By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Despite the fact that local newspapers and television stations are reporting on unsafe, unsanitary, and downright horrific living conditions of residents in distressed condominiums, most Americans remain unaware of this growing trend, and its contribution to a national affordable housing crisis.
One of the biggest social problems with so-called “affordable” condominiums is that they often struggle to pay the bills and keep up with basic maintenance and security. After several years of poor oversight and management, these communities find themselves unable to avoid blight and increasing criminal activity.
Some typical characteristics of chaotic condo associations:
- Buildings were constructed prior to the 1980s.
- Many were built as marginal or low quality apartment housing, later converted to condominiums marketed as “affordable” for first-time home buyers or retiring seniors on limited incomes.
- Although some units are owner-occupied, most owners live elsewhere and lease their unit – or multiple units – to tenants.
- Most residents in the surrounding community mistakenly believe the condominium complex is an apartment home community.
- The majority of tenants have low incomes and receive some sort of rent assistance
- Management of these associations tends to be poor – inconsistent enforcement of rules, ineffective collection of assessments (maintenance fees), with spotty or non-existent maintenance.
I’ve featured several such “communities” here on IAC before: Tymber Skan and Blossom Park in Orange County, Florida; Brannon Hills in DeKalb County, Georgia; Casa Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Washington Post recently did an excellent article on struggling condominiums in the Washington DC area. (Condominiums in crisis: Financial troubles put many communities at risk)
Lynnhill Condominiums in Prince George County, Maryland, is yet another example. Families were recently told that Pepco will shut off electric utilities as of October 21st, due to unpaid bills. If electricity is turned off, the County would then be forced to condemn the condo complex, vacating all remaining residents.
Looking back at the history of Lynnhill, in February of 2014, WSSC also threatened to shut off water utilities for the same reason. The condo association was granted an extension and a payment plan. But then on Thanksgiving in 2014, a fire at Lynnhill destroyed several units and displaced 27 residents.
And yet, two years later, with charred condo units boarded up, dozens of building and safety code violations, and no working elevators, Lynnhill is still home to dozens of households. Why hasn’t Prince George County either enforced its building and fire safety codes or condemned the property?
Condo residents facing eviction over complex failing to pay bills in PG Co.
By Tim Barber/ABC7 Thursday, October 13th 2016
TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (ABC7) — Dozens of families at a Prince George’s County condo complex are being forced to think about moving.
“I don’t have nowhere to go. That’s why I’m here,” said Monique Lindsey, who lives at the Lynnhill Condominiums with her three kids.
County officials say the management company at the complex has not been paying the utility bills. If the utilities are shut off, residents will have to find a new place to live because living in the condos without utilities would not be safe.
Not an isolated incident
The general public needs to know that this same scenario is playing out all across the U.S.
Condominium associations have quietly replaced public housing. But instead of improving upon the deficiencies of the public housing model, instead of reducing segregation and increasing opportunity for personal wealth, Association Governed Housing has only made matters worse.
After all, most condo and homeowners associations in affordable price ranges are led by either poorly educated and unskilled boards or opportunists who seek to exploit their fellow homeowners. And sometimes that opportunist is the manager hired to oversee day-to-day operations.
The reason for that is simple, common sense: Associations on tight budgets simply cannot afford to employ high quality management. What’s more, privately contracted management is expensive, and only adds up to a higher cost of living for households living on small incomes.
And, by the way, economic distress is not limited to condominiums. Financial woes and poor management are also becoming more frequent in planned communities of detached homes or townhouses with homeowners’ associations (HOAs). Some examples recently featured are Pine Ridge HOA in Pike County, Pennsylvania; Centennial Park HOA in Las Vegas; Oasis Ranch in El Paso, Texas.
Without intervention, financially insolvent condo and homeowners’ associations will continue to deteriorate, creating more social problems and, ultimately, a significant burden on taxpayers.
Sooner or later, our housing policymakers need to acknowledge that the financial and governance model of Association Governed Communities is broken, perhaps beyond repair.
While Association Governance of common interest communities may work for real estate developers, and community association service providers (management companies, attorneys, and related maintenance and financial service providers), as evidenced by examples presented in this article (and countless others), it certainly isn’t working well for a significant number of housing consumers.
And those consumers hardest hit include older Americans, low income families with children, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, military families, and Veterans.
7 thoughts on “Lynnhill Condominiums in Temple Hills, MD, has long history of distress”
I am one of the renters here so sad to see our building fall under and the landlords tell us nothing
This is truly a sad situation for the residents of that community. The Condo Association really failed the tenant immensely to the point of no avail. As a real estate professional that specialized in Prince Georges, MD Real Estate sales, how can any owner of these units expect to sell unit in these condition in which i am accurate that the delinquency ratios are out of this world.
Although surely landlord owners have been somewhat to blame, the County should never have allowed things to get so bad. This is why making nice with corporate interests winds up costing citizens dearly. Addressing an emergency ALWAYS takes more resources than solving problems and putting sustainable solutions in place. That local officials did not see this coming really makes them look like …. idiots.
According to county property records, only 15% of the Lynnhill units are owner occupied. That means 85% are owned by people who are essentially mini-slumlords. The county has known about the problems for years, and had an opportunity to do something better at the time the buildings were evacuated because of earthquake damage a few years ago. But they took the band-aid approach and essentially made the problem worse than it had been. The people suffering the most are the renters who paid up on time, but did not get the services they paid for and are not getting any significant from the government help now, while the mini-slumlords who preyed on them suffer the least.
So I have a brother who just called a renter who intact pay everymonth to avoid homelessness has just informed me that the lights were shut off in the lynhill condos were he resides along with his children. Like why the hell at winter time what about those families the crime no lights. Non humane who do they turn to were do they go today with their kids how will they eat. How they going be safe and how will they be protected along with their belongings. How are they going to leave today with all their belongings without being robbed or killed. We need help answers a go to person like while the media need to be their the pg county md needs to be their. Election time wow.
LATEST UPDATE: (Oct 24, 2016)
It is the same in the Greater Toronto Area.
There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of older condo corporations that are in terrible shape. Same issue with units bought by slumlords and turned into overcrowded rooming houses.
The municipalities want to stop building public housing and shift the problem to “inclusionary housing” sprinkling slightly cheaper rental units and cheaper “for sale” condo units onto charities and non-profit organizations.
Developers will not buy these condos and terminate the corporation because they are not situated on valuable land.
No one wants to talk about this problem as no one wants to own the issue.
On Sun, Oct 16, 2016 at 11:41 AM, Independent American Communities wrote:
> deborahgoonan posted: “By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities > Despite the fact that local newspapers and television stations are > reporting on unsafe, unsanitary, and downright horrific living conditions > of residents in distressed condominiums, most Americans” >
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