Colorado Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Colorado landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Colorado Landlord Tenant Act.

CO Landlord Tenant Law

  • Colorado Statutes Title 38, Article 12 - Tenants and Landlords

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging $25 to $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)]

For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number)
  • current address
  • signed consent (e.g. "I authorize the use of the information and contacts provided to complete a credit, reference, and/or background check.")

Avoiding Discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.

In addition to the Federal Fair Housing Act, tenants are also protected by the Colorado Fair Housing Act. This act also prohibits landlords from rejecting prospective tenants based on their ancestry, creed, marital status or sexual orientation.

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Tenancy Agreement

If you are renting the property for one year or less, your tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be verbal or written. If you are renting for more than one year, your lease agreement must be in writing.

The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.

Joint Tenancy

If there are multiple tenants staying on the property under the same lease agreement, each individual tenant will be responsible for the actions of all other co-tenants.

For example the landlord can demand a tenant to pay the rent owed by a co-tenant who has moved out (without paying). [C.R.S. 38-11-101.(1)]

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Colorado landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name, address and phone number of landlord (or agent)
  • Name, address and phone number of person collecting rent
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Colorado landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the tenant give up his or her rights to the return of security deposit
  • limit the landlord's liability for acts of gross negligence
  • make the tenant pay rent for the remaining lease duration if he or she is called up for military service
  • make the tenant give up his or her rights to quiet enjoyment of the property
  • limit the landlord's responsibilities for maintaining the property in habitable condition [C.R.S. 38-12-503]
  • allow the landlord to remove the tenant and belongings without a formal eviction process [C.R.S. 13-40-101 to C.R.S. 13-40-123]
  • allow the landlord to terminate the rental agreement or impose penalties if the tenant calls for assistance because of domestic violence [C.R.S. 38-12-402.(1)]
  • allow the landlord to evict the tenant without providing a three day notice (as required by the Colorado Landlord Tenant Act) [C.R.S. 13-40-01 to C.R.S. 13-40-123]

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Security Deposit

Colorado landlord tenant law does not limit the maximum amount of security deposit that the landlord can ask (as long as the tenant is agreeable).

Deductions and Returns

Colorado landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
   
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Colorado landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties - See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within one month. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.
   
This deadline for the return of security deposit can be extended up to 60 days if it is stated in the rental agreement. [C.R.S. 38-12-103.(1)]

If the landlord doesn't give the tenant a written list of itemized deductions within the above deadline, he or she shall forfeit the rights to retain any security deposit. [C.R.S. 38-12-103.(2)]

If there are hazardous conditions (due to gas leaks or faulty gas equipment), the landlord has to make repairs within 72 *working hours. If the landlord fails to make repairs within 72 working hours, the tenant can choose to vacate the property and the landlord has to return the security deposit within 72 hours. *Working hours do not include Saturday, Sunday or public holidays. [C.R.S. 38-12-104]

If the landlord fails to follow Colorado landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover up to three times the amount of security deposit, plus court costs and attorney fees. [C.R.S. 38-13-103.(3)(a)]

If Property is Sold

Once the property ownership is transferred, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit or prepaid rent to the tenant (at the end of the tenancy). Therefore the new owner should make sure that the previous owner transfers all security deposits and prepaid rents along with the property.

The previous owner is no longer responsible for the tenancy once ALL three conditions are met:

  1. The previous owner makes a proper transfer of all security deposits and prepaid rents to the new owner
  2. The previous owner informs the tenant in writing that the property is being sold
  3. The new owner and tenant enters into a new agreement on the condition and contents of the property

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Denver, Colorado CO

Colorado Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

Colorado landlord tenant law requires the tenant to pay rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.
   
By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property.

Late Rent

There are no Colorado landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

If the tenancy is between one to six months AND there is no written rental agreement, the landlord has to inform the tenant 21 days in advance before he or she can increase the rent.  [C.R.S. 38-12-701]

While there are no other Colorado landlord tenant laws on raising rent...

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Colorado Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition [C.R.S. 38-12-505]:

  • Weather Protection: Waterproof and protect roof and exterior walls against the weather. Ensure doors and windows are not broken
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, lighting, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Heating and Water: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe (includes removing snow and ice)
  • Pest Control: Exterminate all pest and rodent infestation
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Security: Provide and maintain locks and keys
  • Compliance: Obey all building, health and housing codes (that affect the tenant's health and safety)

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Colorado landlord tenant law also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition [C.R.S. 38-12-504]:

  • Compliance: Obey all building, health and housing codes which affect health and safety
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Quiet Enjoyment: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors
  • Notification: Inform the landlord promptly if there is a condition that can cause the property to become uninhabitable
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails in his or her responsibilities, the tenant may do the following:
   
1. The tenant can move out (if it affects the tenant's health and safety) [C.R.S. 38-12-507.(a)]

The tenant must give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord five days to fix it... or else the tenant will move out within a period of 10 to 30 days. If the problem is fixed within five days (of the landlord receiving this notice), the tenancy will continue.

After the tenant vacates the property, the landlord will not be allowed to rent it out until repairs have been made.

2. The tenant can sue the landlord for damages [C.R.S. 38-12-507.(b)]

The tenant can sue the landlord for damages in court. If the landlord pays actual damages to the court with two business days, the landlord won't have to carry out the court orders (that are granted to the tenant).
   
3. The tenant can withhold rent from the landlord
   
The tenant may withhold rent from the landlord only if ALL three conditions are met:

  • The rental unit is no longer habitable
  • The condition of the rental unit endangers the tenant's life, health or safety
  • The landlord has been informed of the condition in writing but has failed to correct it

4. The tenant can make repairs and deduct the cost from rent

The tenant has to inform the landlord of the problem and give him or her five days to fix it. If the landlord fails to fix the problem after five days, the tenant can proceed to make repairs and submit the repair bills to the landlord. Once the bills are submitted, the tenant can deduct the repair bills from the monthly rent.

