BILL SUMMARY for HB09-1235
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
06:17 PM -- House Bill 09-1235
Representative Acree, prime sponsor, presented House Bill 09-1235 concerning measures to address unsafe conditions arising as a result of the abandonment of real property. The bill allows a person with a secured interest in an unoccupied property to take steps to protect the property from vandalism and trespassing, without being deemed in possession of the property. Local governments may accept the aid of volunteers in removing rubbish, weeds or other nuisances from unoccupied properties. Such volunteers are provided immunity from any civil action resulting from unpaid services performed on a property. The person holding title to, or in possession of, an unoccupied foreclosed property is immune from liability from any civil action brought by a volunteer due to dangerous conditions on the property or negligent conduct of any person.
Representative Acree addressed the committee report from the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, dated February 17, 2009. The committee discussed immunity from premises liability under the bill.
06:34 PM -- Mike Hodges, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, spoke in opposition to the bill. Mr. Hodges voiced support for the intent of the bill, however he believes this is bad public policy. He stated his belief that immunity should only be used in special circumstances. Immunity from civil liability allows a person who committed a legitimate wrong to escape the consequences of that wrong. He continued to reiterated that granting immunity is bad public policy. The committee extensively discussed liability of volunteers.
06:52 PM -- Greg Romberg, City of Aurora, spoke in support of the bill. The Aurora City Council is in favor of the bill. Mr. Romberg believes that when properties go into foreclosure and are neglected, that reflects badly on the whole city. He stated his hope that allowing volunteers to help with cleanup efforts is a cost-effective way to help cities maintain properties.
07:01 PM -- Erin Goff, Colorado Municipal League, spoke in unofficial support of the bill. Ms. Goff reiterated testimony of previous witnesses.
07:03 PM -- Alan Engles, Mission Viejo Homeowner's Association, spoke in support of the bill. Mr. Engles discussed the prominence of foreclosure in his area and stated that he relies on his volunteer base to maintain properties and property values.
07:10 PM -- Rob Voyvodic, Shennandoah Homeowner's Association, spoke in support of the bill. Mr. Voyvodic reiterated testimony of previous witnesses. He stated that there is currently a liability issue that prevents people from helping one another. He discussed the difficulties inherent in finding a responsible party to deal with vacant properties in a way that benefits the entire community. He indicated that Colorado should be a benchmark state with regard to this type of law.
Representative Levy announced that the bill would be laid over to March 9, 2009, and adjourned the committee.