These are all of the Housing bills proposed in the 2021 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 or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, 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:

MEGA

MAJOR

SB21-173 Rights In Residential Lease Agreements PASSED AMENDED

MEDIUM

MINOR+

MINOR

TECHNICAL

HB21-1009 Update Division Housing Function & Local Development (Bridges (D), Coram (R)) [Bernett (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Make some changes to the division of housing’s legally mandated operations, including adding requirement to research transit-oriented development and advanced energy performance standards, removing some outdated requirements, and expand collaboration with other agencies, including around disposition of state buildings that can used as low- or moderate-income housing
  • Require the division to maintain confidentiality of all names, addresses, and personal identifying information of people in the any part of the housing assistance program

Description:

Specifically the division is charged with researching new approaches to housing in the state. Transit-oriented development includes increased housing density near employment, education, and town centers. Advanced energy performance standards are those that minimize total building operational costs.

Division must collaborate with state agencies to develop incentives to support local development near transit corridors; increased housing density development within employment, education, and town centers; and energy performance standards that minimize total building costs.

Privacy information must be extended to anyone who has applied or received housing assistance. The division may publish aggregate or de-identified data to third parties and other agencies. They may also enter in data-sharing agreements that will provide the identifying information but the agreement must require the data recipient to maintain the confidentiality of the identifying information.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The government can drive housing policy through incentives and through affordable housing projects. This bill helps us reorient those policies around density in transit areas and energy efficiency. Density is one of the key tools we have to fight our severe housing shortage, which affects everyone by driving up pricing, and energy efficiency not only save money but helps us in the fight against climate change
  • Keeping people associated with affordable housing’s information private is a no-brainer, there is stigma associated with needing affordable housing support

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1009

HB21-1019 Modification To Regulations Of Factory-built Structures (Ginal (D), Woodward (R)) [Hooton (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Clarify a bunch of elements of the laws around inspection of manufactured homes chiefly having to do with local inspection vs. state inspection and on-site versus off-site. Also allows the state to authorize local governments to inspect and charge fees
  • Change some of the regulations around surety bond requirements, including allowing the state to set the amount required through rule-making, removing requirement attorney general sign-off on revocation and allowing the state to execute a bond filed by a seller on behalf of a purchaser
  • Adds multi-family structures and closed panel systems into the definitions for regulation
  • Requires each manufactured home to have a contract from the installer that discloses the installer’s compliance with state liability requirements and how an aggrieved party can make a complaint to the state or sue in civil court. This mimics the existing requirement for such a contract for the sale of a manufactured home

Description:

Specifically the bill does not allow local inspection of work that is done off-site or completed using on-site components shipped with the structure unless the state specifically authorizes it. Then the local government may inspect and charge fees to do so. But does clarify that local governments may enforce rules around the installation of these homes so long as they are approved by the state.

Liability insurance is also changed to set by rule-making instead of exact amount (was $1,000,000; surety bond was $10,000). Clarifies that financial institutions or insurers are required to make payment to either the state or the owner making the claim against the security instrument if a court has rendered final judgment against the registered person based on a finding that they failed in the performance of an installation pursuant to either the manufacturer’s instructions or the state’s standards. The bill also removes the requirement in law for 8 hours per year of continuing education and instead allows the state to set the requirement by rule.

Clarifies that local governments may not impose weight restrictions for roof snow loads or wind shear factors that are different from what the federal government has zoned for Colorado unless they have an exception from the federal government. Local governments may require on-site mitigation for these factors but it must not interfere with federal standards for the home.

Removes requirement that manufactured home sellers keep down payments in separate fiduciary accounts in a bank or trust company until the home is delivered.

Additional Information:

Clarifies that the insignia of approval granted by the state to a structure does not expire unless the design and construction has been modified from approved plans.

Because the attorney general is no longer the final arbiter of revocation of bonds, the bill removes requirement to send updated list of all people registered and bonded by these laws each month.

Because manufactured home sellers no longer have to keep down payments in separate fiduciary accounts, the bill removes the disclosure requirement about such accounts to buyers.

Slightly alters the composition of the advisory committee on residential and non-residential structures by removing member from “mobile home industry” and requiring two, instead of one, members from manufactured housing.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This law hasn’t been updated in ten years and badly needs it. Right now there is a lot of confusion about where authority lies and in that time the manufactured home industry has basically vanished from the state. When it comes to moving the bonding and liability insurance requirements, current amounts are either inadequate or ineffective and changing it to rules gives the state much more flexibility going forward. The continuing education section is a similar story, right now the law is too one-size fits all. There are also just numerous areas the law doesn’t address at all right now, such as multi-family structures or contracts for installation of homes

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1019

HB21-1028 Annual Public Report Affordable Housing (Story (D), Woodward (R)) [Bird (D), Rich (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $18,704
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal:

  • Require the state housing division to report annually on all of the funding it receives and all of the money it spends on affordable housing. Report must be delivered to legislature and posted on the division’s website

Description:

Report must state funds received from any federal, state, other public, or any private source during the previous fiscal year. It must identify all funding awards it made during that time in the form of grants or loans, by recipient, project name, source of funding, amount requested and amount given, total cost of the project being funded, city and county where the project is located, type of housing solution being built, purpose of the project, and number of housing units affected. Report is due by October 1 each year.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We are spending increasing amounts of money on affordable housing and it remains a huge problem in the state. We absolutely must know how the money is being spent and what sort of results we are getting

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1028

HB21-1117 Local Government Authority Promote Affordable Housing Units (Gonzales (D), Rodriguez (D)) [Lontine (D), Gonzales-Gutierrez (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allows local governments to apply land use restrictions that restrict rent to new or reconstructed developments as long as the regulation provides a choice of options to the property owner or land developer and creates one or more alternatives to the construction of new affordable housing units on the building site.

Description:

In 2000 the state supreme court held in Town of Telluride, Colorado v. Lot Thirty-Four 5 Venture LLC that local ordinances forcing developers to include low-cost housing units in new developments is a form of rent control. Rent control is illegal under state law.

