Lawmakers delay bipartisan construction defects bill for a third time, remain hopeful a fix is in sight
Author: Ernest Luning - April 12, 2017 - Updated: April 13, 2017
Sponsors of a bipartisan bill to reform Colorado’s construction defects law tapped the brakes again Wednesday, delaying for a third time the legislation’s scheduled committee hearing in order to spend more time negotiating the fix, lawmakers said.
House Bill 1279 has been scheduled for its first hearing three Wednesdays in a row now, but each time the hearing approaches key House sponsors have asked that it be delayed a week, citing unresolved concerns over details in the bill.
Groups representing builders and homeowners are at odds over some aspects of the bill, which would require a majority of unit owners in a condominium project to approve filing a complaint over defective construction.
“We’re still at the table negotiating,” Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, one of the bill’s sponsors, told The Colorado Statesman after announcing the delay. “There are no illusions about how difficult this issue is, and if there’s time on the clock, we should use it.”
On Wednesday, there were 28 days left in the General Assembly’s 120-day regular session.
The spokeswoman for a coalition representing builders, business interests, civic leaders and affordable-housing advocates, a key negotiator at the table, told The Statesman the members of the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance remain optimistic.
“We are working in good faith with the bill sponsors to produce a bipartisan bill that encourages more condo development while protecting consumers,” said Kathie Barstnar, co-chair of the HOA coalition and executive director of NAIOP Colorado, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. “Our goal has always been to pass a bill that actually makes a difference – that gets builders and developers to start building again while protecting the legal rights of individual homeowners. We are hopeful that with this additional time, we can find common ground.”
Representatives of homeowners; associations and others across the table declined to comment Wednesday but said they remain optimistic a solution is within reach.
The bill is part of a bipartisan package intended to address complaints by developers that Colorado law makes it too easy for condo associations to file multi-million dollar class action lawsuits, which they blame for the near disappearance of condo construction in the state in recent years. The builders want to make it harder for homeowner associations to file the lawsuits, but organizations representing condo owners and lawyers who represent them in the lawsuits say they’re unwilling to bargain away homeowners’ right to protect what’s often their most valuable asset.
The main sticking point in negotiations continues to be a process known as “tolling,” or stopping the clock on what amounts to the statute of limitations on filing a legal claim for defective construction, but Garnett said there are also other technical issues still unresolved.
The bill is scheduled for a hearing next Wednesday, April 19, before the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.