Legislative / Industry Alerts
Calling All Hands - The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act Must Be Defeated—Legislative Session 2012
February 1, 2012 - If you are not aware, State Sen. Aguilar has introduced The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (“URLTA”) SB 12-070. State Representatives Wilson and Solano have signed on to this bill as co-sponsors. Senator Aguilar represents Senate District 32 that encompasses parts of Denver and Jefferson Counties. Representative Wilson represents District 61 (Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale and Pitkin Counties) and Representative Solano represents District 31 that encompasses parts of Adams County. Their contact information is:
Senator Irene Aguilar at 303-866-4852 or email@example.com
Representative Roger Wilson at 303-866-2945 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Judy Solano at 303-866-2918 or email@example.com
We urge you on behalf of both the rental industry, and yourself, to contact Senator Aguilar and Representatives Wilson and Solano, and express your strong opposition to this bill. (SB 12-070) You should also contact your own state Senator and state Representative and urge them to vote against this bill. If you don’t know who your state senator and representative are, you can look them up on our website, at the following link: (www.thslawfirm.com /legislation.php)
For more in-depth information on this legislation, please see the February 2012 issue of Landlord News.
EPA Amends Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule Effective July 6
NMHC Guidance: Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule
Update: EPA Amends RRP Rule Effective July 6
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has amended its Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. The new requirements go into effect on July 6, 2010. This memo outlines the changes of interest to apartment firms, which are largely in the area of recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The amendment (75 FR 24802) is available at http://bit.ly/cyZdxr.
Resident Notification: Renovation firms (including property maintenance staff) are now required to provide owners and the occupants of a building being renovated with a copy of records demonstrating compliance with the RRP training and work practice requirements. This information must be delivered along with the final invoice for the renovation, or within 30 days of the completion of the renovation, whichever is earlier. This notification can be accomplished through the use of EPA’s “Sample Renovation Recordkeeping Checklist’’ (www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/samplechecklist.pdf). Firms may also develop their own forms or checklists as long as they include all of the required information.
For common area renovations, the renovation firm (or property maintenance staff) must provide the residents “of the affected housing units” with instructions on how to review or obtain this information from the renovation firm at no charge. These instructions must be included in the notice provided to each affected unit under 40 CFR 45.84(b)(2)(i) or on signs posted in the common areas under 40 CFR 745.84(b)(2)(ii). EPA further stipulates that this “information should be provided in a short, easily read checklist or other form.”
Cleaning Verification versus Clearance Testing: The RRP rule does not require clearance testing, but it does require cleaning verification once the work area has been cleaned up. Cleaning verification involves wiping horizontal surfaces with a moist cleaning cloth (i.e., a wet Swiffer) and comparing it to the EPA Cleaning Verification card. The wet cleaning cloth is then visually evaluated in comparison to an EPAprovided color sheet to determine whether the work area is clean. (See 40 CFR 745.85 or the “Clean Up and Verification” section of NAA/NMHC’s RRP White Paper for additional details.)
Under the revised RRP, if a renovation firm or property maintenance staff elect to use a laboratory analysis of dust wipes (i.e., dust clearance testing) instead of using the simple “Swiffer” cleaning verification test, then the lab test results must be provided to both the occupant of the unit that was tested and the owner of the building. Property owners must maintain these reports since they are required to be disclosed under Section 1018 to future occupants of the specific unit and/or at time of sale of the property.
With respect to renovations in common areas, EPA is also requiring property owners to make these records made available to residents “of the affected housing units” by providing individual notices or posted signs on how to review or obtain copies. (See Lead Disclosure Rule, 40 CFR part 745, subpart F.)
Worker Training: The amendment makes minor modifications to the certification, accreditation and state authorization process. Under the RRP rule, renovators are certified for a five-year period. EPA has stated that any worker certified prior to April 22, 2009 will have a full five years of certification beginning on April 22, 2009, the effective date of the rule. Currently, training providers (instructors) complete a 16-hour course. EPA now believes that training instructors need only complete an eight-hour renovator or dust sampling technician training instead of a 16-hour or longer abatement course. States seeking to develop their own worker certification program under the RRP rule have been granted an additional two years to demonstrate to EPA that they meet the requirements of the RRP rule.
Opt-Out: EPA has eliminated the original rule’s “opt-out” provision for owner-occupied single-family properties; however, this is not materially relevant to apartment firms.
Warranty of Habitability Law Under Attack in Senate Now!
The Senate has scheduled SB 185 for the Senate Floor. Contact the Senators below and ask them to VOTE NO on SB 185!
