These are all of the Housing bills proposed in the 2019 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill.  If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

Senate

Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

SB19-180: Eviction Legal Defense Fund PASSED AMENDED
SB19-225: Authorize Local Governments to Stabilize Rent KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

MEDIUM

MINOR

SB19-226: Voluntary Housing Agreements Unincorporated Areas

HB19-1011 Scope of Manufactured Home Sales Tax Exemption (Tate) [Hooton] TECHNICAL BILL

From Statutory Revision Committee

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Fixes the definition of factory built housing in a sales tax bill passed last year. It was pointing to the wrong place in statutes that limited its application.

Long Description: n/a

HB19-1075 Tax Credit Employer-Assisted Housing Pilot Program [Wilson]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Short Description:

Creates a pilot program for employer-assisted housing projects in rural areas. Gives a state income tax credit between 2019 and 2023 for donations made to a sponsor that is solely used for costs of an employer-assisted affordable housing activity in a rural area.  Amount of credit is 20% and limited to $400 in a year. Affordable is defined targeting household with less than 120% of the median income of the area.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Affordable housing is a crisis in many parts of Colorado, and the ability to find a home near work becomes even more difficult in rural areas. This program tests out the theory that offering this tax incentive for employer-assisted housing will help alleviate this problem in the state’s rural areas. Employer-assisted housing is an increasingly popular way for employers to retain employees, and usually consists of help with rent or mortgage payments. This has the potential to be a win-win-win: a win for employers keeping employees happy and housed near work, a win for employees getting affordable housing, and a win for the state.

Arguments Against:

The amount of this tax credit is not enough to spur the large scale investments required to truly make a dent in affordable housing. Limiting it even further by requiring it goes to employer-assisted housing makes it even less likely to make the difference we need. Finally, limiting it to rural areas ignores the substantial affordable housing crisis we have in non-rural areas of the state. All of these limits adds up to not enough of an impact.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1075

HB19-1078 Landowner Consent Listing National Register (Marble, Garcia) [Lewis]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Requires the state historical society to obtain the approval of each owner of the land and property described that provided private information or let people onto their property to gather information prior to making a multiple property form submission request to the keeper of the national register of historic places. Right now only a majority is required under federal law and there is a backdoor on multi-property forms where people's private information can become publicly visible without their consent.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The listing of your property on a national, publicly visible database is something every property owner should have veto power over. In addition, the federal government isn't doing its job to make sure property owners have consented to having their property placed on the registry, individual property owners have had their property improperly presented to the registry and their information made public.

Arguments Against:

There are many benefits to being listed, including access to multiple tax credits and codes. Listing does nothing to the owner’s property rights, they are free to sell, alter, or demolish the property. So we should not let the view of one owner potentially derail the desires of the rest. As for the problems with the federal listing, the issue that this bill identities is with a form that does not actually enact the listing. There is a separate form that does that, and that is what requires the property owner's consent.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1078

HB19-1098 Deeds to Convey Real Property (Lee) [Gray]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Allows licensed title companies to prepare deeds for the conveyance of real property. Any deed prepared by a title company containing a warranty must include a limitation on the warranty of title and use the phrase “subject to statutory exceptions.” Currently only licensed real estate brokers can do this, although they can (and do) delegate the authority to a title company. The broker is then liable.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Title companies are a natural fit to do this without needing a broker, and it makes sense that the title company should be liable for errors, not the broker, which this bill will allow. We’re basically already operating in this world, except that right now brokers, who are not the true experts when compared to title companies, are being put in a supervisory role.

Arguments Against:

Real estate brokers are the point of contact for the buyer and seller when it comes to property. They are generally the ones selecting the title company and the consumer should be able to hold the broker, the person the consumer has placed trust in, responsible for the process, not some 3rd party forced on them at the end of the process.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1098

HB19-1106 Rental Application Fees (Pettersen) [Titone, Gonzales-Gutierrez]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Limits the rental application fee to cover the landlord’s costs for processing the application and requires disclose of how the fee will be used to the prospective tenant. Forbids charging different fees for different units at the same time. Also requires the landlord to provide written notice of their selection criteria and grounds for rejection prior to accepting applications or fees, and forbids them from considering any rental or credit history beyond seven years in the past. Any leftover funds in the fee must be returned to the applicant. Also requires a notice of any adverse action on their application and the reasons for it. Violating any of these provisions causes liability of twice the rental fee charged plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Long Description: N/A