No local community can do this unless they demonstrate commitment to affordable housing by doing one of the following:

  • Adopt changes to zoning and land use policies that are intended to increase density, including increasing number of housing units per site, promoting mixed-use zoning, permitting more than one dwelling unit on single-family lots, increasing permitted household size in single family homes, promoting denser development near transit stations and places of employment, granting density bonuses to projects that incorporate affordable housing, granting reduced parking requirements to housing near transit or affordable housing units, and adopt policies to promote diversity of housing mix options
  • Materially reduce or eliminate utility charges, regulatory fees, or taxes applicable to affordable housing units
  • Grant affordable housing developments relief from zoning or other land development restrictions that would ordinarily limit density
  • Make surplus government owned property available for housing development
  • Adopt any other regulatory measure expressly designed and intended to increase housing supply

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We have an affordable housing crisis in the state and need to give local governments all of the tools they want to get more affordable housing built in their jurisdictions instead of displacing people into outlying communities which creates cascading housing problems and increases traffic
  • This is not full-blown rent control—it is just about building more affordable housing. Because if you build the wrong types of supply, you don’t end up lowering demand and bringing prices down—you just end up with empty high-price housing units like New York
  • Developers still get a choice, including one option of no affordable housing
  • The bill ensures communities are serious about a commitment to sustainable housing policies

In Further Detail: The 2000 case tied the hands of cities that are desperately trying to force developers to build more affordable housing by requiring a certain amount be set aside for affordable housing. And we desperately need more affordable options. 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 and one analysis estimated a shortage of 100,000 rental units for those with low-income. We just saw a record $55 million in rent assistance requests to the state in the last month, more than in all of 2020. This explosion of need is of course somewhat geographical, which is why we need to give local communities the ability, through their own elected officials, to enact affordable construction requirements. 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. These sorts of agreements, called inclusionary zoning, are not novel. Neither is rent control, which has been around for nearly 100 years in New York. Ironically it is also New York that demonstrates the flaw in the supply and demand argument (that our only problem is we don’t have enough housing, so build more housing of any type). New York now has a glut of empty high-end units because these were overbuilt. That of course has not solved the housing problem because people are not living in them and they were not constructed to support lower rents. So instead of the promised supply lowering prices, we just have empty units taking up space. In this bill developers still must get some options, including at least one alternative of no affordable unit construction, so this will not be full-blown rent control and construction mandates pushed down developer’s throats. It will be flexible enough to allow cities to make their own determinations about what is best for their community. The bill also ensures that no community can enact these controls without proof of a serious commitment to sustainable affordable housing practices.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The only way to guarantee rents stay low is some form of rent control and rent control just doesn’t work—economists from all political persuasions agree it actually leads to less housing being created
  • Rent control also makes it difficult for a population to be mobile—it’s hard to move when you risk leaving your rent controlled apartment—and may cause landlords to use unsavory factors when determining who gets an apartment
  • The problem with our housing market is supply and demand, increase the supply and we will lower demand (and rents). It may not be instant, overbuilding luxury apartments won’t overnight affect lower-income rentals but developers will not want those luxury apartments to sit empty and will act to fix the problem

In Further Detail: This bill will allow rent control in some circumstances (the way to guarantee that housing stays affordable) so it is worth discussing how effective rent control is. Rent controls fly in the face of our capitalist system. 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. What we have in our housing market is a simple supply and demand problem. There are far too few housing options in many parts of the state and far too many people who want to live there. Fix the supply, in part by building more multi-unit complexes vertically into the available space in the sky rather than one-family homes, and you will fix the pricing problem. It may not happen instantly, as the market does need to sort itself out at times, so for instance in New York no developer is going to sit on vast numbers of vacant units without doing something to fix the problem, but over time it will improve our housing market. There is also a way to force developers to build housing units at a certain value point as part of a project but not restrict the rent they can charge. This avoids the potential future problems of rent control while also avoiding the problem of developers building too many luxury units.


Bottom Line:

  • Allowing any sort of menu of choices may give developers an out to avoid building affordable housing
  • We have the power to change the law and allow full-blown forced affordable housing with rent control as part of construction

In Further Detail: The menu of options portion of this bill may in fact end up being the “out” for developers to avoid building affordable housing at all. Because of the tenuous current legal situation, the few cities that are attempting some form of inclusionary zoning have tended to make it voluntary with options developers can meet instead of building affordable housing (like paying a fee). The result has been developers overwhelmingly paying the fee instead of building the housing. So whatever the alternative is, and the bill does not really define what cities are allowed to do here, if it includes build what you want anyway but pay some sort of fee, that is what developers are going to do. The state supreme court made it clear that the legislature has the power to change this section and allow full-blown forced affordable housing as part of construction. We should do that and ditch the menu.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1117

HB21-1121 Residential Tenancy Procedures (Gonzales (D)) [Jackson (D), Jodeh (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Significant

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Increase the notice required before residential landlords can start eviction proceedings from 10 days to 14 days (also applies to owners in mobile park homes). Extend the period of time required for a summons order to court to be issued in an eviction proceeding from 7 days to 14 10 days before the proceeding. And extend the period that a tenant who loses an eviction case has to comply with the court order from 48 hours to 14 days.
  • Prohibit residential landlords from increasing rent more than once during a 12-month period, regardless of whether there is a written agreement or not. Change notice requirement for rent increases for non-written agreement tenants from 21 days to 60 days. Ban terminating non-written tenancies for the primary purpose of raising rent.

Description:

Existing law also allows an attorney for the plaintiff (landlord) to issue a summons to an eviction proceeding. The bill removes this and requires the clerk of the court issue the summons for residential tenancies. It also requires all notices to quit the property or demand for repossession of it to be served in the same manner as any other civil action (used to be able to leave with a member of the tenant’s family over 15 or post it in a conspicuous place).