This new bill aims to:
- Remove the requirement that a tenant must provide written notice to a landlord in the case of a breach.
- Expands the definition of a violation of the Warranty of Habitability.
- Adds new treble damages language.
- This bill would undo several months of negotiation that took place ONLY 17 MONTHS AGO.
- Those negotiations cost the taxpayers of Colorado upwards of $20,000 for mediation.
- This bill REMOVES KEY COMPONENTS that were negotiated to achieve a balanced policy for all parties involved.
This bill removes the statutory requirement for written notice. Required written notice is fundamental protection for both tenants and property owners.
Since it is real and tangible documentation, it is easy for either party to prove that notice was given or received. A tenant can easily prove he or she gave notice if a property owner denies receiving notice. A property owner is protected from tenants who claim to have given notice, but never do.
If a warranty of habitability case goes to court, it allows the court to quickly resolve the notice issue. This allows the court to focus on the real issues of determining whether a breach of the warranty of habitability occurred and how a breach should be cured.
It creates a fixed timeline for a property owner and tenant to manage a problem. Without written notice, the timetable for fixing a problem may shift dramatically depending on what the parties claimed to have said or remembered about when notice was provided.
Written notice is especially helpful when a third party is managing a rental property. It allows a third party manager to show the property owner that a problem which needs to be fixed truly exists, and needs to be addressed immediately.
Required written notice does not prevent a tenant from calling or giving other forms of notice. A tenant may always provide oral or other forms of notice to the property owner if there is a problem. In fact, any property owner would encourage and appreciate immediate notice of a problem. But if a tenant claims a breach of warranty of habitability, which is a serious allegation, the property owner should have a right to receive written notice about the matter.
Required written notice does not limit any of the remedies available to tenants. Written notice is a separate and independent issue from the remedies available to tenants. The warranty of habitability adopted in 2008 had more tenant remedies than most states. Required written notice does not in any way diminish the number of remedies available to tenants.
SB 185 places greater strain on the court system through INJUNCTIVE RELIEF and broadens the definition of a violation of Warranty of Habitability. By allowing the tenant to obtain injunctive relief in county courts, including small claims courts, this bill will generate more traffic in our court systems.
SB-185 IMPOSES TREBLE DAMAGES to be awarded to the tenant for a violation.
Sen. Mary Hodge (D-25)
Capitol Phone: 303.866.4855
Home Phone: 303.659.3298
Sen. Joyce Foster (D-35)
Capitol Phone: 303.866.4875
Home Phone: 303.343.6868
Sen. Dan Gibbs (D-16)
Capitol Phone: 303.866.4873
Home Phone: 970.333.4707
Sen. Rollie Heath (D-18)
Capitol Phone: 303.866.4872
Home Phone: 720.272.2389
Sen. Chris Romer (D-32)
Capitol Phone: 303-656-9531
Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D-24)
Capitol Phone: 303-866-4863
Home Phone: 303.469.9217
Sen. Michael Johnston (D-33)
Capitol Phone: 303.866.4864
Sen. Suzanne Williams (D-28)
Capitol Phone: 303-866-3432
Home Phone: 303.751.2396
Senator Evie Hudak (D-19)
Capitol Phone: 303.866.4840
Home Phone: 303.423.8569
Senator Linda Newell (D-26)
Capitol Phone: 303.866.4846
Home Phone: 303.956.9448
Rental Housing Industry Opposes HB1017 - Say No To Rent Control in Colorado
Please contact your State Senator to tell them that you want them to vote against this harmful legislation. Contact information for your State Senators can be found using the “Locate your local House and Senate members” feature in the left column of this page
HB-1017 concerning Rent Control is now headed to a vote on the Senate floor the week of March 22nd.
1) This unnecessary bill attempts to allow local governments and private developers the right to make individually negotiated agreements for the creation of affordable multi-family rental housing. The fact is developers can already do this. There is no need for this legislation. Land Use agreements are in place today and they work.
2) Additionally, Sponsors say this will only affect new buildings. NOT SO! Anytime a retrofit or remodel is done, a permit is required and the municipality can then mandate affordable units to be included before the permit is approved.
3) Passing this bill creates a slippery slope toward permitting statewide rent control, in which municipalities would be able to control how a developer builds their property.
4) HB1017 gives municipalities an upper hand in negotiations creating an unlevel playing field.
The following editorial was published in the Denver Post on March 17, 2010: Carroll: Halt the Return of Local Rent Control
Carbon Monoxide Proposed Legislation HB09-1091
HUD and DOJ Issue New Joint Statement on Fair Housing
On March 5th the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a joint statement on the subject of Reasonable Modifications Under the Fair Housing Act. The HUD and DOJ are jointly responsible for enforcing the Federal Fair Housing Act that prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. One type of disability discrimination prohibited by the Act is a refusal to permit, at the expense of the person with a disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such person if such modifications may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises.