Arguments For:

First, this provides a check on using someone’s distant past to deny housing. This is important for people who had bad credit but have turned things around. For fees, this limits the ability of landlords to abuse the application process. Fees should not be profit centers, but only cover costs. Also, tenants have the right to know beforehand what the criteria is, so that they will not waste their own money (and the landlord’s time) on futile efforts. Finally, the requirement for notice of adverse action keeps everyone honest: no rejecting applicants for invalid reasons like race or lifestyle and no phantom adjustments to the typical rental agreement for no reason.

Arguments Against:

This is a cumbersome process that is not necessary and an infringement on the rights of the landlord. First, they should be able to judge for themselves what risk someone’s complete credit history poses, the landlord is the one who will be on the hook if someone cannot or will not pay. Obviously they are already required to follow all discrimination laws for housing. They should also be allowed to set their own fees and keep their own standards. This bill may create grist for frivolous lawsuits over fees and so called adverse action notices.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1106

HB19-1118 Time Period to Cure Lease Violation (Williams) [Jackson, Galindo]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Short Description:

Changes the number of days a landlord must wait before initiating eviction proceedings based on failure to pay or violation or violation of a lease agreement, other than substantial violations. Currently it is 3 days from the notice date, this bill changes it to 14 10. It also exempts employer provided housing. It also forbids landlords from automatically evicting someone for any subsequent violation of the lease agreement (without giving the lessee a chance to fix the violation). Landlords are still allowed to evict someone without allowing them to fix their violation if the violation is the same as a previous violation. In this case the landlord must give 14 10 days notice of eviction.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This gives tenants who make a mistake a chance to stay in their home. Three days is a ridiculously small amount of time, particularly if the problem is rent, to fix a problem. Landlords can still get rid of tenants who have the same problem twice (most likely fail to pay their rent on time twice), but previously no notice was required at all, so someone could be out on the street the same day they found out about their eviction.

Arguments Against:

14 10 days is too long to expect landlords to go without receiving rent or to allow a violation of the lease agreement, which may be something that bothers other tenants. Three days is a sufficient amount of time for someone to find out about a problem and fix it, this is a business and a legal document someone has agreed to, not a charity.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1118

HB19-1135 Clarify Income Tax Credit for Retrofitting a Home (Tate, Winter) [Gray] TECHNICAL BILL

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Clarifies that the income tax credit for retrofitting a residence is available for changes made that benefit a qualified individual’s dependent.

Long Description: n/a

HB19-1170 Residential Tenants Health and Safety Act (Williams, Bridges) [Jackson, Weissman]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Short Description:

Modifies the conditions for a breach of the implicit guarantee in every rental agreement that the property is fit for human habitation, the method for notifying the landlord, and the time limits for the landlord to address the problem. It also adds mold and absence of functioning appliances (if they are part of the property agreement) as breaches. Also removes all exceptions to this habitability guarantee, requires landlords to house tenants in reasonable comparable units or pay for housing in a temporary location until property is habitable again, and allows tenants to deduct rent in certain circumstances, terminate a rental agreement, and have easier access to the court system.

Long Description:

Modifies the conditions for a breach of the implicit guarantee in every rental agreement that the property is fit for human habitation, the method for notifying the landlord, and the time limits for the landlord to address the problem. Uninhabitable, under the bill, is a combination of meeting the conditions for uninhabitability and the landlord receiving notice but not commencing remedial action within 24 hours if the condition is dangerous, 96 hours for mold abatement, and 72 hours for all other breaches. The bill expands notification to include electronic notification. It also adds mold and absence of functioning appliances (if they are part of the property agreement) as breaches. Also removes all exceptions to this habitability guarantee (previously could have language in rental agreement that required acceptance by the tenant of some habitability responsibilities and mobile home parks, single family residential premises, and four or fewer units sharing common walls were also exempt), requires landlords to house tenants in reasonable comparable units (previously was up to landlord) or pay for housing in a temporary location until property is habitable again, and allows tenants to deduct rent in certain circumstances, terminate a rental agreement, and have easier access to the court system. Rent deduction can occur if the landlord takes no action to repair the problem. The tenant must provide 10 days’ notice and at least one estimate of the cost to repair the issue. That is the amount that can be deducted from rent if the tenant repairs the problem by utilizing an unrelated professional (cannot do themselves, except for single-home properties where the two parties agree the tenant can do the repairs, tenant may also decide to replace malfunctioning appliance so long as it is the same quality as the original). Landlord can provide own estimate, but must be from a professional not related to the landlord. If the same condition reoccurs within 6 months then the tenant can terminate the rental agreement with 14 days notice.


