Colorado Landlord Tenant Laws
Colorado has some very detailed and specific laws regarding maintenance of premises and the rights of victims of domestic violence that go beyond what is required in many other states. Colorado landlords need to ensure that they are familiar with these special provisions, especially if they are moving in from other states where there are not as many requirements in these areas.
Though some areas of Colorado rental law are very detailed, others are almost entirely without statutes. In these cases, disputes are sometimes settled by prior precedent in court cases. For example, the “benefit of the bargain” rule that establishes the extent of damages that a landlord can collect stems from a state Supreme Court ruling (Schneiker vs. Gordon) rather than existing in the state statutes.
What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in Colorado?
Colorado rental laws are covered under the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 38 – Property – Real and Personal – Tenants and Landlords. It is important to note, however, that individual cities in Colorado very often have their own codes and ordinances that also have to be followed. For example, the cities of Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins all have unique local ordinances that landlords need to be familiar with. Some good places to brush up on local statutes and ordinances include the official city website, the local law library or public library, or the offices of the city or county manager.
Security Deposit Rules
Though Colorado does have some complicated rules governing rental arrangements, the state is fairly hands-off in the area of security deposits. There are no statutes on maximum amounts, landlords are not required to pay interest to tenants or place the funds in a specific type of account, and there are no limitations on pet deposits. However, Colorado does not allow non-refundable security deposits. The landlord is required to return the deposit to the tenant in full provided they are not owed back rent or damages.
CRS 38-12-30 outlines the terms of whether or not the security deposit needs to be returned. The default amount of time to return a deposit is within 30 days, unless another arrangement was agreed to in the lease, but that arrangement is not valid if it is greater than 60 days. If the tenant is forced to vacate due to hazardous conditions, the landlord must return the deposit within 72 hours spanning only business days. The landlord does not have to provide an itemized list in the case of damages, but they do have to provide the tenant with written notice of the amount they intend to withhold during the period before the deposit is to be returned. If the landlord fails to provide written notice during this time, they waive their right to the deposit regardless of damages. If the landlord wrongfully withholds a deposit, the tenant may recover up to three times the amount of the deposit along with any attorney and court costs.
Lease, Rent and Fee Rules
Colorado is also fairly hands-off about fees, at least at the state level. There are no statutes regarding late fee amounts, advance notice of a rent increase, return check fees, application fees or prepaid rent. There is also no statute that provides for a tenant to withhold rent for repairs, and landlords are under no obligation to minimize damages in the case of an abandoned lease (though they are also restricted to only collecting what they would have been paid originally had the lease been honored).
Colorado landlords do need to be aware that there are restrictions on handling abandoned property, however, which are spelled out in CRS 38-20-116. Tenants are also allowed to withhold rent due to problems with the habitability of the unit, under certain circumstances that are listed in CRS 38-12-507.
If a yearly lease runs over without a new lease being signed, the law automatically regards the tenant as being on a monthly lease (a “holdover tenant”), with all the rules and protections that govern such a lease. However, once the tenant pays rent for one full month, the lease is automatically presumed by the law to be renewed for an additional year.
Notice and Entry Rules
CRS 13-40-107-4 makes the rules about notice of lease termination clear. A yearly lease can be terminated with 91 days notice. Leases longer than six months but shorter than a full year require 28 days notice. Month-to-month leases require seven days notice, and week-to-week leases require three days notice.
Eviction for nonpayment can take place with only three days notice. Three days notice are also required for a lease violation, but the tenant has the option of remedying the violation during that time to continue with their lease. Repeat violations can enable an immediate lease termination, however; the exact circumstances are covered in CRS 13-40-104-e.5.
There are no statutes about prior notice for entry by a landlord. Lockouts and utility shutoffs by the landlord are never allowed, and the tenant can sue for damages if they occur. Self-help evictions without the consent of both parties are not allowed, with the exception of incidents involving state cleanup of an illegal drug lab on the premises.
Required Disclosures and Notes
CRS 38-12-505 details all of the specific duties a landlord must fulfill to maintain a habitable premise. Among other utilities the landlord must provide running water, reasonable amounts of hot water, connection to a sewage disposal system, functioning and well-maintained heating facilities, and electrical lighting that is up to code. Landlords are also responsible for exterior waterproofing and weather protection, maintenance of plumbing and gas facilities, cleanliness of common areas and the good working order of locks. Landlords must also handle extermination if a tenant reports infestation of insects, rodents or vermin in the dwelling. Any of these listed deficiencies must be shown to materially and substantially limit the tenant’s use of their unit before the unit can be considered legally uninhabitable.
Provisions for the duties of landlords in regards to domestic violence victims are found in CRS 38-12-402 and CRS 13-40-107.5c. It is not legal for the landlord to make it a lease violation to repeatedly call police officers and emergency assistance in response to a domestic abuse situation. Landlords may request proof of domestic violence status, but they may not terminate the lease of a domestic violence victim. A tenant who experiences sexual assault or domestic violence is allowed to terminate the lease early, but may be required to pay one extra month’s rent.
Landlords are not allowed to retaliate in response to good faith complaints by tenants. Retaliation includes increasing the rent, decreasing services, or threatening to bring action against the tenant directly in response to a complaint. Tenants may make a valid complaint either directly to the landlord or to a government agency, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) being the central agency that handles such complaints.
Small Claims Courts
CRS 13-6-403 establishes a small claims court limit of $7,500. Eviction cases are not heard in small claims court. Both landlords and tenants who are anticipating a legal dispute would be well advised to consult the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Local Small Claims Practices sheet, which details the individual procedures and locations for each district.
Colorado Realtors Associations
- Colorado Association of Realtors
- Apartment Association of Metro Denver
- Denver Metro Area Association of Realtors
- South Metro Denver Realtors Association
- The Aurora Association of Realtors
- Boulder Area Realtor’s Association
- Pikes Peak Association of Realtors
- Fort Collins Board of Realtors
- Mountain Metro Association of Realtors