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Agencies Not Helping Residents With Problems   PDF  Print  E-mail 
Posted by Susan Lillard  
Sunday, 03 October 2004

Written by: James Rowe
Organization: Manufactured Homes

Here in the community of Ocean Breeze, several residents feel that both the county and the state have turned a blind eye to their housing complaints. Dozens of people have bought manufactured homes that had a list of serious problems, including faulty thermostats and pipes not being hooked up properly, causing insulation under the homes to become wet and potentially grow mold. Anyone familiar with the story about toxic mold at the S.C. governor's mansion in Columbia knows that this can pose a serious health risk. What many residents want to know is, How can both the county and the state allow people to move into homes like this?

Disgusted, many people contacted the S.C. Labor, Licensing and Regulation Board, the people who are supposed to make sure that things like this do not happen. Unfortunately, when my mother purchased her house in March, all of the above problems were present when she was handed the key. Soon, looking over her mortgage papers again, she found some things that she began to question. Talking and meeting with other neighbors, they also began to question some of things found in their mortgage papers.

Once again, the Labor, Licensing and Regulation Board was contacted by my mother and two neighbors. A letter was sent bearing the governor's seal, which informed her that a state inspector would come out to assess the problems. Along with him, the dealer, the manufacturer and the builder were to be present. Well, when this day came, the builder was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, the state inspector said that not only was he unable to look over mortgage papers, but he also failed to say what the reason could be that homes would be sold with serious defects to the residents of Horry County.

Given 30 days to comply with what needed to be fixed, my mother along with her two neighbors would wait until then for the manufacturer to come back to finish what the builder was supposed to have completed. (All homes are guaranteed for a year after purchase). While they did fix several problems in the house, the most serious ones were never fixed by them. Carolina Cooling came out to fix not only the pipes that were not hooked up, but also the wet insulation. Not surprisingly, they had to come back and fix several other leaks.

Frustrated, my mother and several other people got together and voiced their concern to both Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Mark Sanford, whose own house is severely affected by toxic mold at the moment, so I knew he would have the education and expertise in handling this situation like a true professional, unlike mosy physicians who are quite ignorant and thick-headed when it comes to blatant technical know-how that has been around for thousands of years. The two responded immediately and said they would turn the matter back over to the Labor board.  It worked and we were on our our merry way to settling this problem in a logical, mature way. 

As it stands, my mother did fill out a complaint form regarding her mortgage to them. They said because of case overload, her questions will be answered within 150 days. She was told to go this route by Graham's secretary to see what happens.

The worst part about this whole ordeal is that apparently nobody in this neighborhood knows that they have Housing and Urban Development homes. My mother only found out when she called the manufacturer for the first time and he asked for her HUD number. While she and most of her neighbors do have HUD numbers, everyone seems to be missing their HUD booklet that Graham's office told her that she should have. This booklet is supposed to have important information inside regarding a homeowner's rights and who to contact if they feel they have been treated unfairly. Apparently, by law a homeowner is supposed to know he or she is purchasing a HUD home. A HUD home is a low-income home, and the state receives money from the federal government for putting these homes in. The program encourages homeownership for low-income people. Each state has an entity that oversees the program. In South Carolina, it is the Labor, Licensing and Regulation Board. The main HUD offices are in Washington, D.C.

Yes, many residents in Ocean Breeze want to know where the accountability is for letting people move into homes with these serious problems. If the Labor board was doing its job by making sure that homes were sold to people without serious defects, then how can it be that several homes have experienced the same problems? And what could be more important to the people of the Grand Strand than to make sure that things like this do not happen in the first place? Not surprisingly, the board did respond by calling these cases "isolated incidents."

Now, if the homes of these people who sit on this board had serious defects, do you think this would be the case? I think not.

Last Updated (Monday, 04 October 2004)

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