Arguments For:

First, mold is a dangerous condition and deserves to be on this list, as does basic appliances which are necessary to live in the 21st century like a refrigerator. Second, the previous regime left way too much latitude in the hands of the landlord, who could decide for themselves if they wanted to house the tenant somewhere else(!) and could still merrily collect rent while do nothing while the tenant struggled through the court system to get relief. This bill requires landlords live up to the basic idea that all of their tenants have the right to live in a habitable space and if the landlord fails to keep up their end of the bargain, gives tenants the tools they need to force relief.

Arguments Against:

This bill goes too far in the wrong direction, by forcing landlords to become real estate agents if their tenants have a problem and the landlord doesn’t have any empty units, to deal with trigger-happy tenants who don’t understand that you can’t always get a repair person out immediately if the problem is more obscure, and to fix appliances in three days.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1170

HB19-1212 Recreate Homeowners' Association Community Manager Licensing [Titone, Duran]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Goal: To recreate the homeowners’ association community manager licensing program and implement the changes recommended in the 2017 sunset review report.

Description:

Recreates the licensing program for community association managers as it existed prior to sunsetting last year through 2024. Implements the recommendations of the state department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report to: allow some functions to be done by non-licensed people, scaling back supervision of apprentices, and removing acceptance of some private credentials as licensure qualifications and substituting specification by division of real estate director. Also creates a seven member advisory committee.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

From the 2017 sunset review report, “Community Association Managers have access to association funds, which is often in the millions of dollars. An association relies on these funds to ensure the common areas, facilities and, in some cases, buildings are well maintained, and the loss or mismanagement of these funds can be devastating to a community. As a result, the owners may suffer large assessments in order to bring the reserves up to an amount necessary to pay for the daily operation of the community, which may include water bills, trash removal, landscaping and professional services, not to mention necessary upkeep such as repainting buildings, replacing old roofs, repairing driveways and any emergency situations that may arise. Ensuring Community Association Managers do not steal or mishandle association funds is an important reason to regulate the industry.” In just two years of running the program two managers and one management entity were disciplined for theft. Not renewing this was a mistake last year.

Arguments Against:

This was not renewed last year because the situation doesn’t rise high enough to warrant the burdensome regulations of licensure. Of course theft is a problem, but we don’t require licensure in every case where theft is a possibility (and we have plenty of laws on the books to deal with theft). In fact, the sunset review report noted, the majority of enforcement actions were related to unlicensed activity, which is not a compelling reason to regulate an occupation or industry. Licensure is not the answer here.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1212

HB19-1228 Increase Tax Credit Allocation Affordable Housing (Zenzinger, Tate) [Bird, Titone]

PASSED

Goal: To increase the amount of affordable housing in the state by increasing available tax credits.

Description:

Doubles the annual cap on allowable tax credits from the state for affordable housing from $5 million to $10 million.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

We continue to have an affordable housing crisis in Colorado. Rent has risen 50% in Denver since 2010 and 50% of renters in the entire state spend more than 30% of their income on rent. As of last summer Denver had an estimated 32,000 unit housing shortage. And yet single-family homes are being built at the slowest rate in 40 years nationwide. We have never really recovered from the great recession when it comes to housing construction, which leads to a lack of inventory which leads to higher prices. So we need to do more to encourage affordable housing construction and expanding the tax credit cap should do just that by helping to lower costs for developers.

Arguments Against:

Rather trying to throw money and run away from this problem, we should be spending money to get at its roots in restrictive zoning, construction requirements, and shortage of construction labor. Make it easier to build large multi-unit dwellings for less money and we’ll see more housing. Dribbling out a few more million each year in tax credits may not have an appreciable effect.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1228

HB19-1238 Clarification of Manufactured Housing Standards (Winter, Priola) [Gray, Van Winkle]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To remove requirement that manufactured homes built here for sale in other states meet Colorado requirements.

