Sens Gonzales, Exum and Reps Froelich, Lindsay introduce legislation to protect tenants from unsafe housing


January 25, 2024

Note: The Denver Foundation is supporting Senate Bill 24-094

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 25, 2024

CONTACT: Kate Countryman (CEDP) (720) 746-8660

SB24-094 would ensure tenants can easily use the state’s current Warranty of Habitability Law to protect them from hazardous living conditions

Denver — Earlier this week, Senators Julie Gonzales (D-34) and Tony Exum Sr. (D-11) and Representatives Meg Froelich (D-03) and Mandy Lindsay (D-42) introduced Senate Bill 24-094 to protect tenants in Colorado and ensure that they have safe and healthy living conditions.

Colorado’s current Warranty of Habitability law requires landlords to maintain a minimum standard of healthy housing, but the law is not working as it was intended. Current law makes it difficult for tenants to request repairs from landlords, such as repairs to fix mold issues or sewage leaks. It also fails to protect tenants from extreme heat or failure of other necessities, like a working elevator. This can be devastating for children, older adults, and Coloradans with a disability.

“This bill is a simple but important fix to existing law. It’s important to do all we can to protect tenants and keep them safe and healthy, and we can do that without making it hard on landlords.” - Naomi Amaha, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at The Denver Foundation

“Without cleaning up and fixing our existing law, tenants will continue to be forced to live in homes with mold, sewage leaks, rodent infestations, and other serious conditions that can lead to hospitalization,” said Sen Exum. “This is unacceptable.”

“There are far too many examples like this in my district and across the state,” said Sen. Gonzales. “This is about more than just creating a bill to ensure landlords follow the law. This is about treating our neighbors with respect and dignity.”

“Unsafe living conditions are detrimental to all Coloradans, and the current laws in place to protect tenants from living in unsafe housing are not enough, said Melissa Mejía, Head of State & Local Policy, Community Economic Defense Project. This Warranty of Habitability legislation will change the current law so that it works for tenants. It’s time to update and clarify the current statute to ensure all Coloradans can thrive in a safe, healthy home.”

“This bill is a simple but important fix to existing law,” said Naomi Amaha, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at The Denver Foundation. “It’s important to do all we can to protect tenants and keep them safe and healthy, and we can do that without making it hard on landlords.”

“Housing is health care, and no one should become sick or hospitalized because of unsafe living conditions,” said Jack Regenbogen, Deputy Executive Director of Colorado Poverty Law Project. “Under the current law, people are not able to get repairs made that are needed to live safely. This crucial legislation will help ensure that every Coloradan has a healthy place to call home.”

This bill will:

  • Set reasonable notice requirements so tenants don’t need to pay an attorney to ask landlords to address issues.
  • Set presumptive timeframes for completing repairs and remediation, which can also remain flexible for landlords to adapt to unforeseen issues.
  • Clarify the process for when landlords must provide alternative lodging arrangements while they work to complete repair. 
  • Establish policies to allow tenants to use their own appropriate cooling in extreme heat.
  • Outline appropriate legal remedies if a rental becomes uninhabitable. 

The Colorado Poverty Law Project (CPLP), Community Economic Defense Project (CEDP), and The Denver Foundation support this bill. It is also supported by Towards Justice and other organizations.

CEDP partners with low-income and working people to build economic and racial equity. We do this by confronting economic abuse and investing in community wealth. We use an ever-evolving set of legal, economic, and advocacy tools to challenge and dismantle unjust systems, building quickly toward a world where all people have what they need to live and thrive.

The Denver Foundation is a community foundation that inspires people and mobilizes resources to improve life in Metro Denver. In 2023, the foundation and its donors awarded a record $140 million in grants. The Denver Foundation has three roles: stewarding an endowment to meet current and future needs for Metro Denver, working with community leaders to address the core challenges that face the community, and managing more than 1,000 charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, and businesses. 

The Colorado Poverty Law Project is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent homelessness through free legal assistance, housing navigation, community education, and advocacy. We believe that no one should become homeless for lack of access to housing justice.

A fact sheet on the bill is available HERE.

The final bill text is available HERE.

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