Colorado Landlord Tenant Laws, Rights, & Duties 
Navigating the complexities of Colorado's landlord-tenant laws can be daunting, with potential pitfalls at every turn for both parties. From issues related to property access and rent adjustments to handling security deposits and understanding the nuances of lease agreements, a lack of familiarity with these regulations can lead to costly legal battles, financial setbacks, and undue stress for landlords and tenants alike.
This guide is designed to illuminate the intricacies of Colorado Statutes Title 38 Article 12, providing essential insights for landlords to safeguard their investments and for tenants to protect their rights.
Covering everything from the rental application process and tenant screening to eviction protocols, this article is your starting point toward mastering Colorado's rental regulations.
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 must give before entering a rental property.
- Landlords only have to give tenants three days' notice to pay overdue rent before they can begin eviction.
- Colorado does not have statewide rent control nor 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 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 their tenants' smooth tenancy and habitable living environment. Some of the 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 several rights that help 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
In Colorado, landlords can screen applicants but must use application fees solely for processing costs, refunding any excess within 20 days. While they're free to ask various questions, adherence to Federal Fair Housing laws is mandatory, ensuring no discrimination occurs. Screening cannot include arrest or conviction records older than five years, with exceptions for certain serious offenses, nor can it consider rental or credit history beyond seven years.
The recent HB 23-1099 law, effective August 6, 2023, further regulates application fees. Landlords cannot charge these fees if a tenant provides a portable tenant screening report valid for multiple applications within 30 days. This report, encompassing rental, credit, and criminal history, aims to make housing more accessible and reduce the financial burden on applicants. Landlords are required to accept these reports as valid screening, promoting fairness and efficiency in the rental process.
Colorado lease agreement laws
In Colorado, lease agreements that extend beyond a year must be documented in writing, though both oral and written lease agreements are valid for tenancies shorter than a year. Besides mandatory disclosures such as the presence of lead-based paint and radon risks, Colorado law sets clear boundaries on what cannot be included in lease agreements to ensure fairness and protect tenants' rights:
- Military protection: It's deemed unfair to require military tenants to continue paying rent after being called to active duty, in line with the Federal Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. §534).
- Rights to quiet enjoyment and habitability: Lease agreements cannot waive a tenant's rights to quiet enjoyment and a habitable living environment (C.R.S. §38-12-503).
- Eviction process: Landlords must follow the formal eviction process and cannot forcibly remove tenants or their belongings without legal proceedings (C.R.S. §§13-40-101 thru 123).
- Eviction notice: Tenants are entitled to a three-day notice before eviction proceedings for unpaid rent or other breaches can begin (C.R.S. §§13-40-01 thru 123).
- Rent increase notification: For leases of one month or longer but less than six months, landlords can raise rent only with at least 21 days' notice and not during the lease term unless stipulated in the lease agreement.
The recent HB 23-1095 further enhances tenant protections by prohibiting:
- One-way fee-shifting: Lease clauses that only allow landlords to recover legal fees are banned.
- Jury trial waivers for possession hearings: Tenants cannot be forced to waive their right to a jury trial in eviction cases.
- Class action preclusions: Agreements cannot prevent tenants from participating in class action lawsuits against landlords.
- Waiving fundamental rights: Prohibitions against clauses that waive essential tenant rights, like the covenant of good faith, quiet enjoyment, and others. It also forbids penalties for non-renewal beyond actual losses, misrepresenting rent, marking up third-party services, or allowing eviction for utility non-payment.
These regulations are designed to promote a fair, transparent, and equitable housing market in Colorado, protecting landlords and tenants by clarifying their rights and responsibilities.
Find out more about what to include in your lease agreement.
Colorado security deposit laws
No laws 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 the 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 makes 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
In Colorado, where rent control is absent, landlords can set rental prices. Despite this freedom, the law restricts rent increases to once per 12-month period and prohibits raising rent during a lease term unless the written rental agreement itself specifically allows it (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-702 (2022)).
From October 1, 2021, a grace period law for late rent payments has been in effect. It prevents landlords from charging late fees until rent is seven days overdue, with fees capped at the lesser of $50 or 5% of the overdue rent. The rental agreement must detail the late rent fees and fee policies.
Key late fee regulations include prohibitions against:
- Evicting solely for non-payment of late fees.
- Terminating tenancy due to unpaid late fees.