Description:

Removes requirement that factory built housing that is substantially altered or repaired have state housing director’s insignia of approval. Also removes requirement that housing being built in another state bear the director’s insignia of approval.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Current law makes it extremely difficult for factory built housing to be sold out of state because it must meet both Colorado requirements and the requirements of the state is going to be sold to and these requirements can sometimes conflict. We had four housing factories in Colorado in 2007 and now we have zero. We are losing economic opportunity with our current laws and making our own homes here in Colorado more expensive because they have to be shipped into the state. If the house isn’t going to be in Colorado, we shouldn’t care if it meets our standards.

Arguments Against: n/a

HB19-1245 Affordable Housing Funding From Vendor Fee Changes [Weissman]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Goal: To increase funding for the state housing fund and affordable housing, by lowering amount of sales tax vendors keep.

Description:

Raises the overall percentage of state sales tax vendors keep from 3.33% to 4% but puts a $1,000 monthly cap on the amount vendors can keep. The extra money remitted as a result goes to the state housing fund except that $15 million is diverted in 2019-20, $43 million in 2020-21, and $1 million each year afterwards to go to the state reinsurance plan and is exempt from Colorado Regional Tourism Act. The bill requires the fund to spend 33% of this money on affordable housing projects for households whose annual income is 30% or less of the area’s median income.

Additional Information:

Vendors with multiple locations are required to submit under one account with department of revenue. $1,000 cap applies regardless of number of separate locations. Changes in state vendor fee do not apply to local governments that use the state fee for their own. $1 $1.2 million is appropriated from general fund to make software changes necessary to implement the bill withheld from the transfer to administer the program in the first year, then $1.5 million thereafter.

Arguments For:

50% of Colorado rentals statewide are cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of income on housing. Independent analysis shows that we are facing a deficit of over 20,000 housing units until at least 2025. So we have a definite housing crisis, and it is well-known. We need more housing of all sorts and in particular more affordable housing. Where to get it is interesting. Colorado is one of the few states that does not have a cap on the sales tax vendor fee. Right now, large companies with millions in sales get to keep that 3.3% no matter how high their sales get. And it’s a very small number of companies that are benefitting from this: fewer than 2% of all Colorado retailers retain nearly 67% of all of the vendor fees: more than $50 million annually. Rather than lining the pockets of big businesses, this bill takes that money and puts it to work for Colorado in our housing market which in addition to creating more housing also injects the money back into the state economy. As a side-benefit, the rate actually increases for all of the smaller businesses that aren’t bumping up against this cap anyway.

Arguments Against:

There is no such thing as free money, so the money that is being taken away from businesses in the form of higher sales tax requirements may come right out consumer’s wallets in the form of higher prices. The bill also has no self-correcting mechanism if we reach a time where housing is not a major problem in Colorado. We also have enormous education and transportation funding needs in this state.

We shouldn't divert this money for two years (or large chunks of it anyway) to fund a healthcare reinsurance plan that should be born by the people making money in healthcare: hospitals and insurance companies.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1245

HB19-1272 Housing Authority Property in Colorado New Energy Improvement District (Winter, Priola) [Bird]

PASSED

Goal: To allow housing authorities to voluntarily join the state’s new energy improvement district clean energy program.

Description:

Clarifies that housing authorities, which are generally exempt from payment of special assessments to the state, may join the new energy improvement district clean energy program, which includes a special assessment on the property as a fee for the program.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This is voluntary, so no one will force these authorities into the program, but any authority that wants to join should be able to do so. Clean energy programs for buildings frequently reduce operating costs through more efficient energy usage, so it may be beneficial for some authorities to join.

Arguments Against:

Housing authorities have more interests to serve than just providing efficient energy in their buildings. They exist to help provide affordable housing to those that need it, and as such their expenses are a public interest. No authority should be able to spend extra money in this manner without some sort of approval process that ensures we will get a return on the investment.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1272

HB19-1309 Mobile Home Park Act Oversight [Hooton, McCluskie]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To provide an easier process for mobile home owners and park owners to resolve disputes outside the court system and greater cushion for home owners if they are evicted.