HUD and DOJ frequently respond to complaints alleging that housing providers have violated the Act by refusing reasonable modifications to persons with disabilities. This Joint Statement provides technical assistance regarding the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities and housing providers under the Act relating to reasonable modifications.
This newly released joint statement sets out specific questions and answers with illustrations of specific scenarios and it is recommended that all of our multi-family housing providers take time to read and review this HUD/DOJ Statement on Reasonable Modifications.
Senate Moves to Increase Court Filing Fees Again
On March 17th SB 08-206 Co-sponsored by Shaffer/Penry was introduced. This bill creates a cash fund for a state justice center and a new Colorado state museum by increasing civil court fees. This bill strikes the previous increases made in last year’s HB-1054 and creates even higher increases in court filing fees. This NEW INCREASE in court fees will have a direct impact on the fees charged to Multi-Family Housing Industry providers. It has been assigned to the Judiciary, Finance and Appropriation Committees.
This law, when passed, will increase County Court filing fees to a staggering $110.00 per case, plus the forced electronic filing of fee of $6.85, or a total of $116.85. Filing fees are currently, $60.00, plus $6.85 for the electronic filing fee, or a total of $66.85. Right now the total is $66.85. This would raise the total filing fee to $116.85. This is an increase of 75%, This is, of course, on top of the 45% increase last year (last year fees, not including the electronic filing fee, went from $46 to $60). NOW when the forced electronic filing fee of $6.85 is included, in less than a year-and-a-half, fees will have increased from $46 to $116.85 (including the forced electronic filing fee), or to put it bluntly the fees will have increased a staggering 154% in a little over a year.
You can download the Bill by clicking on the download button below. We have prepared contact information for HTS clients to access so that they can express their concerns to the members of the legislature. Click here to obtain contact information on the legislators who are sponsoring this Bill.
2008 Landlord Tenant Bill Introduced and Now Moves Forward
HB-1356 Concerning Landlord and Tenant Relations. Representative Michael Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs) introduced the Landlord Tenant Bill on Friday, March 7th. The Bill includes a warranty of habitability and several penalties if a property owner does not comply with the warranty. The bill does not require a tenant to provide written notice if a warranty of habitability claim is asserted. Because of this, industry groups oppose the Bill until it is amended to require written notice. Members of the industry believe that written notice is essential because it is the only reasonable method for tenants to use to communicate to property owners about habitability issues. Property owners have a right to know about serious allegations and should have the opportunity to address these allegations before facing significant financial penalties. Senior Partner Mark Tschetter has worked for the past nine months with industry committees and members of the legislature to reach reasonable compromises on the crafting of this legislation. Mark will continue to actively work on seeking appropriate amendments that will represent the best interests of the multi-family housing industry. To keep informed of the status and progress of this legislation, attend the HTS Monthly Client Luncheons and look for updates in the Landlord News.
Multi-Family Housing Community Dodges 2007 Legislative Bullet
The multi-family housing community dodged a legislative bullet this year when the onerous proposed legislation championed by Representative Michael Merrifield failed to be introduced. But this is not a victory in the legislative war being waged on the Apartment Community, it is more like a win in a skirmish of the ongoing hostilities.
Anti-industry legislation has been introduced in five of the last six legislative sessions, and we can anticipate that Representative Merrifield and his supporters will return in the next session to take up the fray once more. National and State legislatures and elections can and do have a major impact on the multi-family housing industry, as we’ve found over and over again. And, they will continue to do so. Therefore, it is imperative that members of the multi-family housing industry take both an interest and a proactive stance in supporting their positions on any proposed legislation and be actively involved in helping to elect pro-industry candidates.
It is a widely known fact that, “Those who participate are likely to have more political influence than those who don’t.”
BELOW IS A LEGISLATIVE REPORT SUMMARIZING THE AAMD AND CAA OVERVIEW OF THE LEGISLATION AND LOBBYING ON THIS ISSUE
Newsletter of the Colorado Apartment Association
- May 2007
- No Changes to Landlord Tenant Laws for 2007
On May 9, the 66th Session of the Colorado General Assembly ends. Over 600 bills have been introduced in the Colorado House and Senate this legislative session. But more important for the apartment industry than what was introduced, is what was not introduced.