Bill also rewrites the required summons notice from the court in eviction proceedings in more clear and explicit language spelling out exactly what the summons requires, how it can be responded to, and what a response or lack of response might bring.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We still have a severe affordable housing crisis in Colorado and are about to emerge from an eviction moratorium due to COVID, which given the fact that many Coloradans have still not recovered economically, may cause widespread housing problems
  • This gives tenants who make a mistake or fell a little behind on the rent a chance to stay in their home. This new system provides more time without overly burdening the landlord
  • The bill also prevents landlords from constantly raising rents and in particular abusing renters who do not have a written agreement
  • Landlords should not have privileged status when it comes to summons, being treated like any other plaintiff should work just fine. And the language of the summons should be easily understood by non-lawyers

In Further Detail: We still have a severe affordable housing crisis in Colorado, with one organization estimating a shortage of over 100,000 rental units for those with low-incomes. And we are going to soon emerge from an eviction moratorium put in place due to COVID but the state is definitely not recovered economically. We just saw a record $55 million in rent assistance requests to the state in the last month, more than in all of 2020. All of this is a recipe for eviction problems. This bill gives renters a little more leeway before they are thrown out, just a few extra days to try to make rent or fix some other issue and then some extra time before any judicial proceedings and some extra time to find a place to live if they are kicked out. All of this extra time amounts to a maximum of 23 days. That is not going to overly burden any landlord and may help keep people housed. We also have to ensure landlords aren’t constantly raising rents and in particular, aren’t taken advantage of a lack of a written agreement to really mess around with rents. Finally, an eviction proceeding is a civil action. There is no need to privilege landlords in these proceedings. Treat them like everyone else. And if someone does get a summons, it should be in plain language that can be easily understood, not lawyerese.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We just changed this eviction waiting period and the compromise selected was 10 days
  • The process to evict someone can take over a month in some counties in the state—all of these state mandated delays add on to the pile and keep landlords from bringing in revenue to their business
  • Short term rentals and rentals without a written agreement are more risky propositions for the landlord too—their hands should not be tied when it comes to rent prices

In Further Detail: We just changed this waiting period before starting eviction proceedings two years ago, to a compromise number of 10 days (14 was the initial proposal). It’s just too long to expect landlords to go without rent when you consider the entire eviction process can take over a month in some counties—adding all of these state delays makes things even worse. Remember, this is a business these landlords are running and tenants have agreed to a legal document. When it comes to rental agreements, shorter term rentals run risk—you don’t lock in that rate for a longer period of time. So if a tenant has agreed to a short term rental, the landlord should not be forced to only negotiate the price once every year—and in particular with renters who have no written agreement. Landlords take on risk in those cases too.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1121

HB21-1134 Report Tenant Rent Payment Information To Credit Agencies (Bridges (D)) [Ricks (D), Bradfield (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $205,000
Fiscal Impact: No other costs, as the Housing Authority is not a state funded entity

Goal:

  • Create a pilot program in the state housing authority to allow participating tenants to have their rent payment information transmitted by participating landlords to credit reporting agencies. No more than 10 landlords may participate and no more than 100 tenants. Landlords must agree to participate for at least 14 months. State may compensate landlords for their participation out of a $250,000 appropriation the bill makes to the program. State to establish compensation rules. State to report to legislature before 2024 on the program, which expires in June 2024

Description:

State to contract with a third-party to administer the program. To the extent possible, the landlords included should offer a variety of types of dwellings in diverse areas of the state with an emphasis on populations that are underserved and under-represented in home ownership. Landlords must offer at least five dwellings for rent and must agree to the terms of the program. State can work with statewide or national associations of landlords to find participants.

Tenants must complete an approved financial education course before entering the program. Reporting of payment or non-payment of rent can only be for payments due after the tenant entered the program. Tenants can leave the program at any time but cannot come back in. State must create a standard form for tenants to fill-out that lets them know their participation is voluntary and that they can leave at any time but if they leave they cannot come back in, that all payments will be reported even if the tenant misses the payment, instructions for how to submit the form to their landlord and how to leave the program.

Program to begin by October 15, 2021. State must make a list of financial education courses that fulfill program requirements, including online classes sorted by location, and the extent possible, contact information.

Additional Information:

State report to the legislature must include number of participating landlords and if more than 10 expressed interest, the number and location of properties each participating landlord has, number of participating tenants and how many stopped participating, cost of administering the program, and how the information was reported to the credit agencies. It can also include any recommendations on improving the program and if it should continue.


Auto-Repeal: June 2024

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The reporting of rent payments to credit agencies is an emerging (and overdue) trend. For a long time this basic payment mechanism that meets all other standards for credit was ignored which severely harms renters in their ability to build credit
  • It is very hard still for renters to report their payments, obviously credit bureaus will not take their word for it. There are a few companies that will do this for a fee but there is an obvious interest in creating a government backed program
  • Increasing people’s credit scores (deservedly too) will increase their access to financial instruments and increase their wealth through lower interest rates. All of that benefits the entire state through increased economic activity

In Further Detail: Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans rent rather than own their dwelling. And they are therefore at a great disadvantage when it comes to their credit. Unlike mortgage payments, rent payments are not easily communicated to credit agencies. That has started to change, but it involves paying third-parties to verify your data and it involves some legwork by the renter. This unfair setup harms lower-income Coloradans who cannot afford to purchase a home and the effects compound. Lower credit also means higher fees even if you did manage to get accepted. In some cases it means you are excluded entirely from some financing options. Some of this is just educational, you have to start building that credit where you can, but a chunk truly is just giving people the opportunity. This is a spiraling effect: the harder time you have getting access to credit-building activities the harder it will be for you to boost your credit score. So it makes sense to pilot a program to see if we can step-in and make a system that works. No one is saying it is a guarantee: there are structural reasons for why it is harder to report rental payments. But that’s why we do a small pilot, to see if we can make it work. Because if we can, increasing people’s credit scores will increase their access to financial instruments and lower their interest rates. All of that will lead to increased wealth which benefits the entire state through increased economic activity.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The market is already responding to fill this need and we’ll likely see increased options for renters
  • There are in fact deep structural differences that make rent reporting much different and more difficult than mortgage reporting that the bill completely elides

In Further Detail:

As the Arguments For acknowledges, there are free market solutions coming online to address this problem. Since it is an emerging industry, we will likely see even more options soon, which will help drive down prices and increase consumer awareness. The reason that this doesn’t exist already is not some plot against renters but just the simple fact that it is very difficult. Credit agencies need verified payment history, not just the word of the tenant. In mortgages, that is easy because you have lenders operating under federal regulations. For the rental market, the number of landlords is astronomically higher and most of them don’t want to deal with all of this. So there are no easy publicly available reporting tools. The bill doesn’t address this at all, it merely directs contracting with a third-party to administer the program. How exactly are these landlords going to report these payments to the credit agencies? Most likely they are going to use an existing private market solution or they are going to find it is extremely difficult. So even though this is a small pilot program and therefore not going to consume too many resources, it still isn’t something we need to do.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1134

HB21-1224 Modification To Statutes Governing Foreclosure Of Real Property (Winter (D)) [Bird (D), Neville (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • For foreclosure sales, require that any excess money over the debt on the property be paid to the borrower that lived on the property, rather the owner of the title (frequently a bank). This is money that is left over after all mortgages and other debts related to the property are paid in full

Description:

Bill also adds to the definition for qualified holder of debt private companies that originate, insure, guarantee, or purchase loans on behalf of an entity that holds time-share evidence of debt and deeds of trust, with a minimum of $5 million in assets or not less than 1,000 active loans.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is basic fairness. We are kicking someone out of their home because they cannot afford the payments and auctioning the home off. Once everyone is made whole, whatever is left on the sale should go to the person we just made homeless, not the bank. This is of course exactly what happens in a normal sale of a house: most people don’t actually own the title on their house when they sell it, but once the mortgage is paid off they get the rest of the money. It is kicking someone when they are down to do it differently because we kicked them out of the home

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1224

HB21-1229 Home Owners' Associations Governance Funding Record Keeping (Fields (D)) [Titone (D), Ricks (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Very Significant (category change)

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Beginning in July 2023, requires the HOA’s executive board to commission a reserve study every three years for upkeep of common elements. HOAs with 35 or fewer units that do not employ a professional manager can conduct the study themselves. The HOA board must review their finances against the reserve study at least annually to ensure reserves are sufficient and disclose to all owners the result of the review. Proposed budgets must include information on the reserves, including proposed spending from them and history of spending from them in the previous year
  • Prohibits taking of any action at an HOA meeting by written or secret ballot unless 20% of the unit owners in attendance request it. Previously could also be done by discretion of the board. Allows unit owners to bring a professional election inspector to observe any contested board election
  • Requires all contracts for goods or services over $10,000 or 5% of the HOA’s annual budget to get at least three bids from independent vendors. For communities of at least 200 acres and 500 units, must get bids for services over $20,000 regardless of percentage of budget. Contracts with HOA employees, attorneys, accountants, architects, association managers, engineering, and landscape architects are exempt
  • Changes the period of time the developer can control the HOA from two years to one year after last sale of a unit or two years after the first sale of a unit by the developer, whichever comes first. For large planned communities, changes from six years to two years after last sale of a unit or change from twenty to ten years after the first sale of a unit, whichever comes first

Description:

  • Allows all HOA meetings, except for executive sessions, to be recorded by a unit owner or their designee, so long as it is not distracting. Boards may adopt rules to require advanced notice of recording or a prohibition on people moving around the meeting place to make recordings
  • Allow owners to place any item on the agenda of a meeting with 20% of the votes of the HOA. Requires HOA notification of special meetings at least 10 days before the meeting (currently is 24 hours), except in cases of emergency
  • Requires HOA to keep a list of the current amounts of all fees and expenses charged in connection with purchase or sale of a unit. This must be given to the state HOA information and resource center. HOA must allow inspection or copying of records it is required to keep (including these fees) within 30 days of written request or face penalties of $50 a day up to a maximum of $500 or unit owner’s actual damages, whichever is greater. HOA is already allowed to charge for copying records but the bill prevents charging a unit owner for any costs already covered by their dues
  • Requires the state to create an online basic knowledge course. All HOA board members must then complete it within 60 days after joining a board
  • Requires the HOA to provide advanced notice when common areas are closed for maintenance or repair with a clearly articulated reason for the closure and the closure must not be any longer than necessary to do the work. Work must be done without regard to which specific units will benefit and the withholding of work as retaliation against specific units is considered an act liable for a lawsuit
  • Requires board vacancies to be filled by special election if they occur more than 60 days prior to the end of the member’s term. If the HOA bylaws don’t provide for special elections, then the board must inform all units of the election with instructions on how to run at least 10 days prior to the election. If it is within 60 days, then the board can only fill the seat if it is necessary to maintain a quorum at meetings. Otherwise it must remain vacant

HOAs that include time shares are exempt.
Additional Information:

  • Requires HOA to post on a website its governing documents and any amendments, as well as provide them, along with a list of current fees, to the state HOA information and resource center. Requires posting of HOA contact info and management company info on a website and annual distribution of that web address to unit owners (website used be one option among several).
  • Funding the reserves by less than half requires a majority vote of all unit owners in the HOA. Vetoing a budget that would adequately fund the reserves also qualifies.
  • Requires HOAs to certify their governing documents when a seller is providing them to a buyer. Allows for failure of a seller to obtain this certification to create a claim for relief from the court system for the buyer against the seller for actual damages plus court costs.
  • Requires HOA to notify owners at least once a year of the opportunity to request notice of meetings by e-mail
  • Requires proxy ballots to be signed by the unit owner
  • Tweak existing ban on HOAs placing unreasonable restrictions on installation of renewable energy devices from “significant” increase in cost or decrease in performance to 10% in both cases. Requires any decision from the HOA within 60 days or it is automatically approved. HOA review must be transparent and consider environmental and social benefits of renewable energy
  • Adds “nonvegetative turf grass” to the definition of xeriscaping HOAs are banned from prohibiting
  • Limits time period that ban on political signs can exist up to 45 days before the first day ballots are mailed out for an election (used to 45 days before election day)
  • Clarifies the rules around mediation, which state law already requires disputes between HOAs and homeowners to be solved by. Requires mediator to be chosen from at random from a list maintained by the state with each side able to strike one name from the list (unless a mediator is already chosen by the parties or is in the rules of a mediation service they are using)


