Court: Doc must leave apartment
August 14, 2008
ASPEN ” A local anesthesiologist who reportedly owns $10 million in real estate property has lost her legal battle with the affordable-housing office and has been ordered to move out of her apartment.
The Colorado Court of Appeals this month ruled against Amanda Tucker, who was sued by the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) more than two years ago.
Judge Jerry N. Jones ruled Tucker, who purchased an apartment at a foreclosure sale in 2005, had illegally lived in it because she didn’t meet the qualifications required by APCHA.
Since the unit was in the affordable-housing system with publicly recorded deed restrictions, Tucker was asked to provide proof that she was a qualified buyer, officials said.
Tucker never provided the required information, officials said. She later was informed of her right to a hearing, but didn’t request one. APCHA then informed Tucker that she was required to put the unit up for sale. When she didn’t, APCHA filed a complaint in district court.
Tucker then filed a motion to dismiss, saying that restrictions on the sale and resale of units constituted “rent control,” in violation of Colorado law. Tucker was shot down in court and she then filed an appeal, which was denied on Aug. 7. Tucker also was directed by the court to pay APCHA’s attorney fees, which are estimated to be more than $10,000.
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“APCHA filed this lawsuit in March of 2006 after spinning its wheels procedurally with Ms. Tucker during much of 2005,” said APCHA executive director Tom McCabe.
Tucker appealed after an October 2007 decision by 9th Judicial District Judge Daniel Petre, who ruled in favor of APCHA. The ruling ordered that Tucker sell her deed-restricted unit.
But Tucker has continued to live in the townhouse, which she bought for $179,000.
At the time Tucker bought the unit at Ritz-Carlton, at Aspen Highlands Village, she owned seven pieces of real estate in Hawaii with a reported value of $10 million, according to public records.
APCHA originally claimed that Tucker didn’t complete an application in order to qualify for ownership of the Category 3 housing unit, which puts a $91,000 cap on yearly earnings for owners with two dependents. Additionally, their net assets cannot exceed $150,000.
“Tucker never bothered to qualify,” McCabe said.
Neither Tucker nor her lawyer, John Case of Aspen, could be reached for comment.
Case told The Aspen Times last fall that he was appealing on the grounds that the affordable-housing unit was an invalid attempt to enact rent control.
Case argued that deed restrictions on the property are an illegal form of rent control because of a Colorado Supreme Court ruling known as the “Telluride case.”
The Telluride ruling, issued in 2000, went in favor of a developer and against the town of Telluride. The high court ruled that local governments cannot set rents in privately owned projects.
The ruling comes shortly after APCHA’s legal budget was nearly tripled in an effort to solidify the legality of affordable housing requirements and crack down on fraudulent residents of workforce housing.
“APCHA has a number of pending cases where the rental program is being challenged,” McCabe said. “In this case the sales program was put at risk, and hopefully that is now behind us. In any event, the decision is everything APCHA could want in the way of vindication about the issues. This decision may well help reinforce our position in other cases down the road.”