals within 15 days, and failure to correct all of the violations by September 15, 1998, would result in enforcement action by the Department and the initiation of procedures to revoke the Property's Rental Facility License. The Appellant did not file an appeal of the Department=s June 23rd Notice of Violation to the Board of Appeals.
4. Inspector Dejter reinspected the Property on September 15, 1998, and determined that 28 of the 75 housing code violations cited by the Department on June 23, 1998, had not been corrected. The Commission also finds, based on Inspector Dejter's testimony, that as of the September 15th reinspection, violation Nos. 38 and 68 were corrected, and violation Nos. 39 and 69 were not corrected, and further, that none of the remaining, outstanding code violations pose a threat to the life, health or safety of the tenants.
5. By a letter dated September 28, 1998, received by the Appellant, Elizabeth Davison, the Department's Director, informed him that pursuant to Section 29-24 of the County Code, "...your Rental Facility License for 8716 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD...License No. 017961, has been REVOKED. The revocation is based on a reinspection of the Property by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs...on September 15, 1998, and your failure to correct 28 outstanding violations of Chapter 26, Housing and Building Maintenance Standards ...of the County Code." Ms. Davison's letter also advised the Appellant, pursuant to Section 29-24 of the County Code, of his right to appeal the license revocation to the Commission. The Appellant filed an appeal to the Commission on October 5, 1998, which is the subject of this hearing.
6. The Appellant was given proper written notice of the housing code violations by the Department on June 23, 1998, and ample opportunity to make repairs. As of September 15, 1998, the Appellant failed to correct 28 of the 75 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.
7. The Appellant failed to make any substantial progress to correct the referenced 75 housing code violations until after he received notice from the Department that his rental Facility License would be revoked. However, since September 15, 1998, the Appellant has commenced a substantial effort to correct remaining outstanding code violations at the Property.
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 Appellant on June 23, 1998, of the existence of 75 housing code violations, and gave him reasonable opportunity to abate those violations.
4. As a result of the existence of the 75 housing code violations cited by the Department on June 23, 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. 017961 for 8716 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, Maryland, is hereby MODIFIED.
2. Rental Facility License No. 017961 is hereby TEMPORARILY REINSTATED conditioned on the following: Correction of all remaining housing code violations cited by the Department in the Notice of Violation dated June 23, 1998, by December 1, 1998.
3. If the Appellant abates all of the housing code violations at the Property cited by the Department in the Notice of Violation dated June 23, 1998, by December 1, 1998, Rental Facility License No. 017961 for 8716 Bradford Road, will be fully reinstated as of that date.
4. The Commission hereby retains jurisdiction over the status of the Appellant's 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 Roger Luchs and Commissioners Gary Everngam 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.
Roger Luchs, Panel Chairperson
Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs