Renting continues to be a more and more popular option for Coloradans and the relationship between tenants and landlords is becoming that much more important. Colorado landlord-tenant law is there to help frame these relationships and protect all parties involved.
Tenant-landlord law in Colorado aims to provide a variety of guidelines and protections, but there is a lot that goes into the arrangement. This includes drafting contracts, a variety of rights, and navigating the ins and outs of real life that can be difficult to simply put onto paper.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of factors that go into Colorado tenant-landlord laws and the relationships they work hard to help guide. Furthermore, there are some related questions that can help both parties understand their responsibilities a bit better.
Here at Freedom Insurance Group, we’re proud to be a resource for both tenants and landlords alike. Learn more about these laws and how to protect yourself whether you are renting out your property or renting from a landlord.
Freedom Insurance Group is proud to be a trusted resource built by a team of experts, but our field of expertise is within the realm of insurance, not law. Nothing here should be misconstrued as legal advice, but rather as a guide to assist on your rental journey. Before making any decisions, it’s always best practice to seek out a trusted, licensed attorney that can guide you through state and local statutes.
Colorado Landlord Tenant Law Requirements
Colorado landlord-tenant law has a variety of requirements that help both parties understand their responsibilities and are great guidelines for referencing when issues arise. While there are several landlord-tenant laws in Colorado, here are some of the core requirements when renting out your property:
- In Colorado, written leases are mandatory for rental agreements lasting longer than a month and must be signed at least one month prior to move-in or the rental period start.
- Tenants should carefully review lease clauses that may affect their rights before signing while also being made aware, clearly, of what the lease defines.
- Landlords have the discretion to increase monthly or weekly rent but must provide one week’s notice and cannot do so in retaliation.
- The lease typically specifies the responsibility for utilities, and failure to pay may result in penalties.
- When multiple tenants sign, each is individually accountable for adhering to tenant policies. If one tenant fails to pay rent, the others are fully liable, regardless of rent and damage division.
As a show of good faith, it’s also a recommended action that landlords provide tenants with a Colorado landlord-tenant handbook. Note that while a statewide handbook may not always be available, local handbooks are often provided by cities which provide a more relevant, local approach to tenants and landlords with respect to their responsibilities.
How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Colorado?
C.R.S. 38-12-301 (Title 38) is a landlord-tenant law in Colorado preventing rent control. As this is the case, there isn’t a limit on how much a landlord can raise rent. However, rent can’t be raised more than once per year (12-month continuous period).
Additionally, while landlord-tenant law in Colorado doesn’t prevent rent increases, there are other stipulations landlords must follow, including:
- Providing at least 60 days’ notice before a rent increase.
- Renters that do not pay their rent can still be evicted, however, if the rent due is paid before a judgment of eviction, the rent must be accepted and the renter cannot be evicted. All of the rent due must be paid and the case will be dismissed.
- If you are negotiating, including signing a new lease, you can’t be forced by a landlord or attorney to give up your rights if you are a tenant.
Colorado Landlord Tenant Law Repairs
Repairs are often a tricky area to navigate and the Centennial State has several timelines that landlords must adhere to in order to stay compliant with the law:
- Landlords that have been notified of a repair issue must do the following:
- Within 24 hours, repairs must be made if the life, health, or safety of the tenants are at risk.
- If that is not the case, landlords have 96 hours to fix issues mentioned by the warranty of habitability.
- A source of dampness causing mold must have a system to prevent the source of water causing the mold and an air filter installed within 96 hours of notification.
- If you are a tenant and wish to make a repair and have the cost reduced from your rent, you can if the issue isn’t remedied within the 24 to 96-hour timeframe. However, you must first do the following:
- Tenants are required to send two written notices to the landlord and must provide a four-day waiting period (four business days) each time before fixing the issue.
- The written notices sent by tenants can also be electronically sent but must include the date, landlord’s name, rental address, issue needing to be fixed, the date of the first notice, and a good faith estimate of what the repairs might cost. The estimate must be from a professional that is licensed or certified in the state of Colorado, trained for the task at hand, and not related to the tenant.
- Additionally, repair and deduct only applies to issues that violate Colorado’s warranty of habitability.
- It’s also worth noting that this is not allowed if a tenant or their pet caused the damage in question.
While this is usually in place for smaller repairs, it’s worth noting that there is no cap for tenants. Therefore, if it’s in good faith, the reduction of rent can be quite high should the neglected repair be a significant one that meets the criteria.
What a Landlord Cannot Do in Colorado
In truth, there are several things that landlords are not permitted to do in Colorado. This can even change from city to city as there are different local mandates that may dictate particular guidelines for both parties. However, here are some of the more common issues everyone will want to know about:
- Late fees aren’t allowed for subsidized rent or rent that has already been paid.
- Landlords cannot charge interest on late fees either.
- Evictions for unpaid late fees is prohibited, as is charging more than 5% or $50 of how much is owed in a particular month. This still applies if there are multiple months of rent unpaid.
You’ll notice several other examples of what a landlord cannot do in Colorado peppered throughout this article. The basic idea is that if a lease has terms and tenants are respected, everyone should be ok as long as they operate in good faith.
Can a Landlord Break a Lease in Colorado?
If a tenant is doing something that breaks the lease agreement, then yes, there are situations in which a landlord can break a lease in Colorado. However, Colorado landlord laws, in this case, C.R.S. 13-40-104, still lays out specific guidelines that would allow such procedures.
Some examples would be failing to pay rent, causing significant damage, repeatedly receiving complaints about parties or something along those lines. But in most cases, landlords must allow tenants to live in a property for the duration of the lease.
In the event, a landlord breaks the lease and commits an unlawful eviction, tenants can sue their landlord and potentially win damages. The Colorado Judicial Branch lays out a variety of resources online for anyone dealing with an unlawful eviction.
Can a Landlord Enter Without Permission in Colorado?
While this is a bit of a gray area when it comes to Colorado landlord-tenant law, you’ll likely want to avoid entering a property as the landlord without permission. There are exceptions, such as what is stipulated in the lease or during an emergency, but landlords must provide a space that is respectful of their tenant’s privacy.
The Colorado landlord notice to enter is typically spelled out in the lease agreement itself. This will provide clear-cut expectations of when a landlord may enter a property. Honest communication and honoring the lease agreement will go a long way for all parties.
Are Landlords Responsible for Pest Control in Colorado?
Yes, according to Colorado’s implied warranty of habitability, landlords are responsible for taking care of pests on their properties. There are several other responsibilities that fall under this guideline, but ultimately, landlords must maintain their properties to be habitable and not interfere with the health, safety, or life of their tenants.
Can a Landlord Charge for Carpet Cleaning in Colorado?
Whether or not a landlord is able to charge for carpet cleaning will depend on a number of factors and is situational. For example, in most cases, if a tenant is moving out and carpet cleaning is needed, the landlord won’t be able to charge the tenant extra to clean it.
However, if tenants were to purposefully destroy the carpet or if there was significant cleaning or replacement that would become necessary, there could be legal actions taken against the party responsible. Colorado landlord-tenant law for carpet replacement can be tricky and is a case-by-case situation.
But security deposits are still standard protections put in place by landlords. Through a security deposit, a landlord may charge a tenant for carpet cleaning in Colorado if the cleaning is not due to general wear and tear. Additionally, some leases may have cleaning fees spelled out upfront and are likely valid as conditions of the contract.
Can a Landlord Deny an Emotional Support Animal in Colorado?
No, Colorado landlord-tenant law prohibits discrimination by landlords against residents with emotional support animals (ESAs). This is specifically laid out by the Fair Housing Act as denying tenants with ESAs would be denying rental opportunities to those with disabilities.
Landlords cannot evict or deny housing to ESA owners, even if there is a no-pet policy. However, landlords retain the right to charge for damages caused by misbehaving or disruptive ESAs, or to remove them from the property altogether. Some exceptions may apply.
Can a Tenant Refuse Entry to Landlord in Colorado?
Yes, in keeping with Colorado law, landlord entering premises can be refused entry by tenants. However, there are several exceptions that provide a Colorado landlord right of entry to their property even while it’s being leased, such as an emergency, necessary maintenance, showing the property to other prospective renters, and even inspections are all allowed.
Furthermore, these exceptions aren’t the only ones, especially if stated as such in your lease. Overall, the basic theme here is respect. Landlords must respect a tenant’s ability to live peacefully in private, but when necessary, they cannot be denied entry.
If you are a tenant and you do prevent your landlord from entering the property, you could face serious financial and legal issues if you are not doing so from a place of reason. Should your landlord need to gain entry and cause damage in the process of doing so, they can bill you for the damages and possibly take legal action against you.
