August 2, 2023

Colorado Landlord Tenant Laws, Rights, & Duties [2023]

Discover landlord responsibilities and tenant rights in Colorado with this comprehensive guide covering the Centennial State’s landlord-tenant law.

Colorado Landlord Tenant Laws, Rights, & Duties [2023]

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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Is Colorado considered a landlord-friendly state?

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:

  • Landlords can decide how much notice they need to give before entering a rental property.
  • Landlords only have to give tenants three days' notice to pay overdue rent before they can begin the eviction process.
  • Colorado does not have statewide rent control, nor does it allow cities or counties to enact their own rent control laws.
  • Colorado law permits landlords to enter their property without notice.

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.

What are landlord rights in Colorado?

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:

  • The right to collect rent.
  • The right to deduct damages from the security deposit at the end of a tenancy if damage exceeds normal wear and tear.
  • The right to seek legal action against the tenant for breaching the terms of the lease agreement.
  • The right to enter the property for emergencies, repairs, inspections, and showings.

What are landlord responsibilities in Colorado?

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:

  • Providing a habitable property that meets basic health and safety requirements
  • Providing necessary repairs to the property in a timely manner depending on the specific situation
  • Disclosing certain information to tenants before they sign the lease agreement, such as utility information, bed bugs, and radon
  • Returning the security deposit to the tenant within 60 days of the lease termination

What are tenant rights in Colorado?

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:

  • The right to a safe and habitable living space.
  • The right to privacy and quiet enjoyment.
  • The right to dispute eviction notices.
  • The right to have their security deposit returned at the end of the tenancy

What are tenant responsibilities in Colorado?

Colorado tenants also have key duties they must adhere to during the duration of their tenancy. Renters are primarily responsible for the following:

  • Paying rent on time
  • Keep the property safe and in good condition
  • Make minor repairs and keep the property free of trash

Colorado landlord tenant laws through the rental cycle

Colorado rental application and tenant screening laws

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 lease agreement laws

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:

  • Requiring military tenants to pay rent for the remainder of a lease after being called to duty is unfair. (Federal Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. §534)).
  • Waiving tenant's rights to quiet enjoyment and warrant of habitability. (C.R.S. §38-12- 503)).
  • Landlords cannot forcibly remove tenants or their property without going through the eviction process. (C.R.S. §§13-40-101 thru 123)).
  • Requiring the renter to agree to eviction without a three-day notice for unpaid rent or any other reason. (C.R.S. §§13-40-01 thru 123)).

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.

Colorado security deposit laws

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:

  • Security deposit receipts are not required.
  • Landlords do not have to pay interest on security deposits.
  • Landlords do not have to store security deposits in a separate bank account.

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:

  • There are damages beyond normal wear and tear.
  • The tenant still owes rent or utilities.
  • Cleaning is required to return the property to the state it was in at the inception of the tenancy.
  • Any other reason that brings financial difficulty to the landlord outside of normal upkeep of the unit.

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 rent laws

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:

  • Start the eviction process just because the tenant doesn't pay one or more late fees.
  • Terminate a tenancy because the tenant doesn't pay one or more late fees.
  • Impose a late fee for the late payment of any portion of the rent that a rent subsidy provider (rather than the tenant) is responsible for paying.
  • Impose a late fee more than once for each late payment (except when the total fees don't exceed the limit).
  • Require a tenant to pay interest on a late fee.
  • Charge a late fee unless the landlord has provided the tenant with written notice of the late fee within 180 days after the rent payment due date.

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.

Colorado repair and maintenance laws

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:

  • Tenants are required to send two separate written notices and allow two waiting periods of up to four days each before making a repair themselves.
  • The problem must be a breach of Colorado’s implied warranty of habitability, which means the issue affects a tenant’s health or safety and makes the rental unit unlivable.
  • If a tenant or their guests caused the issue, repair and deduct isn't allowed.
  • In a case concerning a condition that merely involves a nonfunctioning appliance, if the landlord remedies the condition within 14 days after receiving the notice, the tenant cannot use the repair and deduct remedy.
  • Repair costs can't exceed one month's rent, and tenants can only use the repair and deduct remedy twice in 12 months.

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 notice of entry laws

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.

Colorado eviction laws

There are several reasons a landlord may file for eviction in Colorado. The reasons and the required notices are as follows:

  • Unpaid rent: When tenants fail to pay rent by the due date, landlords may serve a five-day notice to pay if the landlord has five or less rental properties. For all other tenancies, landlords must provide a 10-day notice to pay. If the tenant does not pay rent in the specified time frame, the rental owner may move forward with the eviction process and file a Forced Entry Detainer and Summons.
  • Lease violation: If a tenant violates the lease, the landlord may issue a five-day notice to fix the issue if the landlord has five or less rentals. For all other tenancies, landlords must provide a 10-day notice. If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord may file a lawsuit for unlawful detainer.
  • Illegal activity: If a landlord has evidence of criminal activity taking place in the rental unit, they may file a 3-day unconditional notice to quit. If the tenant does not leave, the landlord may file for formal eviction.
  • No lease/end of lease termination: Whether the end of the lease or if there’s no lease, landlords must provide advanced written notice before evicting the tenant. The amount of notice that is required is based on how long the tenant has lived in the property. For example, tenancies of one year or more require landlords to give a 91-day notice to quit.

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:

  • Active military service
  • Hazardous or uninhabitable rental unit
  • Domestic violence
  • Early termination clauses

Additional Colorado landlord-tenant laws

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 renter discrimination laws

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.

Required disclosures in Colorado

There are a handful of disclosures Colorado landlords must provide tenants in the lease agreement if applicable to their specific situation. The disclosures include:

  • Contact information: Landlords must provide their contact information to tenants, including their name and address. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 38-12-801(2) (2022)
  • Bed bugs: Landlords must disclose the history of bed bugs in the unit. If requested, landlords must also disclose the last date of inspection for bed begs. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 38-12-1005 (2022)
  • Lead paint disclosure: Landlords must disclose the presence of lead paint in or around the property if the property was built before 1978.
  • Rental application fee expenses: Landlords in Colorado who collect application fees must reveal the intended use of the fee or list the actual expenses incurred. Landlords must explain how they determined the average rental application fee if they charge a fee based on the average cost of processing rental applications. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 38-12-903 (2022)
  • Reason for denial of rental application: Landlords must give rejected applicants a written notice of the denial, with reasons, within 20 days. If using a proprietary screening system, provide a copy of the report instead. Electronic notices are allowed, but paper must be provided upon request. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 38-12-904 (2022)

Summing up Colorado’s rental laws

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.

Colorado landlord-tenant law FAQs

How much can a landlord raise rent in Colorado?

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:

  • Landlords can only increase rent once in a continuous 12-month period.
  • Landlords may increase rent in a lease of one month or longer but than less six months only after providing the tenant with at least a 21-day notice.
  • Landlords cannot raise rent during the term of a lease unless the lease agreement specifices that they may do so.

What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Colorado small claims court?

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.

Can Colorado landlords charge pet fees?

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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