Lawsuits, outstanding bills, and no power in Prince George's Co.

Families forced out of their homes

TEMPLE HILLS, MD (WUSA9) - There are 216 units at Lynnhill Condominiums in Temple Hills, Maryland. On Tuesday, they were dark and mostly empty.

As some residents carted their things to u-hauls, one told WUSA9, "It's just sad that you pay your rent and this is the result that you get."

Shortly after 12:00 p.m., PEPCO turned off services to Lynnhill Condominiums, and Washington Gas says they did the same.

Neither company would comment on the specifics of the case, but the president of the condominium association told WUSA9, they owe roughly $550k to Pepco alone.

In total, he said, their utility debt is around $1 million.

Those bills are not paid through individual accounts. They're paid by the condo association.

David Gilmore, the President of Lynnhill Condominiums, says the current board of directors took control of operations in February of this year, but could not work out an agreement to keep the power on.

"In a condo regime you have condominium assessment fees that the unit owners are responsible to pay... There's a lot of unit owners that didn't pay their condo fees, but we were able to maintain the current bills while we took over in February," Gilmore explained.

"We had plans to pay Pepco on the rears," he added, "and this is what they're cutting us off for - several years of back payment. I guess they weren't comfortable with certain phases of the plan."

Many of the people moving out on Tuesday told WUSA9 they rent at Lynnhill and feel that the the owners lied about the extent of the problem.

"The landlords just lied to us and said nothing was going to happen but it did," said one.

Another, named Monica Diaz, said she'd been renting for four months.

"When I talk to [the people from social services] they tell me why didn't I talk to my landlord... for what? I didn't know what was going on. When I go to him he tells me a different story."

A spokesperson for Pepco told WUSA9 cutting off power was a last resort and is something they only do if "all other options have been exhausted."

"We can’t discuss specifics of this case due to state privacy regulations," wrote spokesperson Marcus Beal, "but we are always willing to make payment arrangements if our customers have trouble paying their bill."

Gilmore doesn't deny that Lynnhill has been in debt for years, but he says the county should have stepped in.

"I'm disappointed in the County," he said. "I don't feel we have the necessary support that we should have."

Officials with the county say they've helped this property in the past, but because there are now lawsuits involved - the situation is out of their hands.

Gary Cunningham, with the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement, told WUSA9 they posted the building as unfit to live as soon as the power was shut off.

It is against county code to live anywhere with disconnected gas and power, and according to Cunningham, most residents self-relocated.

A number of officials from county departments were on site Tuesday, providing information to residents about shelters and other housing options.

Cunningham says all residents are advised to leave the building, for safety reason, but there are no plans to forcefully remove those who stay.

Monica Diaz says she is sleeping in her apartment, at least for tonight.

"I don't make that much. I'm  basically living paycheck to paycheck but now I have nowhere to go," she said.

"I have to do what I have to do, because I'd rather be indoors that outdoors."


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