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Colorado House Bill 1279 stalls over 120-day unit owner election period

| 3 min read
Former Associate
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With the session more than halfway through, the Colorado Legislature’s 2017 attempts at meaningful construction defect reform may fail again.  This year, the Legislature did not attempt a single-bill construction defect overhaul like those that have failed over the last half-decade.  Rather, it has sought to enact reforms on a piecemeal basis, with several smaller bills addressing specific issues that have been affecting condominium construction along Colorado’s booming Front Range. 

This new approach appears to be headed towards much the same outcome as the failed efforts of the past.  House Bill 1169 would have given developers a statutory right to repair before being sued by homeowners, and Senate Bill 156 would mandate arbitration or mediation.  Both have been assigned to the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee (often viewed as the “bill-kill committee”), and have little chance of being resuscitated this session.

This was also the fate of House Bill 1279, but bipartisan support had many believing that it still had a chance of passing—at least until last week.  House Bill 1279 would require an executive board of a homeowners association to satisfy several prerequisites before suing a developer or builder, namely to (1) notify all unit owners and the developer or builder against whom the lawsuit is being considered; (2) call an association meeting where the builder or developer could present relevant facts and arguments; and (3) get approval from the majority of the unit owners after providing detailed disclosures about the lawsuit, including the potential costs and benefits thereof.   

Although it sits in a “bill-kill committee,” this bipartisan bill co-authored by Representative Lori Saine (R) and Alec Garnett (D) garners support from across the aisles, including from Speaker Crisanta Duran (D).  The bill therefore appeared to have a good chance of surviving the kill committee, and maybe even becoming law. 

But a squabble over a few minor issues—principally the 120-day period for homeowners to hold an election on whether to pursue a defects claim—has stalled this bill yet again, and may well sink it.  As the Denver Post reports, this relatively minor dispute derailed a March 29, 2017 hearing on House Bill 1279, bringing negotiations on the bill to a standstill.  While some legislators remain optimistic, the bill was not addressed as planned at the April 5, 2017 committee meeting or as rescheduled at the April 12, 2017 committee meeting, and it does not appear on the committee’s upcoming schedule.

Only time will tell whether this compromise bill can move forward.