Description:

Creates the Mobile Home Park Dispute Resolution and Enforcement Program. All mobile home parks must register with the program, including paying an annual fee (of which they can only pass a maximum of ½ onto the mobile home owners). Any complaints can be brought to this program, which has subpoena power and is tasked with investigating the complaint and then trying to mediate a resolution. If the parties cannot agree, then the program makes a determination, including remedies and potential fines. This decision can be appealed to administrative court. The program is to keep a database of all complaints which is to be publicly available. The entire program does not prevent anyone from bringing civil charges in court and skipping the process altogether. The bill also give counties the power to enact ordinances for mobile home parks (cities already can), extends the time period between notice of nonpayment of rent and eviction from 5 days to 10, and extends the time an owner has to vacate the park after eviction from 48 hours to 60 30 days.

Additional Information:

The program must also produce and distribute educational materials about it to mobile parks, which must be displayed in clearly visible common areas of the park. Program may impose penalties of up to $5,000 per day for non-compliance with its orders (if no appeal has been filed). Program may delay imposition of penalty for good faith mitigating factors beyond the violator’s control. Program has the ability to issue cease and desist orders for unlawful practices. It can order rent and fee refunds. Administrative judges are required to enter a decision on appeal within 30 days of hearing case. Any penalties that are not required to go to the claimant go into the fund for the program. Landlords are forbidden from taking retaliatory action against home owners for filing a claim. Violating this provision imposes a fine of up to $10,000. Landlords must update the program within 30 days of any changes in its ownership so the registration can be updated.


Arguments For:

Mobile home parks are unique, in that you have different owners of the home and the land. It is also extremely difficult for the home owner to move at times, because it can be hard to find a vacancy in another park. This makes traditional rental management difficult, because the two parties are on such unequal footing. Unfortunately, this had led to abuses of the system by park owners, who can also take advantage of the fact that it can be very difficult for home owners to pursue costly and time-consuming legal action. The state department of regulatory agencies’ found as much in their sunrise review of stricter regulations of park owners: “Clearly, harm is occurring in manufactured housing communities. Those instances of harm are not due to a lack of professional competence among manufactured housing community owners and managers. The harm largely stems from the lack of enforcement of existing laws, bad actors exploiting a relatively loose regulatory structure, and the inevitable tension that arises when the house belongs to one person but the land beneath it belongs to someone else.” More than 100,000 Coloradans live in manufactured homes. We need to give them a better framework to assert their rights and a bigger safety net if they do get evicted.

Arguments Against:

The bill spells it out itself: the remedies are already there. The court system is ready and certainly there would attorneys happy to assist in exchange for their fees upon victory. We don’t need to add an enforcement group in the state government just to bring the hammer down on mobile home park owners, who have all of the problems that afflict most landlords but the added burden of not actually owning the homes. Instead of an impartial judge who has been trained for years to make determinations like this, the bill sets up an unknown bureaucrat to make these decisions. Sure they can be appealed, but that adds another layer of difficulty onto managing these parks. And forcing a park owner to keep a tenant they have already evicted for 60 days is a terrible financial burden. They cannot rent out that spot while it is occupied.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1309

HB19-1319 Incentives Developers Facilitate Affordable Housing (Winter, Hisey) [Bird, McKean]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To obtain information on vacant state property and to not retroactively go after property taxes from an organization building affordable housing that should not have had an exemption.

Description:

Requires all state agencies and institutes of higher education that are already required to report all acquisitions of property and vacant facilities to also report non-developed land under its control. State must make this information available in such a way for the public to easily identify parcels of undeveloped land. Also removes the requirement that the state collect unpaid property tax that a non-profit corporation should not have been exempt from because it distributed income. The exemption is still removed, but no back taxes are collected.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

We need every tool in our arsenal to solve the state’s affordable housing crisis, and one such tool is undeveloped land that state agencies and higher education institutions are sitting on. There is a chance we can turn some of that property into affordable housing. For the property tax piece, we obviously don’t want people taking advantage of these exemptions that shouldn’t be, but we also don’t want to discourage corporations from building affordable housing. Right now a non-profit would be in the position of having to pay all of the back taxes if they ever decided to distribute income, which might make some of them think twice about doing affordable housing in the first place.

Arguments Against:

This is too much work to simply put together a database of land. Any developer can find out who owns what land if they are interested without all of this rigmarole for state agencies and post-secondary schools. And we should not allow any corporation to abuse a tax exemption, no matter what our needs are as a state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1319

HB19-1322 Expand Supply Affordable Housing (Moreno, Coram) [Roberts, Will]

PASSED

Goal: To leverage the unclaimed property fund into more funds for affordable housing.