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • HOA budgets can be hundreds of thousands of dollars and some HOAs have massive amounts of power—we are just bringing transparency and responsibility to these boards The bill makes some common sense upgrades to HOA law around renewable energy, election signs, and zeroscaping
  • We have ensure HOA finances are being managed responsibility, that reserves are there if needed, and contractors are being selected responsively
  • We must prevent boards from going into secret sessions whenever they want and ensure meetings can be recorded
  • We need to curtail developers holding on to control of HOAs past the point where it should be turned over to the actual residents
  • No well-run HOA should have trouble following the provisions of this bill

In Further Detail: HOAs often manage budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They also can have large amounts of power in some communities to dictate to all the unit owners what they can and cannot do with their own property. This bill brings transparency and responsibility to these boards in several key ways. First, on finances, the bill ensures that boards are being responsible stewards of resources by ensuring that there are enough funds to maintain common areas and that contractors are being selected responsibly. Second, the bill removes the ability for the board to use a secret ballot at will and ensures that any meeting can be recorded. Third, the bill dramatically limits the number of years a developer can control the HOA before it is turned over to the actual residents. It also ensures that board members have basic knowledge of their rights and responsibilities and that HOAs are providing prompt and full disclosure to unit owners and perspective buyers when necessary. None of these provisions should be burdensome to a well-functioning HOA.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This goes too far into making a volunteer position a burden to avoid with mandatory education requirements, bothersome contracting requirements, and the potential for drawn-out meetings
  • This is a one-size fits all mandate to a situation where there are a wide variety of different types and sizes of HOAs. Small shoestring ones may find this crippling

In Further Detail: This bill goes too far in making what is in essence a volunteer job a burdensome duty that many may want to avoid. Mandatory state education course, extensive contracting requirements, inability to quickly resolve votes by written vote at meetings, and the requirement to maintain a website (which used to be optional) with all of this information on it. Audits used to only be required if the HOA had revenue or expenditures of over $250,000 and it was requested by 1/3 of the unit owners. This change is another example of going overboard in the other direction, by requiring every single HOA, no matter how small, to do a financial review every single year. The bottom line is this is a one-size fits all mandate to a situation where you have a wide variety of different types and sizes of HOAs. Some of the more professional outfits with big budgets will likely have no issues complying and indeed may already be mostly complying with the bill. Smaller shoestring HOAs may find this crippling in their ability to operate and attract volunteer board members.


Bottom Line:

  • The bill no longer reigns in HOA abuses. Just read all of the struck out Arguments For to understand what is now missing

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1229

HB21-1271 Department Of Local Affairs Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies (Gonzales (D)) [McCluskie (D), Jodeh (D)]

*State stimulus bill, 2% of total stimulus funds spent in this bill*

PASSED

AMENDED: Significant

Appropriation: $46.4 million, of which 11.4 million is state funds and $35 million is federal stimulus money
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

Create three different grant programs to encourage local governments to adopt affordable housing friendly policies and laws. The first program gives grants to local governments who have adopted at least three different tools from a big menu of options and it is given $9.3 $39.3 million by the bill ($30 million in federal stimulus funding). The second is for local governments who cannot qualify for the first grant program and is designed to help them change that. It is given $2.1 $7.1 million by the bill ($5 million in federal stimulus funding). The third is designed for local governments who are just starting in this process and it is given $1.6 million by the bill.

Description:

Creates three different grant programs for affordable housing. $35 million of total $46.4 million is federal stimulus funding.

The first program is the Local Government Affordable Housing Development Incentives Grant Program which gives grants to local government who adopt at least three different housing tools from a menu of options offered by the state. $9.3. $39.3 million appropriated to this program. Of this money, $30 million is federal stimulus money. The options are:

  • Use of vacant government-owned property for affordable housing development
  • Creation of a program to subsidize or reduce local development review or permitting fees for affordable housing development
  • Creation of expedited review process for affordable housing development for people who earn 120% or less of the area’s adjusted median income
  • Creation of expedited review process for acquiring or repurposing underutilized commercial property that can be rezoned into affordable housing units
  • Establishment of a density bonus that ensures at least 30% of units constructed are affordable for people who earn 50% or less of the area’s adjusted median income to increase construction of affordable housing to meet the community's needs
  • Establishment of a density bonus that ensures at least 30% of units constructed are affordable for people who earn 120% or less of the area’s adjusted median income
  • Creation of processes to promote use of sub-metering for water utilities for affordable housing projects
  • Creation of a dedicated funding source to subsidize infrastructure costs and fees
  • Granting duplexes, triplexes or other appropriate multi-family options ability to be used in single-family residential zones
  • Classification of proposed housing development as use by right when it meets building density and design standards of a housing district
  • Authorizing accessory dwelling units on all parcels containing single-family residences
  • Allowing planned unit developments with integrated affordable housing units
  • Allowing development of small square footage residential unit sizes
  • Lessened parking minimums for new affordable housing developments
  • Creation of a land donation or land banking system

State is also allowed to add to this list if local governments come up with something novel, creative, or innovative that contributes to the development of affordable housing. State is to prioritize grants based on geographic diversity throughout the state, use of best practices by the grantee, degree of impact of the proposed grant, diversity of types of affordable housing, extent to which racial equity is assessed in local government land use plans and policies and regulations related to housing,, support for sustainable development patterns such as infilling and redevelopment of existing buildings, and preservation of affordability over time. The one key prioritization factor is maximum number of units that remain affordable over the longest period of time.

The second program is the Local Government Planning Grant Program which gives grants to local governments that lack one or more of the policies or tools on the list and are thus ineligible for the first grant program. Grants are for local governments to obtain outside professional help to implement changes so as to become eligible for the first grant program. $2.1 $7.1 million is appropriated to this program, of which $5 million is federal stimulus money.

The third program is the Affordable Housing Guided Toolkit and Local Officials Guide Program which awards funding to local governments who commit to adoption of best land use practices with demonstrated success in development of affordable housing. Money is for technical assistance by third-party experts. To be eligible local governments must demonstrate an understanding of the housing needs of their community, take steps to engage their community in the process, make changes to land use codes and related processes that provide incentives and reduce barriers to affordable housing development, obtain and support viable sites in their communities for development of affordable housing, and attract developers committed to making such investments. $1.6 million appropriated to the program. State to prioritize grants that will make maximum impact and address the most items on the eligibility list.

