State lawmakers have agonized for years over how to spur more multi-family housing development in Colorado, where the population is booming, home prices are soaring and the rental market is crowding. Developers and builders say the risk of being sued for construction defects (like, say, a leaky roof or a shoddy foundation) deters them from building condominiums — assuming they're able to get insurance to do the work, which can be difficult or impossible. They've asked for legislative reform to reduce their exposure to litigation for years now.
Such reform is highly contentious, with consumer advocates fighting to preserve homebuyers' access to legal recourse and affordable housing advocates questioning whether cutting developers this break will necessarily produce units attainable to those most squeezed in the current market.
A compromise bill passed the House on April 24. HB-1279 would require approval from a majority of homeowners association members before the HOA board can initiate legal proceedings against a general contractor or subcontractor. HOA boards would have to report expected costs of the proposed litigation to members beforehand and have 90 days to hold a members' election after deciding to pursue a claim. Both Democrats and Republicans called the bill a "breakthrough," and it's expected to pass the Senate soon. Related bills covering other aspects of the issue, like insurance premiums and binding arbitration, are still alive, too.