The West Virginia Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Board was created by the 1988 Acts of the Legislature (West Virginia Code §21-9-3). The Board is designated as the state administrative agency for the administration and enforcement of Federal HUD Code Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards and the West Virginia Manufactured Housing Construction Standards.
Issue 1: The Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Board helps Protect the Citizens of West Virginia.
The main services provided by the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Board include: 1) The licensing of all manufactured housing manufacturers, dealers, or contractors in West Virginia; 2) Site inspection of consumers' homes to determine non-compliance; and 3) Conducting licensee disciplinary hearings to ensure consumer effective recourse. Each of these services plays an integral role in the safety and protection of consumers. As of January 2002, there are 188 active dealers who are licensed in West Virginia, 88 active manufacturers, and 150 active contractors. The Board conducted 241 disciplinary hearings from 1999 to 2001. Most of these have resulted in fines and reprimands. In addition, there have been three licenses suspended and four licenses revoked since 1999. If the Board was not in existence, manufactured housing standards would decline; consumers would have a more difficult time in getting any defects repaired; and they would have limited assurance of recourse against unscrupulous representatives of the industry.
The Legislative Auditor recommends that the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Board be continued. The Legislative Auditor also determines that conducting a full performance evaluation is not in the public's interest.
Issue 2: The Board has made Progress in Completing the Consumer Complaint Process Within 90 days.
The Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Board is mandated by statute to investigate all written complaints and take administrative action within 90 days. The Board received 151 written complaints in FY 2001 and investigated 141 of them. It took the Board an average of 119 days to investigate and take administrative action on those 141 complaints. However, the Board has made progress in the amount of time it takes to complete the consumer complaint process. This is evident in the first six months of FY 2002, in which the Board inspected 72 complaints. The average time to investigate and take administrative action fell to 82 days for those complaints. While the drop in the average number of days shows significant improvement, there are still individual cases that exceeded 90 days; therefore, there is still room for improvement.
The Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Board should strive to complete the investigation and take appropriate action within the 90 day mandate in West Virginia Code §21-9-11a.
Issue 3: The Board is not Performing Dealer Lot Audits and has had a Reduction in Installation Audits.
The Division of Labor receives $9 a floor from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for every home shipped into West Virginia each year for the enforcement of the HUD Code. This revenue is used in part to conduct dealer lot audits on an annual basis to assure product compliance with standards and regulations. The compliance officers use a checklist when conducting these audits to look for any transit damage. They also check for any dealer alterations such as missing appliances or smoke detectors. There are 188 active dealers currently licensed in West Virginia. The Board's goal is to complete an audit on all of the active, licensed dealers who are located in West Virginia, which amount to 111. However, no dealer lot audits have been conducted since FY 1999. The Board also has a goal of completing a certain number of installation audits each fiscal year. These installation audits are conducted to ensure licensee compliance with standards and regulations pertaining to things such as the foundation and construction of the home. Forty-eight installation audits were performed in FY 1999. This number fell to 35 in FY 2000 and dropped to just two in FY 2001.
The Manufactured Housing Section should start conducting dealer lot audits and needs to increase the number of installation audits performed in order to maximize the safety and protection of consumers as well as to abide by HUD requirements.