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Bill calling for safe living conditions for renters clears Colorado Senate

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DENVER (KDVR) — The Problem Solvers have helped shine a light on dozens of stories about unsafe living conditions for Colorado renters. State senators passed a bill Monday that they hope will cut down on those instances, requiring building owners to keep tenants safe.

Lawmakers say this new bill is designed to ensure landlords make repairs in a timely manner, especially when a renter’s life and safety are at stake.

“What Senate Bill 094 seeks to do is to ensure every tenant in Colorado has safe and livable housing,” bill sponsor Sen. Julie Gonzales said.

The bill calls on apartment managers to follow what’s known as the state’s Warranty of Habitability law. The new measure stems from a case that went before the Colorado Court of Appeals last summer, where a Denver-area renter took the owners of his apartment complex to court for not following that law.

“He had the tiles on his shower separated from the wall, was concerned for years about mold damage, had direct conversations with his property manager, wrote letters to his landlord, and then also invited CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) to come and inspect for mold. And somehow, that wasn’t enough,” Gonzales said.

The court sided with the unit managers, saying the tenant needed to strictly follow the law that allows renters to sue landlords, specifically calling on tenants to provide notice allowing landlords to enter an uninhabitable unit.

Landlords would be on timeline for repairs

Lawmakers said they brought this bill to protect renters after the court’s decision. If the bill becomes law in Colorado, complex managers would have to fix issues in a timely manner without evading accountability. Landlords would have to meet a timeline of 14 days for most issues and seven days for life-threatening issues.

“Pest infestations, mold, lack of running water for days on end. Currently, there are timelines where a landlord has to begin repairs. What Senate bill 094 seeks to do is make sure there are also timelines when those repairs have to be completed,” Gonzales said.

Though the bill got widespread support, it did receive pushback from some lawmakers. Some said it goes too far while others argued it would cause rent to increase. Gonzales said landlords should not be charging people for unaddressed emergencies.

“Our bill just makes sure people have a safe place to live. And if opposition are going to say this will raise rent, I don’t know what state we are living in,” Gonzales said.

The bill cleared the Senate 21-13. It now heads to the House to repeat the entire process.

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