A lack of awareness regarding Colorado's landlord-tenant laws can lead to a myriad of issues for both tenants and landlords. Misunderstandings may arise over entry rights, rent increases, security deposits, or lease agreements. Without the right knowledge, rental owners and their renters might find themselves facing court costs, legal disputes, financial losses, or unnecessary stress.
Thankfully, this comprehensive guide empowers both landlords or tenants with the knowledge needed to understand the complexities of the Colorado Statues Title 38 Article 12.
Landlords will quickly gain valuable insights into Colorado's ever-changing legal landscape to protect their investment, while tenants will learn the laws needed to protect their fundamental rights.
From rental application and tenant screening to eviction procedures, our guide covers key aspects of Colorado law.
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Colorado is considered a landlord-friendly state, as the landlord-tenant laws favor landlords over tenants. According to Azibo data, Colorado is in the top five states for on-time rent payments. Some of the other reasons why Colorado is considered landlord-friendly include:
Despite this, Colorado is gradually becoming a more tenant-friendly state, and many aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship are not governed by state law. For example, landlords must provide a habitable property that complies with both state and local laws, while tenants must pay rent on time and keep the rental unit clean and habitable.
Like in every state, Colorado rental property owners are granted fundamental rights that allow them to run an efficient rental business. Some of their key rights include:
Colorado landlords are also held to certain obligations to ensure a smooth tenancy and habitable living environment for their tenants. Some of those main responsibilities landlords have include:
Colorado tenants have a number of rights that help to ensure their safety and respect while living in a rental unit. Some of their most important rights include:
Colorado tenants also have key duties they must adhere to during the duration of their tenancy. Renters are primarily responsible for the following:
Landlords in Colorado have the right to screen prospective renters through an application process. But, landlords cannot charge prospective tenants an application fee unless the entire fee is used to cover costs of the processing of the rental application.
If any portion is unused, Colorado rental owners should make a good-faith effort to refund the tenant within 20 days.
Under Colorado state law, landlords are not prohibited from asking any particular questions, but they should be aware of Federal Fair Housing laws, and they are not prohibited from obtaining any particular screening reports.
When screening tenants, landlords can’t consider an arrest or conviction records for more then five years before the application date, except for convictions and deferred judgments for drug (certain), sex, homicide, and stalking offenses. (Rev. Stat. § 38-12-904(b)). Additionally, they cannot consider any rental or credit history beyond seven years preceding the application date.
Colorado state code requires any leases over a year or longer to be in writing, but both oral and written lease agreements are accepted for leases of less than a year.
While Colorado does not require landlords to include certain clauses in their lease agreement other than specific disclosures like lead-based paint and radon, the state does have provisions that are not allowed in leases. Some of them include:
Regarding raising rent during a tenancy, a landlord may increase the rent in a lease of one month or longer but less than six months without a written lease agreement, but only after giving the tenant at least 21 days' notice. Otherwise, in a written rental agreement, both the landlord and tenant must agree to any changes to the terms of the lease.
Find out more about what to include in your lease agreement.
There are no laws that limit how much a Colorado rental property owner can charge for a security deposit.
Other Colorado security deposit laws to note:
At the end of a tenancy, the security deposit must be returned within 60 days from the end of the tenancy with a written statement covering exact reasons for deductions and any remaining funds if applicable.
Colorado real estate investors have the right to withhold a portion or all of the tenant's security deposit if:
Colorado rental law make it so that landlords cannot withhold security deposits without valid reasons or in excess of the allowable deductions. This could result in a penalty against the landlord.
Colorado does not have any rent control laws so real estate investors in the state can charge what they deem to be a reasonable cost for their rental unit.
But, the law prohibits landlords from raising rent during the term of a lease unless the rental agreement specifies that they may do so. Additionally, Colorado rental owners can’t increase rent more than once in a 12-month period. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-702 (2022).)
As of October 1, 2021, Colorado adopted a grace period law. It states that Colorado landlords can’t charge late rent fees until rent is seven days late. Plus, late fees are capped at $50 or 5% of the amount of past due rent, whichever is greater. To charge a late fee, landlords must disclose it in the rental agreement.
Other important late fee clauses to note:
Tenants can withhold rent when the landlord fails to fix repairs and maintenance that breach the warrant of habitability, but renters can only use the "repair and deduct" remedy for specific reasons discussed below.
Under Colorado landlord-tenant law, landlords are legally required to keep the implied warranty of habitability, or keep the property in habitable condition for every tenant. This includes performing necessary repairs in a timely manner. Once properly notified by a renter, landlords have 24 to 96 hours (depending on the situation) to make repairs.
If the landlord fails to make repairs, the Colorado tenant is allowed to use the “repair and deduct” remedy under extremely certain conditions. They are as follows:
It’s important to note that renters cannot withhold rent for any reason in Colorado including repair and maintenance issues. Additionally, tenants are responsible for keeping the property safe and in good condition, which includes making minor repairs as needed.
Colorado rental laws do not cover notice of entry rules and regulations, meaning a landlord does not have to provide any notice to enter the rental. However, most landlords and renters come to a mutual agreement on notification clauses to avoid any issues.
Generally speaking, landlords should provide tenants with one to two days’ notice before entering the property unless it’s for an emergency.
There are several reasons a landlord may file for eviction in Colorado. The reasons and the required notices are as follows:
It's essential to note that "self-help" evictions – the act of forcibly removing renters or their possessions from a rental property – are strictly prohibited in Colorado. Unlawful actions to evict tenants could lead to legal repercussions.
Colorado also includes an early termination clause that allows Colorado tenants to terminate the lease early under certain conditions. Those conditions are:
In addition to rules governing general issues such as repairs and security deposits, Colorado also has specific rights and responsibilities for topics such as renter and housing discrimination laws, landlord retaliation, and more. Some of these topics are explored below.
Colorado landlords must adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Act and laws and cannot discriminate against tenants based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, marital status, or disability.
Colorado does have retaliation laws but they generally favor the landlord. In the state, landlords cannot retaliate against tenants for alleging that the landlord breached the warrant of habitability or having made a complaint alleging the breach of warrant of habitability.
If a former tenant decides they want to take legal action against their landlord for retaliatory behaviors, the tenant must be able to prove the landlord breached the warrant of habitability and retaliated against the renter for complaints against the landlord.
There are a handful of disclosures Colorado landlords must provide tenants in the lease agreement if applicable to their specific situation. The disclosures include:
To maintain a healthy and harmonious rental relationship, landlords and tenants need to understand Colorado state law like the back of their hands. While the laws may be daunting, complex, and without question, overwhelming, it’s important for both parties involved to educate themselves so as to avoid potential legal issues.
Colorado rental property owners can protect their investments and maintain strong relationships with their renters. Simultaneously, tenants are empowered and free to assert their rights, ensuring their living environment is healthy, habitable, and just like home.
In Colorado, landlords have the flexibility to raise rent by any amount they wish, as there is no legal cap on rent increases. However, there are regulations and guidelines that landlords must follow:
The maximum amount that a landlord or tenant can sue for in Colorado small claims court is $7,500. However, if the claim amount exceeds $7,500, the party can waive the balance over that amount and still proceed in small claims court.
As of 2023, Colorado rental property owners cannot charge more than $300 as an additional pet security deposit, and the fee must be refundable.
Additionally, they cannot charge tenants more than $35 or 1.5% of monthly rent as an additional pet fee.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.
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