Colorado Landlord Tenant Law Late Fees
As mentioned above, there are some restrictions on landlords charging late fees to tenants. Failing to adhere to them can bring on fines as high as $1,050, legal issues, and having to pay damages for legal expenses incurred by tenants.
However, if you disclose late fees in your lease agreement and they do not go against Colorado law, late fees can be applied. Here are some common examples, as mentioned by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless:
- A landlord can charge a late fee if the tenant is seven calendar days or later on their rent.
- Late fees may be charged more than once, but the total cannot exceed the previously mentioned limit of $50 or 5% of the amount owed that month.
Do Landlords Have To Accept Section 8 in Colorado?
Yes, landlords in Colorado must accept Section 8, also known as Government Subsidized Housing, and cannot use a source of income to deny housing. This has been the case since 2020 and the enactment of HB20-1332.
The bill makes it illegal for landlords to refuse a lease because of income. Landlords also can’t use income requirements when advertising their rental properties. But it’s important to note that several exceptions do exist, such as:
- Landlords that have at most three units are not held to the restrictions of HB20-1332.
- If a landlord has at most five single-family rentals, they don’t have to accept vouchers from the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8).
It’s worth noting that landlords can still check the credit of tenants as part of their rental criteria. The key here is that landlords must check credit for everyone and cannot only check the credit of certain applicants to discriminate against.
How Long Does Landlord Have To Return Deposit in Colorado?
Landlord-tenant law in Colorado outlines a maximum of 30 days for the return of a security deposit. Some leases may state up to 60 days, which is also allowable, but must be stated outright.
Within this time frame either the full deposit must be returned or the tenant must receive a portion of the deposit along with an itemized list of the damages and repairs showcasing how the money was used. Landlords that fail to do so open themselves up to potential litigation from tenants.
How to File a Complaint Against a Landlord in Colorado
The Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) is available if you are being discriminated against by your landlord or facing retaliation for exercising your rights as a tenant. CCRD enforces the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), which bars discrimination in employment, housing, and public places based on protected classes. The government entity investigates complaints, mediates, and educates to uphold the CADA.
Landlord retaliation in Colorado is illegal when a tenant is acting in good faith. Here are some of the prohibited actions a landlord cannot do:
- Increase your rent.
- Decrease the services you are entitled to.
- Terminating your lease or contract without written consent from the tenant. Remember, some exceptions allowable by law may apply.
- Landlords can’t threaten or actively bring forth an action for possession. This includes intimidation and discrimination against tenants.
Furthermore, for reporting you can call the landlord-tenant hotline Colorado Housing Connects at 1-844-926-6632. Landlord harassment in Colorado should never be exhibited by property owners or accepted by renters.
Colorado Property Code Implied Warranty of Habitability
Landlords must ensure their properties have well-maintained waterproofing, plumbing, heating, electrical lighting, common areas, extermination when needed, trash receptacles, floors, and locks, and comply with relevant codes. Also, properties must not significantly harm tenant’s life, health, or safety. Failure to meet these requirements renders the property uninhabitable under the Colorado landlord-tenant law.
Colorado Landlord Tenant Law and Insurance
Landlords have a range of responsibilities when it comes to safeguarding their interests while renting out their property. It is crucial to ensure that everything is in order and carried out correctly to avoid potential headaches, legal complications, and financial setbacks. It’s important to thoroughly document and obtain written records for all matters.
Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and collaborate with individuals who can assist you in managing your real estate investments. For instance, if you are unable to personally attend to the property, consider having a trustworthy property manager, or if accounting is not your forte, consult with a certified public accountant (CPA) for tax purposes.
Remember tenants’ rights and clearly outline lease terms and penalties for contract violations. Comply with Colorado landlord-tenant laws to avoid legal issues. Conduct thorough due diligence before entering lease agreements and obtain suitable insurance coverages to avoid costly losses that may arise:
- Landlord insurance protects the rental property and falls on the responsibility of the property owner.
- Umbrella coverage is available for renters and landlords alike who may otherwise be exposed to larger liability claims in the event of an injury while on the property from visitors.
- Flood insurance is important for landlords looking to protect their rental property, but also for renters looking to protect their possessions. A renter’s insurance policy is great, but in the event of a flood, you’ll need a separate policy to restore your loss.
You can receive a free, accurate landlord coverage quote in Colorado online, or call us for a quote, even if you’re a renter, we can help you find rental coverage that suits your needs!