The management company involved in the Silver Spring explosion and fire received over 1600 citations in two different building inspections in the Flower Branch apartment complex.
WUSA9 reached out to the company multiple times and still did not receive any answer as of Monday, even though there’s activity both online and on the ground. Before the fatal fire and explosion, tenants at the Flower Branch Apartments told WUSA9, they were frustrated with maintenance’s response. Now, they tell WUSA9 that they’re afraid.
“It’s scary,” said Felicia Prospere.
“My wife doesn’t feel comfortable to be here. She’s not, because she’s scared to turn on the stove," said Prospere's husband Kieron.
This is just one of the frustrations the couple dealt with as devises monitored the quality of air in their apartment Monday. The other, they say is getting information from management.
“If Red Cross didn’t do anything for us, where would we be? They didn’t come to say here’s a voucher for a night’s hotel or two nights. There’s no type of communication apart from us going, asking them something – they say ‘corporate’. That’s it’s it, ‘everything’ corporate.”
‘Kay Apartment Communities’ is the property management company that dozens of Flower Branch residents slammed Friday evening along with the building’s owner. Many have said complaints of a gas leaks to building management went ignored.
“They just reported it but we don’t see them come to buildings, we don’t see them come to our apartments to check and see if everything is okay,” said Melissa Velasquez.
Flower Branch Apartments logged than 900 code violations in 2010 and more than 700 code violations in 2013 according to the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Some were minor, but the complaints stop at 2014. A county spokesperson says if there are no complaint logged, it is because the tenant did not make the claim directly.
Matthew Losack, a tenant-advocate, is so angry over this he became emotional. He’s pushing Bill 19:15, legislation introduced in the county that would make inspections more frequent.
“We have been asking for the kinds of remedies that people deserve. Uh, who live in rental houses. We need to know that they live in safe and secure homes. We need to respect them as members of the county. We need to see results when we don’t do that.” Said Losak with Renters Alliance.
A former assistant property manager claims there were significant issues ignored but also says several years ago, tenants here were also threatened with calls to immigration.
Felicia Prospere says she can only speak to now and that response is, “I’m frightened. I’m very frightened about this. Words cannot express how I feel. I’m very speechless.”
Kay Apartment Communities manages more than 30 locations across the DMV according to their website. They did not answer our individual questions by Monday evening, but did post online they are working to rehouse some of the people displaced and are also offering debit cards as of the assistance to the people who can prove their residency.
Montgomery County's leaders say it's absolutely crucial now to remind renters, you should make a complaint with your management company first but if they don't answer, you can and SHOULD file a complaint with the county. If there are any fears because of someone's status, you can also make the complaint anonymously and online.
If you are not by a computer, you can call 311 in the county or (240) 777-0311.