Legislative Update: March 17, 2017

Tenants need more notice
With affordable housing becoming increasing scarce and rents getting higher, landlords hold the advantage in Colorado’s ever-tightening rental market. Unfortunately, because landlords are only required to give seven days’ notice on rent increases or terminations on “month-to-month” tenancies, tenants can literally be left out in the cold. Recent reports indicate that Colorado’s population of homeless families has been growing as affordable housing becomes harder and harder to find.

Having only seven days to find a new home would be problematic for anyone, but the short notice is even more onerous for those with disabilities, senior citizens, low-income individuals with few affordable options and tenants with young children. Though landlords have a right to raise rent or end a month-to-month tenancy, renters need more than seven days to secure a new place, pack their household and move.

Fortunately, a bipartisan legislative proposal would give tenants more time. CCLP is working with Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson and Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, on legislation that will extend the state’s notification period for month-to-month tenants from seven days to 21 days. The bill also requires renters to provide 21 days’ notice to a landlord before deciding to move, which would be helpful for landlords should the market slacken again. Currently, 47 states require more than seven days’ notice on month-to-month tenancies. In fact, most states require 30 days notification – and some states require an even longer period of time.

CCLP is proud to support this bill because it gives Coloradans across the economic spectrum a little more breathing room to find a new home when they learn that their rent is going up or are told their lease is ending. The bill is a practical measure that respects both the landlords’ and the tenants’ needs.

The Notice to Quit bill has been filed and should drop soon. Last year, CCLP supported a similar bill with a 28-day notification period. Learn more about it in this blog posting.

Bill to Watch: SB 216
At a time when debt collectors top the list of all complaints received by the Attorney General, Colorado needs the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Indeed, the most common complaint is regarding debt collectors who continue to harass consumers for debt that wasn’t theirs or that they no longer owed. First passed in 1978, the act gives the AG the ability to license and regulate debt collectors and debt-buyers.

Senate Bill 216, sponsored by Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, would renew the act, which is now under sunset review. Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies recommends extending the act for 11 years and requires debt collectors to provide all relevant documentation regarding an original transaction in the sale of a debt.

CCLP joins its partners in strongly supporting SB 216 because it continues a vital source of consumer protection for Coloradans and strengthens current law to make sure debt buyers have adequate documentation before attempting to collect from consumers. Maintaining Colorado’s consumer protections on debt collection practices is all the more critical given signals that the Trump Administration may dismantle the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Introduced on March 14, the bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it is scheduled to be heard on April 3.

On the Radar: HB 1195
New parents already endure a lot of financial stress. Along with providing food, shelter and clothing for a newborn baby, they often need to juggle work and child-care schedules. On top of all of that, parents can spend up to $100 a month on diapers alone.

While food is exempt from sales tax, diapers are not. And while the sales tax burden from diapers probably won’t make or break families financially, it certainly doesn’t help. Indeed, for many low-income families, every penny counts.
HB 1195, sponsored by Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, creates a state sales-tax exemption for the sale, storage and use of diapers, beginning next year. CCLP supports the bill. HB 1195 was approved by the House Finance Committee and is currently awaiting review from the House Appropriations Committee.
– By Bob Mook