Longmont: Construction Defect Ordinance Debate

The Longmont City Council had a “pre-session” meeting on Jan. 12 during which supporters and opponents of construction defects legislation debated the issue. There was little time for questions and no public comments were allowed.

Cherie Talbot of the Denver Metro Homebuilders Association told the Council that liability insurance for condominiums costs developers three times more than insurance for apartments because of the potential for HOA lawsuits. Attorney David McLain, who represents builders in construction defect lawsuits said HOAs don’t have to prove a builder did anything wrong; instead they can sue over technical building code violations found by special consultants, whether they could cause the owners problems or not.

Representatives from a national organization called the Community Associations Institute argued that Colorado has some of the strictest standards for litigation in the nation. They said the lack of condos is a problem across the nation and is not a result of the legal environment in Colorado.

Finally, Representative Jonathan Singer, who sponsored a state construction defects bill in 2014 and 2015, asked the Council to hold off considering its own ordinance until the end of the session (May), saying that the legislature may solve the problem this year. He will not sponsor the bill again this year. Rep. Mike Foote (a former Assistant DA) told the Council he didn’t believe state statute was the reason for the lack of condos.

Ultimately the Council decided not to pursue a local ordinance now. They want more information from the City Attorney and will wait until March to see if the legislature will solve the issue and revise state statute, which would render a local ordinance unnecessary. City Manager Dominguez said the City will watch the legislature and could move the item to an earlier agenda if needed. Councilors Joan Peck and Polly Christensen voted against that motion to discuss the topic again, saying market demand is responsible for condo scarcity, not state law.

Note: Loveland’s City Attorney is drafting a local ordinance. The Fort Collins City Council will discuss implementing its own construction defects ordinance on Feb. 2.

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