A PREVIOUS VERSION OF THIS COLUMN INCORRECTLY STATED THAT VOTERS APPROVED THE “Homeowner Protection Act of 2007.” THEY DID NOT. IT WAS STATE LAWMAKERS THAT APPROVED THE MEASURE. IT DID NOT GO TO VOTERS.
I’ll make this simple for you because city council members think you’re stupid.
Let’s say you and your spouse make $80,000 a year, and you want to buy a condo. You can’t even begin to afford the million-dollar madness going on around Downtown Denver. So you look to the burbs for something around $200,000 that you want to live in. Do you choose a $200,000 condo in Wheat Ridge, where builders have to live under a state law protecting condo owners from being ripped off by crappy builders who build crappy condo complexes? Or do you choose a $200,000 condo in Aurora, where the city has sided with condo builders, making it much, much harder to get the courts to force builders to living up to their guarantee and to fix it?
Now remember. Every council person in Aurora thinks you’ll flock here because, hell, you’re desperate and you’re stupid and don’t know any better or care.
You really can’t come to any other conclusion after city lawmakers this week did an end run around a huge majority of state lawmakers who said, “No, we will not allow builders to get away with ripping off people in Colorado by building crappy condos and town houses and then skipping town.”
State lawmakers killed Senate Bill 177 earlier this year, because it does just what the Aurora measure will now do since it was approved unanimously by city council. The measure, by design, is created to make it as difficult as possible for homeowners stuck with expensive shoddy construction problems to get to court to have a judge decide who’s to blame for sinking foundations, crumbling facades and buckling parking lots.
We’ve been here as a state before. State lawmakers refused to enact laws making it easier to sue corrupt builders who sucker condo owners, so state lawmalers closed loopholes allowing builders to leave condo owners to have to eat it in 2007. The measure that Aurora city lawmakers just passed undoes what those changes did. It also goes around nearly the same changes that state legislators said no to just a few months ago.
City lawmakers are reacting to the demands of the building industry that say that it’s so easy to sue builders in Colorado and that building insurance is just too expensive to justify building “affordable” condos.
You would have to be stupid to believe that line, or you would have to be in the very deep, very pervasive pockets of homebuilders and contractors. And, gee, who gives boatloads of campaign contributions to the city and county officials that control their bread and butter? Yup.
Here’s what lawmakers and builders aren’t telling you: 1. Homebuilders are now and at any time welcome, neigh, encouraged to rectify crappy construction problems before anyone ever says “lawyer.” Even before that, builders are welcome, neigh, encouraged, to do the best job possible at making sure they don’t build crap in the first place. Likewise, the city is welcome, neigh, encouraged to have building departments keep the crap from going up. 2. Crap happens, though. An unscrupulous subcontractor uses the wrong concrete mix and basement floors start to crumble. The builder didn’t do it, but the builder got paid. The builder is welcome, neigh, encouraged, to fix it on their own and then sue the subcontractor.
See where this is going? The reason that Colorado state lawmakers approved the Homeowner Protection Act of 2007 is because over and over again in Colorado, middle-class homeowners were left holding the bag of crap.
Well, Aurora just handed the bag back to people trying to find a way to get an affordable part of the American dream.
What this means is that buying an affordable Aurora condo just became a gamble, a gamble you won’t have to take if you buy in Westminster, Arvada or Englewood. You’re gambling that if the home you buy has a problem, the builder will honorably fix it. And you’re gambling that if they don’t, and Colorado and Aurora history is piled high with crap that builders refused to fix, that all the hoops city council members just created for their constituents to jump through don’t prevent them from getting the chance to make their case to a court. That’s all ripped-off homeowners want, is to tell their side of the story to a judge. Because even now, under the law that Colorado voters demanded, it’s just a day in court. If you don’t have a case against a homebuilder, you lose.
Conveniently, it appears the Aurora city council has taken it upon themselves to save you that suspense if you get stuck buying a crappy condo that the homebuilder won’t fix, because now, you lose in Aurora no matter what.
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