Description:

Requires the state to transfer the lesser of $40 million or 50% of the amount in the unclaimed property fund reserve into the housing development fund, starting next year through the 2025-26 budget year. This occurs only when amount of total revenue forecast for the state is less than the TABOR spending cap (so no state refunds issued) added to amount required for property tax exemptions.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Our affordable housing crisis is well-known and is statewide in scope. We simply desperately need more affordable housing everywhere. This bill takes money that is simply sitting in our government coffers (unclaimed property reserves) and puts it to work, with safeguards to ensure that we will not need the funds for something else. And it is a significant boost, instead of just a small trickle, enough to potentially make a difference.

Arguments Against:

This is too restrictive on future uses of the money, what happens in five years if we don’t need this level of funding for affordable housing? Perhaps putting the money into the budget process would be better.

The unclaimed property tax fund reserve is not a slush fund, it is there to ensure we have adequate reserves to handle a “run on the bank” of claims of property. We shouldn’t be raiding it to pay for other things.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1322

HB19-1328 Landlord and Tenant Duties Regarding Bed Bugs (Rodriguez) [Herod]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To require better communication and treatment of bed bugs in rental units.

Description:

Requires any tenant that suspects or knows they have bed bugs to promptly notify their landlord. The landlord must, within 96 hours, arrange for an inspection of the unit for bed bugs. Landlord must inform tenant within two days of the inspection if the unit has bed bugs. If the unit has bed bugs, the landlord must take steps to treat the unit within 5 days of the inspection. Tenant must comply with efforts to inspect and remove bed bugs. Tenant is responsible for any costs in preparing the unit for inspection and treatment. Landlord is responsible for all other costs

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This is unfortunately a problem for some dwellings, and a unit having bed bugs does not make it uninhabitable under current law which makes it harder to get rid of them if the landlord is not interested in doing so. This bill gives tenants the ability to ensure that they can live bed bug free. The standard lease form does not address bed bugs specifically, just infestations generally, and does not have the detailed process this bill does. Getting rid of bed bugs is one of the hardest infestations to deal with, the level of specificity we have now just isn’t up to it. And since it usually affects lower income housing, lawsuits (which also move extremely slowly) are not a great remedy here.

Arguments Against:

The standard lease form already has clauses dealing with infestations and the responsibility of the tenant to inform the landlord and the landlord to deal with it. While it is not bed bug specific, a bed bug infestation would qualify. There are also other potential remedies to deal with a landlord that isn’t being helpful, including the courts.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1328

SB19-180 Eviction Legal Defense Fund (Winter) [McCluskie]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To get representation for indigent Coloradans facing eviction legal proceedings.

Description:

Creates a state grant program to fund qualifying nonprofits that offer legal advice, counseling, and representation to indigent clients (income does not exceed 200% of federal poverty line) who are experiencing an eviction or at immediate risk of one. Appropriates $750,000 for the fund.

Additional Information:

Nonprofits must be Colorado-based, have demonstrated experience in this area, and obtain more than 33% of its funding from sources other than grants from this fund. Money from the fund can be used for: legal representation for evictions; establishing clinics to educate indigent clients about eviction proceedings; legal information and advice to indigent tenants; referring clients to appropriate people or agencies for housing problems; and mediation services between indigent clients and landlords.


Arguments For:

There is no constitutional right to counsel in civil cases. Legal counsel can provide significant help to renters who are facing an eviction. Counsel can be critical in facilitating a resolution that allows tenants to remain in their homes, arrange additional time to find another home, or keep a judgment off a tenant's record. Yet there were nearly forty-five thousand evictions filed in Colorado in 2017 and a study of Denver evictions found that the landlord had legal representation almost 90% of the time while the tenants had legal representation in fewer than 1% of cases. There is less than one civil legal aid attorney available for every thirty thousand people in poverty in Colorado, which ranks us 46th in the country. This is a clear problem related to one of the most important aspects of any person’s life: secure housing. An eviction makes it harder for someone to find housing in the future, which ends up costing taxpayers money through shelters, hospitals, mental health care, and juvenile delinquency. Denver itself is running a pilot program and so far the results are very positive. We need to bring this state-wide.

