06 May 2014

Colorado Senate rejects bill to limit homeowner rights in construction defect disputes

Yesterday, the Colorado State Senate's Judiciary Committee declined to hear a bill that would have gutted homeowner rights in construction defect disputes. Earlier in the day, a divided committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs had approved SB 220 following two hours of heated testimony from both sides.

This decision effectively ended the proponents' last-minute efforts to pass a bill before the session ends tomorrow. The bill had been the subject of rumor since a similar measure failed in 2013, and potential drafts had begun appearing on the Internet in March of this year. Nevertheless, the sponsors did not introduce their legislation until 30 April 2014, just days before the end of the session. Although the proponents obtained an initial extension of time in hopes of getting the bill to the floor in the final seventy-two hours, Senate leaders did not feel that sufficient time remained to consider the bill and potential amendments.

“The speaker and I gave more notice of what we wanted than they’ve had on any other negotiation. And I can’t think of an instance where anybody was more ignored,” Senate President Morgan Carroll told the Denver Business Journal. “So, when you drop a bill in the last few days of session that’s squarely hostile to the rights of consumers and incorporates none of the suggestions that leaders in both houses give you, it’s an exercise in frustration.”

Jesse Witt of The Witt Law Firm was among those who were present to testify against the bill. He has previously noted that, although quality control and insurance costs have recently increased for condominium construction, taking away consumer rights is not the proper way to address these issues or encourage more affordable housing. At yesterday's hearing, University of Colorado economist Jane Lillydahl offered testimony echoing this view and refuting the notion that limiting builder liability would benefit the industry.

While the issue is dead for this year, supporters vowed to bring the bill back in the 2015 session. Please contact The Witt Law Firm for more information on this subject or other construction law issues.