Once again, state lawmakers are arguing about changing construction defect laws.
At the heart of this issue is condo buildings-- specifically, the lack of them.
Those who want to change the law argue it's too easy to sue the builder of a condo and get a big jury award.
Those who want to keep the law how it is argue the homeowners need to be able to get their day in court if the builder messed up.
There's a lot of money on both sides of this issue. Builders would rather not worry about being sued by condo owners. Trial lawyers would rather not lose clients because lawsuits become impossible.
Caught in the middle are real people. One side points to real people who've had problems with their condos and needed to sue to make it right. The other side points to real people who want affordable homes and have a hard time finding condos to buy.
They argue that the reason builders are putting up apartments all over town instead of condos is a fear of lawsuits.
“In a healthy economy… you're going to have 20-25 percent of all of your home units are going to be condos or townhomes,” said Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) “In Colorado, we have 2-3 percent. So we have brought bad policy that's taken away home ownership opportunities.”
Hill sponsored SB 156, one of several bills on the subject this year, which aims to curb lawsuits against builders.
But his side can't prove fear of lawsuits is the main reason developers build apartments instead of condos.
And there is another obvious reason for it: rents are high!
There's a lot of money to be made by renting units instead of selling them. That's all thanks to the market: supply and demand.
On the flip-side, you have people arguing builders should be sued if they build bad condos.
“What we need is we need quality developers and builders in this city that are not afraid to stand behind their product,” said Jonathan Harris, an advocate for condo owners who has had to sue over a defect on his property in Denver. “The homeowners should not be paying the price for them.”
That side is trying not to focus on the idea that it could be cheaper to settle these things out of court.
The builders do have one big piece of protection in Colorado law already: homeowners have to give builders a chance to inspect and fix the problem before filing a lawsuit.
The debate at the Capitol is whether to do something more to protect builders, like requiring mediation or arbitration instead of court or forcing all of the homeowners in the development to vote before suing.