For all grants, state must use appropriated money to fund administration of programs, up to a maximum of 8% 4%. All money must be spent by July 2024. State must report to legislature in 2022 and 2023, including number of grant applications, number of awards and amounts of awards, policy or regulatory tools adopted, and descriptions of what was done with the money. None of the grant programs expire.

Bill’s definition of affordable housing (unless it is specifically altered, as it is in a few places) is annual income of renters at or below 80% of adjusted median income of area and for homeowners, annual income of at or below 120% 140%.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Affordable housing is a crisis in the state, with 1 in 7 households spending more than half of their monthly income on housing and 50% of rentals spending more than 30%. Much of this is due to not having enough housing inventory: we are short 121,000 affordable rental units right now
  • The biggest obstacles to increased housing is local laws and policies and in particular zoning laws. We simply do not have the density required in many parts of the state to accommodate all of the people moving here and thus we get terrible sprawl and rocketing prices
  • This bill provides a three tiered approach to pushing local governments to adopt the policies that can increase affordable housing in the state (and not all of them have to do with density, so communities that don’t want to mess with zoning or parking minimums don’t have to)
  • Everyone needs somewhere to live and unlocking the affordable housing crisis in the state is a great gateway to unlocking a whole bunch of other doors for people struggling to get by

In Further Detail: We have an affordable housing crisis in Colorado, with 1 in 7 households spending more than half of their monthly income on housing and 50% of rentals spending more than 30% (which is what is officially considered cost-burdened). Independent analysis shows that we are facing a deficit of over 20,000 housing units until at least 2025 and one analysis estimated a shortage of 121,000 rental units for those with low-income. All of this has rapidly moved to state to reasonably affordable by national standards in 2009 to one of the least affordable places to live in the entire country. The problem is a simple supply and demand issue. We don’t have enough housing, in particular affordable housing, so the housing we have is in high demand which causes prices to skyrocket. And the biggest obstacle to increased housing supply is zoning. Think about just the Denver metro area. Immense sprawl has expanded most people’s conception of just what that is in every direction and we keep gobbling up more and more empty land. And yet, we are still far behind what is needed. This is not just due to the large number of people moving to the area (though that doesn’t help), it is also all about density. For just the city of Denver, our housing density is 4,887 people per square mile. The population density of Paris is 54,415 people per square mile. But that’s Europe, which is much more dense than the US. New York is the densest city in the country, at 28,491. Number 133 on the list is Redondo Beach, California at 10,065. San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Providence, Dallas, Buffalo, Portland, Detroit, Cleveland, and more are all denser than Denver. In fact the most dense area of Colorado is Glendale, at 8,241 people per square mile. This is just nowhere near sufficient. Now, the bill does not force any community to use the real weapons we have to increase density (zoning and parking minimums), so some communities may choose other options. But if we can just get a few of the bigger communities in the state to embrace the difference between single-family homes and triplexes, for instance, we can make a real dent in our housing supply problem. This will also help arrest sprawl, as right now in many cases the only options are to keep building out, which eats up smaller towns that want no part of being part of the Denver metro area, for instance, like Elizabeth. And of course we have problems far beyond just Denver, our mountain communities are the definition of space restricted and have terrible affordability issues. In all this bill is a three tiered approach targeted at helping local governments at every step of the process to create the housing inventory we need to finally start at least slowing the rate of housing increases in the state. Everyone needs somewhere to live and unlocking our housing affordability crisis can unlock a whole bunch of other doors for people struggling. It is an excellent use of stimulus money.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Homeowners will lose out under this bill, as lower housing prices means someone who owns a home owns something worth less than it was
  • Communities may also lose out due to increased traffic, loss of identify as people cannot know all of their neighbors due to density and increased short-term rentals, and a loss of what made the community different in the first place
  • Over time this can be a self-regulating problem: as prices increase fewer people move to the state which eases the demand. In the meantime the construction industry seems to be finally recovering from the Great Recession to actually build all of the housing (a portion of the problem the bill ignores), but labor shortages remain

In Further Detail: To be clear, the losers in this arrangement will be people who already own homes. The stated goal is lower housing prices, which means people who own homes will own something worth less. Also to be clear, increased density comes with issues of its own. Communities can lose a sense of identity as more and more people move in, making it less likely that everyone knows their neighbors. In a state like Colorado having a car to get around is still pretty much mandatory for just about everyone and more people in tight areas means parking problems and increased traffic. People who choose to live in an area that is single-family homes don’t want to suddenly be in a neighborhood of duplexes and triplexes or where many homes have an extra rental dwelling on the property. These rentals can also be short-term, which also leads to less of a sense of community with different people moving in and out of the neighborhood regularly. To some degree this is also a problem that will regulate itself over time. The increasing high expense of living here means fewer people are going to move to Colorado, which will allow us to bring the state into more of an equilibrium without resorting to drastic measures. The bill is also ignoring another part of this equation, which is the construction industry in the state. We are just now reaching home construction levels last seen before the Great Recession in 2009 (hmm, that date seems to coincide with the sharp drop in affordability in the state) and we still haven’t reached levels achieved at the 2005 peak for single-family dwellings (multi-family it matching 2001 peaks right now). But we still have massive labor shortages (despite the pandemic) of 200,000 to 300,000 workers in the industry. So we again may be seeing a market solution to this problem, with increased construction as the industry finally completely recovers from the Great Recession, without pushing for specific construction types or more extreme rezoning or other density increasing measures.


Bottom Line:

    • The bill provides too wide a menu of options. We should be narrowing this down to the things we absolutely know are going to increase density in the way we need in order to have more affordable housing: zoning as it relates to multi-family homes and accessory dwellings and parking minimums. If we can boost the density in key parts of the state, the rest of this will take care of itself as the vast increases in housing units bring down prices naturally, without worrying about if what we are building is “affordable” or not

Bottom Line:

    • The bill now creates a grant program without giving it any funding, if we cannot fund this program now flush with stimulus money when are we going to?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1271

HB21-1310 Homeowners' Association Regulation Of Flags And Signs (Rodriguez (D)) [Cutter (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Remove ability of HOAs to restrict flags and signs based on content and allow them year-round, with only reasonable regulations on number, location, and size and that commercial messages may be banned.

