77 Maryland Families Evicted After Condo Association Defaults on Utility Bills

After their condo association failed to pay utility bills, 77 Maryland families were forced out of their homes on October 26, NBC News’ Washington Bureau reported yesterday.

Their homes were declared unfit to live in after electric and gas service was shut off October 25. The owners association for Lynnhill Condominiums in Temple Hills hadn’t paid $1.2 million in utility bills. Residents were given three days to relocate – with no power.

“We were sleeping in cars yesterday,” Dana Messey Moore told NBC News Washington, wiping away tears. “The shelters ran out of space.”

She stuffed belongings into containers as she struggled to move her family. “It doesn’t feel good,” she said. “To have something taken from you that you worked so hard for.”

The good news: People have flocked to the condominium in the wake of news coverage of the eviction. One group that responded was Mess Movers, which showed up with trucks. The company is donating its services.

“We had to do what we could to make a difference,” Terry Epps, owner of the company, told the news organization.

Gates, Hudson and Associates, an apartment management company, arrived to help residents  including a grateful Messey Moore – find new homes in their available properties in the county. They are waiving application fees.

Meanwhile, Prince George’s County’s Office of Emergency Management brought a large light down to help people see as they pack., NBC reported.

The crisis at Lynnhill Condominiums Hills has been building for years; the complex has a history of code violations, according to the news network, that stretches back into the late 1990s. The complex filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010.

More recently, the condo association alleged that a past management company had been misusing residents’ condo fees.

“What they did was they were taking owners’ condo fees and not paying utilities,” Stanley Briscoe, the condo association’s treasurer, told the news outlet. The condo board treasurer said he was frustrated, because he had hoped the association could reach an agreement with its utility, Pepco.

According to NBC, the utilities have said they had worked with the complex for years, but had no choice after failed payment plans couldn’t get accounts caught up.

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