September 07, 2008
The trouble with the TRCC
You already know how I feel about the Texas Residential Construction Commission. So, this story about how they're trying to stave off death by Sunset Committee may seem promising for them, but as far as I can tell they aren't addressing in any fashion the biggest problem with the agency, which is conveniently buried in the last two paragraphs:
The agency sends inspectors to review home complaints but does not have authority to force builders to make repairs or offer compensation. Homeowners must complete the lengthy process before filing a lawsuit.
"No other regulatory agency has a program with such a potentially devastating effect on consumers' ability to seek their own remedies," the sunset report said.
The whole purpose of the TRCC is to prevent lawsuits against homebuilders. It's tort "reform" by another name. It's no coincidence that the biggest supporters of Texans for Lawsuit Reform are builders - Bob Perry, the Weekleys, Leo Linbeck, and so forth. They have been very successful at getting legislation passed to shield them from liabilities. It's great for their bottom lines, not so good for consumers, as we know from the TRCC experience. Maybe if they gave the TRCC some real enforcement powers, and made the process less burdensome and more geared towards equitable resolutions before a lawsuit could be filed, then there'd be something worth salvaging. But since the whole point of the TRCC is to tilt the playing field in favor of the builders, throwing it out is the only sensible solution. It can't be allowed to exist as it is, and since it doesn't want to change in a meaningful way, I say kill it.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 07, 2008 to That's our Lege
The problem is Bob Perry and his checkbook. I doubt the Republicans will risk watching one of their largest funding bases dry up because they decided to do the right thing finally. At best they will amend the statutes to allow more enforcement but will keep the "arbitration" firmly in place. In order to keep homebuyers from suing homebuilders.
I personally would not buy a home that has been built in the past 25 years without a major inspection. Too many things go unnoticed in the standard inspections.
One thing that should be put in place is an online registry so a potential homebuyer can see how many complaints have been filed against a homebuilder and where the homes involved in the complaints are.
It's the same principle at work with regard to the ongoing problem of substandard apartment complexes and condominiums.
The condemnation of Park Memorial is a good example of how innocent homebuyers find themselves losing their investment. How many homebuyers at Park Memorial asked an inspector to check out the property? And more importantly, how many complaints had been filed with the city regarding that parking garage?
Some of the homeowners knew. They just didn't want to pay the assessments in order to correct the problem. And just hoped it wouldn't get worse.
Are they really any different from a homebuilder who sells a house knowing the construction is substandard?
Texas is a "buyer beware" state and with good reason.