Legislative Update: May 1, 2017

Bill to Watch: HB 1354
If you’re a mobile homeowner in Colorado and you failed to pay your annual property taxes, your county treasurer is required to sell the outstanding tax lien at public auction to the highest bidder. If you are among the thousands who live in mobile home communities and do not own the land under your home and fail to pay the back taxes within one year, the person who bought your tax lien can file for ownership of your property and legally remove you from your home.

Historically, few, if any, people who purchase tax liens have actually filed for ownership rights after the one-year redemption period has closed. Recently, however, mobile homes have become appreciating assets because of Colorado’s affordable housing shortage across the state. Meanwhile, tax lien purchasers have begun taking ownership of these homes and reselling them for far more than they initially invested. Some investors have bought these mobile homes for as little as $63, evicted the current resident and then resold that home for a considerable profit.

House Bill 1354, sponsored by Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Sens. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, seeks to abate this practice. Specifically, the bill removes the requirement that the county treasurers must sell the tax liens when taxes have not been paid. The proposal gives county treasurers the authority to prioritize which delinquent mobile-home taxes they should collect. This much-needed authority would allow county treasures to protect Colorado’s most-vulnerable mobile homeowners.

While CCLP is concerned that this bill does not address some of the reasons why mobile home owners get into this situation, we support this legislation because it may help keep people from losing their homes over a relatively small amount of unpaid taxes. Regardless of whether the bill becomes law, we will continue to work with stakeholders to search for a comprehensive solution to this problem.

Last Wednesday, HB 1354 was unanimously approved by the House Local Government Committee. We look forward to supporting this bill as it makes its way through the legislature.

Happenings on the Hill
This week has been busy for the CCLP staff. For those keeping score:

* Last Monday, the House approved HB 1305, the Chance to Compete Act. HB 1305 prohibits most employers from asking about criminal history on initial job applications – giving more Coloradans a chance to be considered on their own merits and to build financial security for themselves and their families through a life-changing job. The bill, which now moves to the Senate, was recently endorsed by the Colorado Department of Corrections.

* Also last Monday, the House approved HB 1310, which limits the application fee a landlord may charge a prospective tenant to the amount necessary to cover actual costs for a personal reference check, consumer credit report or tenant-screening report. Building upon the groundwork set by 9to5 Colorado, CCLP developed HB 1310, which is sponsored in the House by Reps. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood and Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora and in the Senate by Sen. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder.

* HB 1312, another CCLP-developed bill, was approved by the House Local Government Committee on Wednesday. HB 1312 requires landlords to give renters a copy of their lease and a receipt for rent payments made with cash or a money order. The legislation moves to the House floor.

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-By Bob Mook