As residents and developers in Lakewood move forward from the October 14th City Council vote to amend Colorado’s construction-defects law, I see several problems with the measure that they passed.
To begin, this new municipal ordinance may be in conflict with state law. Before any action can be taken using this ordinance as a guideline for future buildings, attorneys for both builders and homeowners would need to evaluate how this ordinance would come into play, if it could be followed at all.
In addition, while backers of the municipal measure allege it is for the benefit of existing condominium owners, there is no question this measure is designed almost exclusively for the benefit of homebuilders.
Measures like this, and attempts to modify laws that protect consumers, are often couched in terms of how they help the community at large, but often their primary purpose is to benefit the wealthy companies and builders who propose them, and they serve to limit or eliminate individual consumers’ access to meaningful protection and redress.
This is one more way that companies and institutions are working to duck accountability when they fail their customers. The Denver Post article about the measure from October 14, 2014, alludes to other attempts this legislative session to remove consumer protections, and I expect to see these measures renewed during the next legislative session. What is being discussed at the State Capitol is far more pernicious than what the Lakewood City Council enacted, and may result in consumers losing the right to a civil jury trial in certain instances.
It is important to truly understand the motives and rationale behind changes made to consumer-protection laws that are proposed and supported by the very businesses that would benefit. Changes to state consumer-protection laws like the ones made by Lakewood City Council weaken the ability for Colorado residents to protect their investments and their rights.