Description:

Change current law around HOAs and flags and signs so as to require allowing any flag or sign at any time and only allow content-neutral regulations of number, location and size of flags and yard signs. Commercial messages may still be banned.

Right now HOAs must allow display of American flags (but can regulate location and size of flags in reasonable manner), must allow display of service star denoting active military member of family with maximum display of 9x16 inches, and must allow political signs within 45 days of an election (and 7 after). Must allow at least one sign per issue or office on ballot with size regulated by either local ordinance or 36x48 inches maximum, whichever is smaller.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is about freedom of expression, the ability to show your support for a cause year-round (or one that isn’t on the ballot). Black Lives Matter, a NRA flag or sign, there are issues on both sides of the aisle that people should be able to freely express on their own property without interference from a HOA. Even something more universal like a cancer awareness sign could run afoul of HOA rules, or the Colorado state flag. Does this mean that people might be able to put up hateful symbols or speech? Yes, that is the price of living in a free society. It is the actual situation in any home ownership space not governed by a HOA and this issue does come up all over the country from time to time. But the solution is not to take the impossible road down limiting speech. The line of what is “allowed” is impossible to draw. The stance this bill takes is roughly equivalent to many other states and the sky has not fallen

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This goes way, way too far. How would you feel about your neighbors flying the confederate flag? Nazi flag? What about a yard sign that supported Qanon? A yard sign that said Jews will not replace us? The bottom line here is that we have HOAs to regulate precisely this sort of thing: no one is forced to live in a community with a HOA. So if particular HOAs are too strict with things people feel impinge on their freedom of expression, that is the price for living in a HOA community. Note that current law allows for political signs around elections so long as they are related to the actual ballot

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1310

HB21-1329 American Rescue Plan Act Money To Invest Affordable Housing (Holbert (R), Gonzales (D)) [Gonzales-Gutierrez (D), Woodrow (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $550 million in federal stimulus money
Fiscal Impact: None (we are getting and spending this money either way)

Goal:

Spend $550 million of our federal stimulus money on affordable housing, with $100 $98.5 million going right now to the state to spend on gap financing for affordable housing projects and another $60 million is spoken for in other bills in this session (dealing with grants to local governments as rewards for zoning and land use decisions and homelessness). $1.5 million goes to the existing eviction legal defense grant fund. A task force is to make recommendations on how to spend the rest of the money.

Description:

Creates a cash fund to hold federal stimulus money for affordable housing purposes and appropriates $550 million into the fund. Then takes $100 million out of the fund and gives $98.5 million to the division of housing for programs and services that provide gap financing for projects financed through the existing housing investment trust fund or the existing housing development grant fund. In either case, the money should be used to assist populations, households, or geographic areas disproportionately impacted by COVID in order to obtain affordable housing. This can be through acquisition, construction, or renovation of housing projects or land acquisition. 3% of the money can be used for administrative costs. $1.5 million given to the existing eviction legal defense grant program.

The leadership from both parties of both legislative chamber is to create a task force to meet during the 2021 interim (after end of 2021 session and before start of 2022 session) to create a report with recommendations on how to spend the money to create transformative change in the area of housing. Must review policies submitted by the strategic housing working group and state housing board and hire a facilitator. May include non-legislative members. Spending out of the fund must go toward programs or services that benefit populations, households, or geographic areas disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to obtain affordable housing, focusing on programs or services that address housing insecurity, lack of affordable and workforce housing (housing close to jobs), or homelessness.

*Note—another $60 million has also been pulled out of this fund by other bills in this session, so there is $390 left.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: July 2027

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a part of how we are spending our billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. We desperately need more affordable housing. 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 and one analysis estimated a shortage of 100,000 rental units for those with low-income. We just saw a record $55 million in rent assistance requests to the state in April, more than in all of 2020. All of this has rapidly moved to state from reasonably affordable by national standards in 2009 to one of the least affordable places to live in the entire country. So it makes perfect sense to use one-time stimulus money to build a lot more housing, all over the state. Because a huge part of this is simple supply and demand. We don’t have enough housing units for our booming population, and so prices spike. If we flood the market with more units, prices should stabilize. As an added benefit, this should contribute to a lot of economic activity all over the state in the construction (and related) industry, just what you want out of stimulus money. We also are likely to see a rise in evictions once the moratorium ends (which will likely be soon) so it makes sense to beef up the fund that helps people who don't have the ability to defend themselves in court. There are other bills in this session that are using money out of this fund that specifically address homelessness and local land ordinances, so we don’t need to do anything further legislatively in that direction. The bill wisely recognizes that there is only so much money we can spend instantly ($160 million is a lot!), so it makes sense to take some time and figure out how we want to spend the rest

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • To be clear, the losers in this arrangement will be people who already own homes. The stated goal is lower housing prices, which means people who own homes will own something worth less
  • To some degree this is also a problem that will regulate itself over time. The increasing high expense of living here means fewer people are going to move to Colorado, which will allow us to bring the state into more of an equilibrium without resorting to drastic measures
  • Labor may be a problem here: if we simply don’t have enough workers to build all of these new homes what then?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1329

SB21-173 Rights In Residential Lease Agreements (Gonzales (D), Moreno (D)) [Caraveo (D), Gonzales-Gutierrez (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $15,756
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal:

  • Allow tenants to pay rent owed up to 48 hours after losing an eviction trial with no harm done (no eviction, decision vacated). In residential property cases, allow either the landlord or the tenant to request a trial by jury if they are willing to pay the associated costs. until the judge issues their ruling. Require courts to set trial dates no sooner than 7 days but not more than 10 days after receiving tenant’s answer to summons, unless the tenant agrees to an earlier date
  • Prohibit landlords in residential properties and mobile park homes from a wide range of actions on late fees, most notably imposing a late fee of the greater of $20 $50 or 2.5% 5% of rent, charging interest on late fees, charging more than one late fee per missed payment (unless the additional fee keeps the total below the maximum $50/5% allowed by the bill), charging late fees unless the rent is more than 14 7 days late, and more (see Description). Landlords leasing a single family home with 5 or fewer total single family rental homes are excluded

Description:

Rest of prohibited late fee actions include:

  • Evict or try to evict a tenant solely on the basis of unpaid late fees
  • Charging the tenant a late fee if the part of the rent that is unpaid comes from a rent subsidy provider than the tenant (like a housing authority)
  • Recouping a late fee from any rental payments
  • Recouping a late fee from the security deposit if more than 180 days have passed. Requires written notification for under 180 days

Landlords who violate any of these provisions owe tenants $20 per violation. Tenants can take civil action against landlords who violate the late fee provisions and fail to fix their violation within 7 days. Victorious tenants are entitled to compensatory damages, $500 $150 but not more than $2,000 $1,000 in damages, as well as attorney fees. Attorney general may also investigate and prosecute alleged violations of these fee rules.

