The Alexandria Health Department has withdrawn the rental permits of two apartment complexes with a total of 511 units because of violations of the city's housing code.

The complexes are Cameron Overlook, 375 S. Reynolds St., and Duchess Gardens Apartments, 4309 Duke Street.

The order, issued by the department under an ordinance that took effect last April, means that units which are currently vacant or which become vacant in those developments may not be offered for rent until the violations are corrected and the complex's rental permit is reissued. The immediate effect of the action will be to prevent the owners from renting about eight apartments which are currently unoccupied in the two complexes.

"This is considered a serious action because it places a financial constraint on the owner until that permit is restored," said Dr. Angel Cardona, the city's Director of Public Health.

"We don't take this action lightly," Cardona added.

Cameron Overlook is a 209-unit rent-subsidized complex owned by Community Management Corporation of Maryland. Cardona said the building had had serious problems with water leaking into 12 apartments and that three of those had been labelled as "unfit for human habitation" by his office.

"We've given them sufficient time to correct these problems and we see no action whatsoever," said Cardona. Health department records indicate that the building owners had been told one year ago to correct the situation.

Benjamin Weitz, spokesman for the owners, said the owners have instituted suits against the architect and contractor for the building for more than $1 million because of what he termed faulty design and construction work. "There are seven problems in the building," he said.

The other building is the 302-unit Duchess Gardens complex, which was originally cited for 143 violations including peeling paint, leaking faucets, and falling plaster.

The owner, Samuel Geltman of Hasbrouck Heights, N.Y., corrected all but 49 of the violations after receiving an extension granted by the Health Department.

In a letter to Cardona last week, Richard Sayer, managing agent for the apartments, argued that the company had moved as "expeditiously" as possible in correcting the problems cited by the Health Department.