Residents of Silver Spring apartment fire say they are blocked from belongings until signing waiver

It’s been an uphill battle for residents in the aftermath of a fire at the Arrive apartment building in Silver Spring, Maryland, last month that left one woman dead and at least 15 others displaced.

Now, the property management company of the building is being accused of holding their belongings hostage.

Em Espey and their partner lived just a few doors down from where the three-alarm fire started. Espey said their unit wasn’t badly damaged and they’ve been allowed to retrieve a few items.

But Espey said they were told by the property management company, Trinity Property Consultants, that they won’t be able to schedule a move out unless they agree to certain terms.

“You first have to sign a waiver saying that you understand the risks of going back into the unit and you basically aren’t going to sue,” says Espey. “We definitely don’t want to risk waiving our rights to compensation. It’s causing added stress,” they added.

The waiver reads in part:

“In response to the demand of individuals to access unit Affected Units for the purposes of recovering personal property, please be advised that accessing these units, the environment within these Affected Units, and the taking [of] personal property from those Affected Units will be at your own risk. By signing below you acknowledge the risk … both known and unknown.”

“By signature hereto you agree that you are releasing the Owners and property managers of the Arrive Building, along with their respective, affiliates, members, officers, predecessors, successors, assigns, employees, representatives, agents, and attorneys from any and all claims, known and unknown, arising from your access to the units or arising from, or may arise from, your taking, removing or manipulating personal property in or from the units.”

Montgomery County Council member Kate Stewart has been working closely with residents trying to pick up the pieces following the fire.

“It’s been an incredibly frustrating process,” Stewart said. “We want to make sure that they’re safe and they have a community in which they can trust their building management.”

WTOP has reached out to the management company for comment.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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