How many apartment complexes and other structures have dangerous smoke residue, and the landlord doesn’t want to find out how bad it is for fear of losing tenants? A proposed Colorado law takes aim at this difficult issue.
The executive summary for Colorado HB23-1254 provides:
The bill expands the conditions covered by the warranty of habitability for residential premises in relation to indoor air quality, water quality and other health and safety issues. In the bill, water damage, fire damage and damage due to a natural or environmental event are added as conditions under which a residential premises is deemed uninhabitable.
The bill requires a landlord to have a residential premises inspected and tested by a certified industrial hygienist or an industrial hygienist to determine whether the premises are safe for habitation. The bill also clarifies the landlord̵7;s responsibility for renovating a residential premises to a habitable standard and how a tenant must notify a landlord if there are habitability problems with the tenant’s residence.
The bill directs the executive director of the Department of Public Health and Environment to establish health and safety standards for habitability by January 1, 2026.
The bill prohibits a landlord from retaliating against a tenant for making a complaint in good faith about the conditions of the residential premises and provides conditions for a tenant to terminate a lease if a habitability issue is not addressed.
Fire and Smoke Damaged Buildings has much more science about the hazardous residue left over from fires, especially urban fires like the Marshall Fire in Colorado. I commented on these concerns last month After The Urban Wildfire and Safety Concerns.
For policyholders, public adjusters and restoration contractors facing fire and smoke damaged buildings, I suggest finding a competent industrial hygienist to determine the extent of smoke, soot and ash residue as an important first step after a fire investigation. But unfortunately, some insurance companies are like the landlords in the apartment – they really don’t want to find all the dangerous remains because a thorough investigation will only increase the amount of money they have to pay. Just read Independent Adjuster Leader admits adjusters tell engineers not to place opinions in reports that increase claim value to get a sense of this problem of ethical claims.
The people’s safety must be the highest law.
—Marcus Tullius Cicero