Bill also gives tenants until the end of the business day to appear in court to answer summons before being held in default by the court for not showing up. For tenants that are claiming the landlord’s failure to repair the premises is why they haven’t paid rent, bill removes requirement that pay to the court to hold in escrow their rent minus expenses they’ve incurred based on landlord’s failure to repair.

Court summons must also list available resource for obtaining civil legal aid and rental assistance. State will keep an up-to-date list to use. Must also contain a form that allows the defendant to request all relevant landlord documents and a blank form for the defendant’s response to the summons (an answer in writing to the summons is required upon appearance in court). Bill specifies that the defendant does not waive any defense related to proper notice by filing this answer.

7 day trial allowance does not apply to forcible entry and detainer petitions alleging substantial violations (criminal acts or actions that danger others).

Removes requirement for tenant to deposit the amount of rent that is due with the court in order for the tenant to appeal a decision to appellate court. Allows the court to exempt indigent defendants from requirement to deposit amount of rent that is due with the court in order for the tenant to appeal a decision in appellate court.

Sets out procedure for cases where the tenant claims the landlord breached the warrant of habitability. This is a set of basic living standards and conditions that all rental properties in the state must keep, regardless of what is in any individual contract. If the tenant wins, the judge must reduce the rent down to its present value in its unhabitable state and the tenant must pay that reduced amount that has accrued up to the trial. Tenant has 14 days to make this payment. If they don’t, the tenant is evicted. The court may also order the landlord to make repairs to correct the conditions in the apartment that led to the breach. Rent must be kept to the new, actual value amount until the apartment is fixed. Tenant must pay into a fund kept by the court the rent that is due, unless they are found indigent. For purposes of this section, indigent is defined as less than 250% of the federal poverty line (with assets excluded) or net income five times or less than annual rental cost of unit after allowing for exemptions available in low-rent housing under federal law. Rental cost must include heat, water, electricity, gas, and other necessary services or facilites.

Bans rental agreements from including in their contract: damages clause that assigns fees to a party from an eviction notice or eviction action or one-way attorney fees clause that only allows the landlord to reclaim attorney fees in court.

Sets damages for tenants who are unlawfully removed from their apartment and prevail in court in a civil case to actual damages plus the higher of three times the monthly rent or $5,000.

Unlawfully removing a tenant or violating any of the late fee provisions in the bill are unlawful trade practices under the state’s consumer protection act.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This resets some of the power imbalance in court proceedings between landlords, with access to more resources and more experience in these proceedings, and tenants—ensuring they are aware of all the resources available to them and giving them enough time to make a defense
  • This also prevents abuse of the fees process that can easily spiral into a point of no-return for tenants: no multiple late fees or interest, no docking rent payments to cover late fees, and no price gauging on the fees themselves
  • If a tenant loses a case but then is able to pay what they owe, we should keep them housed. The has been made whole

In Further Detail: This is about two things: resetting a bit of the power imbalance in court and preventing landlords from abusing the fee process and driving tenants into an escalating mountain of fees they cannot escape. For the fees, no multiple late fees or interest for the same rental payment, no docking rent payments to cover late fees (and thus making those rent payments inadequate), and no using the failure of a third-party to pay as an excuse to charge a fee to the tenant. The bill also ensures that landlords aren’t gauging tenants in their fees (2.5% 5% is perfectly reasonable and will be missed by anyone who has to pay it) and are providing tenants ample time to make their rent. This helps tenants who may have a particularly bad month for whatever reason avoid piling on through additional fees while ensuring the landlord still gets paid. Landlords are of course free to decide they no longer want to rent to tenants who are habitually late once their lease is up. In court, most of these provisions are simply about giving tenants a fighting chance in court. Enough time to prepare for the defense, understanding of the resources available to them, knowing their right to relevant landlord records, and giving them the true ability to make a case based on failure to repair and to appeal without having to pay the court money. All things that a landlord is much better equipped to handle without issue. And for the 48 hours to pay after judgment provision: the landlord gets paid and the tenant stays housed. If that can happen, that is a win for all parties.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • All of this allows tenants more time to drag out this process while sitting in properties without paying what they owe
  • The fee provisions tell tenants that rent isn’t really due until the middle of the next month a week late, since the landlord has no recourse until then, and that this habitual lateness cannot be punished in any way
  • The 48-hour rule forces landlords to keep dealing with tenants who refused to pay and had to be dragged through the entire legal process to cough up the money

In Further Detail: What this law is really telling tenants is that although rent may be “due” by the first of the month, it really isn’t due until the middle of the month a week late because that is when a late fee can actually be assessed. And landlords in mobile park homes in particular really have their hands tied when it comes to evicting residents, so someone who is habitually late but still pays will be nearly impossible to get rid of. Landlords should also be able to ask for more than a few dollars in a late fee, for it to be a real deterrence people have to fear needing to pay it, not be annoyed by it. tenant who the landlord has to take all the way in court to get money out of gets to keep staying in the property if they make the bill’s 48 hour rule, possibly to continue to pay late or not at all in the future. Allowing tenants even more time to drag out the legal process, including easier paths to appeals and jury trials. All of this adds to more time for tenants to sit in properties without paying their rent and tying the hands of landlords when it comes to tenants who abuse this process by always going right up to the line (and thus being late on their payments) but never crossing over.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-173