- Charging late fees on rent are covered by subsidy providers.
- Imposing multiple late fees on a single late payment beyond the cap.
- Charging interest on late fees.
- Applying late fees without providing written notice within 180 days post rent due date.
Tenants are permitted to withhold their rent payment if the landlord does not make essential repairs affecting habitability, with "repair and deduct" being a viable option under specific circumstances.
A notable addition to Colorado's rent laws is HB 23-1120, which introduces a pre-suit mediation requirement for landlords before proceeding with eviction against tenants receiving certain types of financial assistance.
This legislation is designed to reduce evictions by promoting resolution through mediation, marking a significant shift towards dispute resolution outside of court settings. The aim is to provide a fairer, more collaborative approach to eviction proceedings, especially for financially vulnerable tenants.
These laws collectively ensure a balanced approach to rental practices, safeguarding landlord and tenant interests while fostering a fair housing environment in Colorado.
Colorado repair and maintenance laws
In Colorado, landlords must maintain the implied warranty of habitability, ensuring rental properties are livable. This duty includes conducting necessary repairs within 24 to 96 hours after being notified by a tenant, depending on the issue's urgency.
The "repair and deduct" remedy is available to tenants under specific conditions, such as:
- Providing two written notices with up to four days' waiting period each before tenant-initiated repairs.
- The issue must violate the implied warranty of habitability, affecting health, safety, or livability.
- The remedy is not applicable if the damage is caused by the tenant or their guests.
- For non-urgent issues like appliance malfunctions, landlords have 14 days to address the problem.
- Repair costs cannot exceed one month's rent, and tenants are limited to using this remedy twice within a 12-month period.
Tenants cannot withhold rent for unresolved maintenance issues but are responsible for minor repairs and maintaining the property's condition.
Pets in Leased Spaces (HB 23-1068): A significant update to these laws is the inclusion of provisions for pets during eviction processes. Landlords and officers executing a writ of restitution must now ensure the safety of pets by:
- Inspecting for pets and, if found, returning them to the tenant or contacting local animal control.
- Informing tenants where their pets have been taken, if not returned directly.
- Financially, additional pet deposits cannot exceed $300, and monthly pet fees are capped to prevent undue burden on tenants with pets.
HB 23-1068 emphasizes the importance of pet welfare in rental agreements and during evictions, ensuring pets are safely considered in the broader context of maintaining habitable living conditions.
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 mutually agree on notification clauses to avoid any issues.
Generally speaking, landlords should give tenants 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 fewer 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 proceed 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 fewer 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. The landlord may file for formal eviction if the tenant does not leave.
- No lease/end of lease termination: Whether at the end of the lease or if there’s no lease, landlords must provide advanced written notice before evicting the tenant. The required notice amount 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 harassment and 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 the warrant of habitability.
Suppose a former tenant decides they want to take legal action against their landlord for retaliatory behaviors. In that case, 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 disclose the last inspection date 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.
- Radon Disclosures (SB 23-206): This law mandates landlords to disclose to tenants whether radon testing has been conducted on the property and the results of such testing, underscoring the importance of tenant awareness regarding potential radon exposure.
- Rental application fee expenses: Landlords in Colorado who collect application fees must reveal the fee's intended use or list the expenses incurred. Landlords must explain how they determined the average rental application fee if they charge it 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
whether you're a landlord looking to navigate Colorado's rental market landscape or a tenant aiming to safeguard your rights, understanding the state's landlord-tenant laws is crucial. By familiarizing yourself with these regulations' detailed aspects, including rights and responsibilities, you can prevent unnecessary legal disputes and ensure a harmonious rental experience.
This guide is a valuable resource, offering a comprehensive overview of the critical laws governing rental interactions in Colorado. With this knowledge, landlords and tenants alike can confidently approach their rental agreements, equipped to handle any challenges that may arise in this landlord-friendly state.
Remember, staying informed is key to protecting your interests and maintaining a positive rental relationship.
Colorado landlord-tenant law FAQs
How much can a landlord raise rent in Colorado?
In Colorado, landlords can raise rent by any reasonable 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 less than six months only after providing the tenant with at least a 21-day notice.
- Landlords cannot raise rent during a lease term unless the lease agreement specifies that they may do so.
What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Colorado small claims court?
The maximum amount 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 and 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.
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