Congress Takes on Chinese Drywall
Congress is taking action to help homeowners affected by defective drywall manufactured in China. The drywall was used to build hundreds of homes during the housing boom and is now known to cause serious structural defects, according to the results of a government task force investigation. Both houses of Congress approved Concurrent Resolution 197 this week “encouraging banks and mortgage servicers to work with families affected by contaminated drywall and to consider adjustments to payment schedules on their home mortgages that take into account the financial burdens of responding to the presence of such drywall.” The resolution encourages temporary forbearance on mortgage payments to help families afford the costs of additional residency during periods of repair. The resolution cites that the noxious gases released from the drywall is forcing borrowers out of their homes and into temporary housing at great personal expense and calls on banks and mortgage servicers to help borrowers affected by the drywall. A second piece of legislation, House Resolution 3854, passed the House of Representatives and was referred to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship this week. It amends the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 that, among other things, would authorize the small business administration to originate loans to homeowners of properties built with Chinese drywall to pay for its repair or replacement. These are the latest legislative actions taken by Congress to address the Chinese drywall situation. A Consumer Product Safety Commission-led task force, with contributions from the departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), determined the drywall is the cause of damage to household air conditioning coils, electrical plumbing components and other materials, as well as health problems in residents of these homes. As HousingWire previously reported, some banks have extended forbearances to affected borrowers, and while some homeowners are looking to their builder for remediation, a Fitch Ratings report warns there may be little recourse against the manufacturers of the drywall. Write to Austin Kilgore.