Residents of 400 units at The Marquis apartments in King of Prussia have been without water since Christmas, leading Upper Merion officials to label three buildings "unfit for habitation" and to seek an emergency injunction to force repairs.

A water pump broke on Christmas morning, leaving tenants in three of the five buildings without drinking water or showers, said John Waters, Upper Merion code-enforcement officer.

Residents were allowed to remain in the building while the pump was fixed.

The complex used to have two pumps but one broke and was not fixed, so there was no backup, Waters said.

Residents were given jugs of water for drinking and for flushing toilets, and allowed to take showers in unoccupied apartments in buildings that had running water. Portable toilets were also set up outside.

A call to the management office was not returned.

Tenants of the 641-unit complex have long complained of standing sewage, broken elevators, erratic heat, and rodents. Waters said he has issued 19 violations since Nov. 7, mostly for heat problems and insects.

On Tuesday, the township sought an emergency injunction in Montgomery County Court to force the property owners to rectify the long list of maintenance issues.

An Upper Merion news release said the owners "remain unresponsive and continue to violate" township codes.

The Marquis is owned by Boston-based Metropolitan Properties of America, which also owns the 535-unit Colonade in Jenkintown, where residents have complained about maintenance delays and security lapses. Metropolitan did not return a call for comment.

Waters said that the company had a contractor on-site trying to fix the pump Tuesday but that "the question is whether they are going to be able to get parts or buy a new pump. These parts are probably 50 years old," he said.

The Marquis has generated more complaints than all the other apartments in the township combined, he said.

Waters said there were constant "pinpricks" at the complex.

"But this isn't a pinprick," he said of the water problem. "This is a shark bite, and we feel we have to take action for the safety of the people in the buildings."

Contact staff writer Kathy Boccella at 610-313-8123 or kboccella@phillynews.com.