The landlord tenant bill sponsored by Representative Michael Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs) has been tabled for this year. The bill contained sweeping and complex provisions that would have fundamentally altered Colorado’s landlord tenant laws. It included concepts such as warranty of habitability, and increased court jurisdiction over landlord tenant disputes. It contained a host of restrictions and imposed many new obligations on landlords. It also enumerated an expansive list of tenant remedies.
For example, the bill gave tenants the “self-help” right to repair or contract someone to repair minor defects in a rental unit. Another remedy allowed tenants to remain in possession of a rental unit even when rent is unpaid. Another example illustrates the additional burdens placed on rental housing. Under current Colorado law, a seller of residential property (including apartments) is required to disclose whether a property was previously used as a methamphetamine laboratory. However, if seller meets strict remediation standards set by the state, seller is not required to disclose the existence of a meth lab. The underlying rationale for the law is that remediation satisfies any ongoing health and safety concerns associated with the property, so there is no need to disclose. The proposed landlord tenant bill expanded Colorado’s meth lab disclosure requirement. Under the bill, landlords would have to provide a written disclosure to every tenant stating whether a meth lab ever existed in an apartment complex or rental property. This duty to disclose for landlords is much higher than the standard set forth under existing Colorado law for property sellers. Under the proposed bill, landlords would never be able to remove the stigma of having a meth lab on a rental property. This is because landlords would have an absolute duty to disclose. Even if they complied with state remediation standards and undertook expensive meth lab clean-up costs, they would still have to disclose the existence of a meth lab. The landlord tenant bill allowed tenants to sue landlords for the greater of three months’ rent or three times actual damages, attorney fees, and costs if a landlord failed to disclose a methamphetamine laboratory on a rental premises (even if remediation occurred).
In addition to these new requirements, the latest bill incorporated issues seen in prior years – cap on late fees, mandatory grace period for late payment of rent, additional termination notice for residents, and a shorter time period to return security deposits. On each of these points, the bill looked to significantly strengthen the residents’ position in the tenancy relationship. The landlord tenant bill would have substantially increased the cost of doing business in Colorado. The new laws would have created barriers for the rental housing market, choked future growth, and stifled expansion of Colorado’s housing market. A landlord tenant bill has been proposed during five of the last six legislative sessions, and this year looked no different.
In mid-February, Rep. Merrifield met with stakeholders to discuss the landlord tenant bill he intended to sponsor this session. His ambitious 37-page bill completely overhauled Colorado’s landlord tenant laws. After the February meeting with Rep. Merrifield, the stakeholders met several times to discuss the bill. During this process, a committed group of volunteers from the Colorado Apartment Association (CAA) met with tenant rights’ groups who strongly supported the landlord tenant bill. The CAA representatives came from diverse backgrounds and represented the entire spectrum of industry viewpoints. These stake-holder meetings were productive because the groups came to agreement on certain key concepts, such as warranty of habitability. But representatives could not agree on specific details to implement these concepts.
After several weeks, the groups agreed the scope and size of the proposed landlord tenant bill was too big, and also agreed to postpone introduction
of the bill till next year in order to craft a landlord tenant bill that has meaningful input from all stakeholders. It is clear the groups are committed to continue an ongoing dialogue over the coming months.
The negotiations this year on the landlord tenant bill show that advocacy can take many different forms. In prior years, the Colorado Apartment Association used intense lobbying efforts to prevent bills from being enacted into Colorado law. This year, the CAA focused on building consensus among stakeholders to achieve its objectives. In the coming months, the CAA is optimistic in facing the new challenge of working with a diverse group of organizations in drafting a landlord tenant bill that fairly represents the interests of the apartment industry.
Bill for an Act Concerning Landlord and Tenant Relations
Sponsor: Michael Merrifield
Status: Introduction deferred to 2008 Legislative Season
A Landlord/Tenant planned for introduction in the Colorado Legislature by Representative Michael Merrifield of Colorado Springs has been deferred for introduction until next year. This bill is much more expansive than prior versions. Among the provisions, the bill includes a grace period in which an owner cannot collect fees for late payment of rent, as well as a restrictive cap on late fees an owner can charge. In addition, security deposits must be returned to the tenant within 30 days, and owners must comply with a number of new disclosure and notice requirements. It requires significantly more time and effort to evict a tenant under the new bill and owners must adhere to higher maintenance standards (warranty of habitability). Tenants will have the right to withhold rent or terminate a lease from owners who fail to comply with the new law.
The Firm will continue to be actively involved in following and lobbying this bill when it is introduced. Ultimately, the multi-family housing industry will need to rally the support and action of everyone in order to overcome this new Landlord Tenant bill.