Homeownership is important to Coloradans, and no one should have to live in a home that is defective or unsafe. Every day some home buyers making the largest purchase they will ever make are forced to sign away their right to hold big developers accountable if they do shoddy work.

Many companies and employers include clauses in their contracts that prohibit the consumer from using the court system if they buy a faulty product or service.

Instead of having various options, consumers are limited to one: forced arbitration.

Forced arbitration clauses are often so deeply buried in legal jargon that consumers don’t know they’ve signed onto them. If you’ve ever signed a contract for a cellular phone, you’ve probably experienced this without even knowing it.

Arbitration favors the big guy because it’s a for-profit system that operates outside of the law and benefits those with the most time, money and resources. Big companies can reserve the right to take the consumer to court, but take away the right of the consumer to do the same, and often stack the deck in their favor by naming the arbitration company that must be used. Third party arbitrators don’t need to take into account the law or any other external factors in their decisions.

Forced arbitration is just one of the many conditions that some homeowners have to navigate when they discover their builder cut corners and they have a defective home. The time limit to begin any sort of construction defect complaint in Colorado is six years, but many home defects can’t be identified in this time frame, like water leaking problems in a drought period.

To put this into perspective, if the foundation of your home cracks because the company that built it used subpar materials, you only have six years to detect it and file a complaint. If the gas oven in that very same home is defective, you have an average warranty for 12 years.

In addition to working against time, homeowners rack up tremendous costs to get legal action started. Homeowners usually have to hire high dollar specialists like engineers to assess damage and make a plan for repairs. Forced arbitration prevents class-action lawsuits, which each family to individually shoulder the burden of taking these companies to task, even if many other families are affected in similar ways.

By limiting the rights of homeowners through forced arbitration, developers and builders who do shoddy work set up a system where individuals don’t stand a chance. Builders and developers should stand by their product and build homes right the first time. When they don’t, homeowners should have their Constitutional legal right to be made whole.

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