DENVER (AP) – Colorado House lawmakers said Wednesday they’ve reached a bipartisan deal to help address the state’s pent-up demand for more housing, particularly multifamily condominium developments.
For years, lawmakers, developers and homeowners’ groups have sparred over the rules for suing builders over faulty construction. Developers have argued that those liability rules have made it too expensive for them to build.
Insurance rates to cover lawsuits have skyrocketed, leading many builders to avoid condo construction. Republicans long have pushed to make it harder for homeowners to sue builders, which theoretically could promote more building.
Democratic Rep. Alec Garnett, the assistant majority leader, and assistant House Minority Leader Rep. Cole Wist told a news conference that a bill heard in committee Wednesday would overhaul the process before anyone heads to court.
It would provide a 90-day period in which homeowners in a multifamily complex may discover faulty construction and decide whether to sue. It would require that homeowners meet with developers on any problems prior to a vote.
Currently, the boards of homeowners associations can decide whether to sue, not the homeowners themselves.
The bill helps address longtime concerns about the availability and affordability of condo projects, a host of supporters said, including Gov. John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper said Colorado’s red-hot job market was threatened by the lack of housing.
A solution has eluded lawmakers for years, said Wist, who also brokered the deal with Republican Rep. Lori Saine.
In the absence of state action, some 17 Colorado cities, including Colorado Springs and Lakewood, have adopted their own measures on homebuilder liability.
“We have seniors who are staying in single-family homes and who want to step down, and the product just isn’t there,” said Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul.
Condo construction in metropolitan Denver has dropped from 20 percent of all new housing construction in 2005 to just 2 percent today, according to the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance, a group of builders, business associations and other organizations.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says housing inventory in Denver is at its lowest level in more than a decade.
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