The tenant may deduct up to $400 in any one month or up to $1000 in any 12 month period.

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Property Access

There are no Colorado landlord tenant statutes on when and how the landlord can enter the property.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When does the landlord require the tenant's permission to enter the property?
    Examples: Making repairs, supplying essential services, inspecting for damages, showing property to prospective buyers or tenants
  • How long in advance should the landlord inform the tenant before entering the property?
  • When is the landlord allowed to enter the property without the tenant's permission?
    Examples: Handling emergencies (such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion), tenant has abandoned the property
  • What are the penalties if the tenant refuses the landlord's valid request to enter the property?
  • What are the penalties if the landlord enters the property without the tenant's permission or without a valid reason?

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Subletting

Colorado landlord tenant law allows the tenant to sublet unless the landlord prohibits it. If the landlord prohibits subletting, it must be stated in writing in the lease agreement.

We recommend that subtenants follow the same lease terms and conditions as the tenant. A subtenant cannot have greater or more rights than the tenant. The subtenant shall make payments to the tenant (NOT the landlord) and the tenant shall be responsible for the actions of the subtenant. The sublet period can be shorter than the main lease duration.

Assignment of Lease

An assignment transfers the lease agreement from the original tenant to a new tenant (assignee). The new tenant is directly responsible to the landlord under the same lease terms and conditions (including paying rent to the landlord).

An assignment of lease has to be approved by all three parties - Landlord, original tenant and new tenant. Once the the lease is assigned to the new tenant, the original tenant will be released from his or her rental obligations and benefits.

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Colorado Springs, Colorado CO

Colorado Springs, Colorado CO

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Colorado landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy.

For a month to month tenancy, you must give this notice at least 10 days before the termination date. This can be increased up to 30 days if the written rental agreement allows for it.

Whether you're the landlord or tenant, the minimum number of days for giving a notice to quit will depend on how long the tenant has been staying in the rental unit [C.R.S. 13-40-107]:

Tenant has stayed for less than 1 week

1 day

Tenant has stayed for 1 week or longer, but less than 1 month

3 days

Tenant has stayed for 1 month or longer, but less than 6 months

7 days

Tenant has stayed for 6 months or longer, but less than 1 year

28 days

Tenant has stayed for 1 year or longer

91 days

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Landlord failed to maintain property

5 days

Tenant is a victim of domestic abuse

Immediate

Tenant is a Victim of Domestic Abuse

If the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, he or she can terminate the tenancy early by giving the landlord the following [C.R.S. 38-12-402.(2)]:

  • Written notice stating that the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse
  • Police report (filed within the last 60 days) showing that the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse OR a valid protection order

After the tenant vacates the property, he or she will have to pay the landlord one additional month of rent within 90 days (of vacating). The landlord won't have to return the security deposit until this additional amount is paid.

Notice to Quit Contents

If you are the tenant, your notice must contain the following:

  • Address of rental property
  • Termination date and time
  • Signature of person giving the notice

If you're the landlord, your notice must ALSO contain the following:

  • Why the tenancy is being terminated
  • Any corrective action that tenant may take to avoid termination of tenancy and when it must be completed (if applicable)
  • Landlord may sue to remove tenant from the property if tenant doesn't move out by termination date

The landlord can serve an eviction notice to the tenant in three ways:

  1. Deliver the notice to the tenant in person
  2. Leave the notice with a suitable person at the tenant's home or work place
  3. Mail the notice to the tenant's home

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Eviction

If you are the landlord, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

3 days

Tenant violated the tenancy agreement

3 days

Tenant deliberately caused property damage

3 days

Tenant harassed, abused or assaulted another tenant or subtenant

3 days

Tenant was involved in illegal activities on property

3 days

Colorado landlord tenant law requires the landlord to go through the FED (Forcible Entry & Detainer) process whenever he or she wants to evict a tenant. This allows the landlord to obtain a court order that demands the tenant to vacate the property. [C.R.S. 13-40-101]

According to Colorado landlord tenant law, the landlord may evict the tenant from the property for any of the following reasons:

  • Tenant did not pay rent
  • Tenant violated tenancy agreement
  • Substantial Violation - Tenant took part in activities on or near the rental unit which endangers a person or the landlord's property (e.g. violent or drug-related crimes) [C.R.S. 13-40-107.5]
  • Tenant refused to vacate the property after the lease has ended and the landlord has informed the tenant that the lease won't be renewed

Before filing for eviction in court, the landlord must give the tenant a three day notice in writing. This three day notice gives the tenant three days to fix the violation(s) or vacate the property.

Unlawful Eviction

According to Colorado landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing. [C.R.S. 38-12-510]

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with (the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can sue the landlord for damages.
   
Colorado landlord tenant law disallows self eviction unless it's for the cleanup of a known illegal drug laboratory (as defined by the state board of health) OR both the landlord and tenant agrees to it.

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Abandonment

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

Colorado landlord tenant law considers personal belongings (of the tenant) to be abandoned if the both conditions below are met:

  1. The tenant has not contacted the landlord for at least 30 days.
  2. The landlord has good reason(s) to believe that the tenant has abandoned the belongings.

If the tenant abandoned the property and left his or her belongings behind, the landlord has to send a 15 day notice (by registered or certified mail) to the tenant's last known address. If the landlord is unable to contact the tenant after 15 days, the landlord may proceed to sell or dispose the tenant's belongings.

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Resources

Colorado Landlord Tenant Law: Colorado Revised Statutes - Article 12 Landlords and Tenants

Colorado Landlord Tenant Handbook: Landlord and Tenant Rights

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