No Support for Support Animal Bill

Colorado House Bill 16-1201, which would have established additional regulations for emotional support animals, has been killed by vote of a house committee.  Although the proposed bill did not attempt to provide guidelines for determining when support animals must be permitted under state and federal fair housing laws, it would have required Colorado licensed medical professionals to make a finding regarding a disability or that there was insufficient information to make such a finding.  Most significantly, it would have required the licensee to meet with the patient in person.  Unlike service animals under the ADA, standards governing emotional support animals are virtually nonexistent and there are no restrictions on the types of animals that qualify as assistance or companion pets. Associations frequently end up relying on statements made by unlicensed individuals who may be out of state and never even met the individuals making requests.  The standards are vague enough that associations may face a risk if the association fails to make a proper determination.

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Emotional Assistance Animal Legislation Introduced

ESA

House Bill 16-1201 has been introduced and would require licensed medical professionals to meet with a patient and determine the need for emotional support animals.  These licensed professionals include physicians, physician assistants, anesthesiologist assistants, nurses, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors and addiction counselors.  Prior to granting permission for an emotional support animal, the licensed professional would be required to determine if:

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U.S. House Passes FHA Approval Process Changes

On February 2, 2016, H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act” passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives and was referred to the U.S. Senate by a vote of 427-0.  H.R. 3700 addresses problems with the current FHA condominium program.  The bill directs the Secretary to streamline the project certification requirements so that recertifications are substantially less burdensome than certifications.  The bill also directs the Secretary to consider lengthening the time between certifications for approved properties and allowing updating of information rather than resubmission.

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Following Suit to Avoid (Law)suits?

As state legislators struggle to develop a cohesive approach to construction defect reform in Colorado, several cities continue their efforts to address this at the local level. Despite recent statements by the Governor advocating a state-level approach, local municipalities are still considering whether to take this on. Most recently, the City of Longmont announced that it is exploring additional measures to address construction defect reform. According to one member of the Longmont city council, the City is considering alternatives to ordinances adopted by other cities, including a requirement that owners in HOA communities must sue builders individually. Under the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act, associations have the right to file lawsuits on behalf of association members for matters affecting two or more owners in the community.

Colorado Governor Supporting Construction Defect Reform

Governor John Hickenlooper recently called upon the state assembly to continue bipartisan efforts to address construction defect reform in 2016. Based on the Governor’s comments, Coloradans will once again see bills introduced to try to balance the interests of builders, owners and HOAs.  According to the Governor, the issues surrounding construction defect reform are “too important to give up on.”  This perspective from the Governor is supported in light of recent attempts to address construction defect concerns at local levels by an increasing number of cities and municipalities. Disputes between interest groups have stalled past efforts at construction defect reform.

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