Last year, I wrote a post calling attention to stalled efforts in the Colorado legislature to pass meaningful construction defect reform. Shortly thereafter, the legislature got it done in the form of House Bill 17-1279. This bill creates an important pre-litigation notice-and-approval process whenever an HOA initiates a construction defect action in its own name or on behalf of two or more of its members.
Before May 2017, the pre-litigation requirements that an HOA had to fulfill before bringing a construction defect claim under the Colorado Construction Defect Action Reform Act (“CDARA”) were generally minor. For example, while many declarations required majority approval from the community prior to initiation of claims, in practice, what the industry was seeing is that some HOAs were making it so that only a majority of the HOA Board had to approve bringing the claim, rather than the majority of interested unit owners. It was also common that, even where the majority of owners were involved, they were often voting in favor of filing a lawsuit or arbitration without fully understanding the risks and costs. This practice presented a risk to developers—it is easier to get approval from a small group than from a larger group, and it is easier to get approval when the voting owners do not fully appreciate the risks and costs inherent in filing a claim.
Colorado House Bill 17-1279, which was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper in May 2017 and is codified at C.R.S. § 38-33.3-303.5, lessens these risks by amending the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”) to add certain pre-litigation requirements. Section 38-33.3-303.5 applies any time an HOA institutes a construction defect action its own name on behalf of itself or two or more unit owners on matters affecting the common interest community. C.R.S. §§ 38-33.3-302(1)(d), -303.5(1)(a).