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Union, builders at odds over Prop 201′s new home requirements

GOODYEAR – Mary and Terry Landa said they have spent about $20,000 fixing a leaky roof, covering live wiring and sealing vents to keep bugs out of the home they bought 2 1/2 years ago in this fast-growing Phoenix suburb.

They say that’s because their builder didn’t follow through with the repairs. The Landas want their money back, but they aren’t optimistic.

“We want what we paid for,” Mary Landa said. “We want to be safer. We just want to live peacefully in our home.”

Arizona voters will decide this November whether to require builders to provide a 10-year warranty on each new home. Proposition 201, dubbed the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights by proponents, would allow homeowners to choose who repairs defects on their homes and guarantee fair compensation for repairs not completed.

The proposition also would prohibit sales contracts from requiring alternate means of resolving disputes, such as mediation and arbitration. Prospective homebuyers would be also allowed to sue over repairs. The measure would reduce the notice period for buyers to request repairs from 90 days to 60 days.

The measure has pitted labor unions, which are pushing for the proposition, against homebuilders, which contend there are already adequate laws in place. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, much of the money for and against Proposition 201 has come from those groups.

The measure was put forward by the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights Committee, consisting primarily of members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 359. A call to the local was returned by Rebekah Friend, executive director of the Arizona AFL-CIO, who said the proposition’s provisions should already be standard practice in the industry.

Friend said union and non-union workers have complained about being pressured to build homes quickly rather than focus on quality.

The opposition campaign is led by a group calling itself Arizonans Against Lawsuit Abuse. Its chairman, Spencer Kamps, is the vice president for legislative affairs for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.

Kamps said claims of rushed work and a lack of focus on quality are untrue because builders who did that wouldn’t stay in business. He said the proposition is being pushed by union interests and trial lawyers and would drive up home prices and would unnecessarily prohibit mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes.

“Instead, it will only encourage and promote frivolous lawsuits by lawyers trying to make a buck when homeowners just want to fix a problem,” Kamps said.

Ann Seiden, vice president of Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the proposition wouldn’t help homeowners.

“Instead it is going to harm them in a way that they are not going to have the choices like arbitration and trying to solve the problem without having to go to court to find a solution,” Seiden said.

The proposition wouldn’t help the Landas, the Goodyear homeowners, because it would apply to homes purchased after the change takes effect.

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