U.S. House Chinese Drywall Bill Encourages Mortgage ForbearanceDec 3, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
A Chinese drywall bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives that encourages lenders to provide assistance to homeowners with the defective wallboard. It is hoped that H. Con. Res. 197, which passed the House by a 419-1 margin, will help Chinese drywall victims forced out of their homes avoid foreclosure.
So far, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received 2,091 reports from residents in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico concerning Chinese drywall. Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.
Tests recently released by the CPSC of 51 homes confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in Chinese drywall homes.
The drywall problems have forced many people out of their homes, and some families are dealing with the heavy financial burden of paying both rent and mortgage payments. Those unable to afford additional rent have no choice but to stay in their potentially hazardous homes.
The bill passed by the House would encourage banks and mortgage servicers to provide impacted homeowners with temporary forbearance on their mortgage payments. Forbearance allows mortgage payees to stop making payments during times of temporary financial distress.
"Many of my constituents have been forced to leave their homes and pay rent in addition to paying their mortgage,” Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Sarasota, Florida, and an original co-sponsor of the resolution, said in a press release. “This bill would provide them with some financial relief and help them avoid foreclosure.”
On November 10, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution.