DWIGHT SCHAR'S COMPANY ACCUSED OF CORPORATE BLACKMAIL BY US SENATOR
"Homebuyers shouldn't have to give up their right to their day in court just to ensure they can live in a home that's safe, structurally sound, and meets minimum code requirements," Residents and homebuyers in Dwight Schar's Ryan Homes are accusing the company gauge order.
Donna and Robert Cobb went a night without heat after Duke Energy shut off their gas last Thursday.
Duke Energy deemed it was necessary due to a dangerous amount of gas circulating through their home, all because of a pipe regulator that Ryan Homes failed to install, they said.
"They hadn't put a regulator on the line, so it was just full gas coming in," Robert Cobb said.
The smell was overwhelming.
The Cobbs had noticed problems during pre-construction and tried to get out of their contract with Ryan Homes, but say they were "forced" into buying the home anyways.
"We were told that if we were to get out of our contract, our life would be 'a living hell,'" Donna Cobb said.
Ryan Homes officials did not immediately return calls on Friday.
The Cobbs' story is similar to others locally and across the nation, as revealed in an investigation published late last month by The Enquirer/USA Today.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland, addressed growing concerns over Ryan Homes' arbitration clauses Friday at a Cincinnati press conference with the Cobbs and other Ohio families affected by the fourth-largest home builder in the country.
Brown and senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland partnered to address Ryan Homes and its parent company, NVR, Inc., in a letter sent earlier this month. The letter asked the company to remove the arbitration provisions from their agreements.
Ryan Homes has offered to repair damaged homes only if homeowners agree to mandatory arbitration and non-disclosure agreements prohibiting them from talking about the issues publicly.
Brown called this policy "corporate blackmail."
"Homebuyers shouldn't have to give up their right to their day in court just to ensure they can live in a home that's safe, structurally sound, and meets minimum code requirements," Brown said at the press conference. "Ultimately, these legal clauses are about one thing – big companies silencing victims and giving more power to corporations that already have too much power over the lives of working Americans."
Since these homeowner horror stories have been highlighted in the media, more Ohioans have come forward.
On Friday, Brown stood by three new families who he said have fallen victim to Ryan Homes' "coercive" practices.
Eric VonBusch, of Milford in suburban Cincinnati, built his home in 2013. The house has flooded five times since then. He said he's looking at up to $25,000 to refinish his finished basement due to water damage.
"I just wish people would do the right thing," he said. "And man up and if you're putting your name on something. Just stand behind it."
Derek Wright, of Wadsworth, near Cleveland, was up on his roof putting up Christmas lights last year when he noticed something wrong with his shingles.
There were exposed nails over the entire roof.
After months of back and forth with Ryan Homes, Wright said they ultimately refused to settle on repair funding because Wright would not sign a contract that would prohibit him from telling his mortgage backers of the transaction.
"I'm afraid that Ryan Homes will sue me," Wright said.
Brown said that he has tried to bring this issue to the Senate floor in the past, but special interest lobbyists have prevented it from passing.
NVR, Inc., which owns nationally-known Ryan Homes, responded to the senators' letter last week, rejecting Brown's "anti-consumer" accusations.
Brown is not backing down.
"Ryan Homes needs to drop this coercive legal fine print and stand by its warranty," Brown said Friday. "And President Trump and politicians in Washington need to stand up for all consumers and ban these forced arbitration clauses altogether."
The Enquirer has reached out to NVR, Inc. but has not received a statement.