Arguments Against:

What ever happened to personal responsibility? Eviction isn’t just something that happens, landlords do it to tenants that are violating rules or not paying on-time. The state should not be using taxpayer money to try to bail out people who are unable to provide for themselves to such an extent that they cannot stay within a landlord’s rules.

This doesn’t provide enough funding. The bill cites a study in Philadelphia that found that $3.5 million spent on legal defense in eviction proceedings would save the city $45.2 million. So why are we only spending $750,000?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-180

SB19-225 Authorize Local Governments to Stabilize Rent (Gonzales, Rodriguez) [Lontine, Gonzales-Gutierrez]

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Goal: To allow local governments to use rent control.

Description:

Repeals provision prohibiting local governments from enacting rent controls on private property.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This provision was enacted in 1981, back when exploding rents in Colorado was unheard of. Now, we have a situation more like New York and San Francisco (both of which have rent control). 50% of Colorado rentals statewide are cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of income on housing. Independent analysis shows that we are facing a deficit of over 20,000 housing units until at least 2025. This explosion is of course somewhat situational, which is why we need to give local communities the ability, through their own elected officials, to enact rent controls. The inability to do so has displaced renters from Denver and other large communities into surrounding smaller communities, which are ill-equipped to deal with the influx, which of course makes their housing costs rise as well. In addition, too many renters in the state cannot live near their work, which adds to our punishing traffic and contributes to our brown cloud. Rent control is not a novel thing in this country, New York has had then since FDR was president. It’s time to recognize that our situation has changed and act accordingly to let local governments provide a predictable and stable source of low-income, affordable housing that we know will stay that way.

Arguments Against:

Rent controls fly in the face of our capitalist system. We need to build more units, not restrict the pricing on the units we already have. Apartments that are rent controlled may incentivize owners to not maintain their property and there is a vast collection of literature from economists of all stripes, 93% of a 1992 poll of the American Economic Association, and in later times, including noted liberal Paul Krugman, that rent control does not work and in fact leads to less housing being created (that’s what happens when you remove the profit motive), in fact can raise prices in non-rent controlled areas, and can increase urban blight. Look at New York and San Francisco, how is rent control working out for them? They remain the two most expensive housing areas in the country. Rent controls also make it extremely difficult for the population to be mobile: if you live in a rent controlled apartment you may not be able to give it up to move elsewhere in the city because you cannot get into another rent controlled apartment. So the long-range commute solutions may not last very long. Finally rent controlled apartments encourage unsavory factors being used to determine who gets the rental. Rather than pure money, landlords may rely on factors such as appearance, children, and other potentially more insidious factors such as race or sexual orientation. The “For” argument is absolutely right, we have a long history of rent control in this country. And it is exactly that history that should warn us away from allowing it in Colorado.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-225

SB19-226 Voluntary Housing Agreements Unincorporated Areas (Winter) [Caraveo]

Goal: To allow counties to enter into the same sorts of agreements cities already do with developers to increase affordable housing.

Description:

Authorizes counties to use housing agreements in their unincorporated sections with developers that increase the supply of housing stock priced as affordable for low- and moderate-income households.

Additional Information:

These agreements are specified in the bill as possibly including an agreement to set aside a percentage of units as affordable, offering developers different forms of incentives for creating affordable units, targeting a particular income range as the beneficiary of the program, or specifying a time period for which the units must stay affordable.


Arguments For:

Cities already use these agreements to great effect here in Colorado but we have a number of unincorporated areas of the state that are very much in need of more affordable housing, some right in the Denver metro area. Our desperate need for more affordable housing is very well known, and while we of course need more and more units total, if we can entice developers into building a variety of housing units then we won’t be forced to wait for the state to have too many units to start driving down prices to affordability (which may take years, even a decade). The agreements are purely voluntary.

Arguments Against:

“Voluntary” is of course true strictly speaking, but sometimes these agreements are such that you are free to not enter into them but it’s more free in the sense that you are free not to build at all (this is generally more true of the percentage-based agreements). What we need is more housing units, period. Right now we are being hammered by simple supply and demand, we just don’t have enough supply. So we need to turn on the spigots as much as possible to simply build more units. Anything we do that may tamper the desire for developers to build should be discouraged.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-226