Colorado Landlord-Tenant Laws

Written by on December 19, 2012

Flag of ColoradoThis article summarizes some key Colorado Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules and Regulations


Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No Statute
  • Security Deposit Interest: No Statute
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No Statute
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No Statute
  • Non-Refundable Security Deposit Allowed: No, landlord must return the “full” deposit (C.R.S. 38-12-103(1))
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: One Month, unless previously agreed to other deadline but never more than 60 days. (C.R.S. 38-12-103) If hazardous conditions force tenant to vacate, Landlord must return the deposit within 72 hours (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays) (C.R.S. 38-12-104).
  • Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: No Statute
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
  • Late Fees: No Statute
  • Prepaid Rent: No Statute
  • Returned Check Fees: No Statute
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Inhabitability: Yes, with restrictions (C.R.S. 38-12-507)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No Statute
  • Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes, if the lease allows it. (C.R.S. 38-12-507-2)
  • Restrictions on Handling Abandoned Property: Yes (C.R.S. 38-20-116)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: No, Under the “benefit of the bargain” rule, an innocent landlord is entitled to recover only the amount of damages required to place it in the same position it would have occupied had the tenant performed according to the terms of the lease. Schneiker v. Gordon, 732 P.2d 603 (Colo. 1987).

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate a Lease with a Fixed End Date: No notice is needed as the lease simply expires. (C.R.S. 13-40-107-4)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease: 91 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107-1a)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – 6 Months or Longer, but Less than 1 Year: 28 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107-1b)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – 1 Month or Longer, but Less than 6 Months: 7 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107-1c)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – 1 Week or Longer, but Less than 1 Month: 3 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107-1d)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Less than 1 Week: 1 day: (C.R.S. 13-40-107-1e)
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment after Notice of Nonpayment is Served: 3 days (C.R.S. 13-40-104-1d)
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: 3 days to remedy or quit (C.R.S. 13-40-104). Repeat violations are grounds for immediate lease termination. (C.R.S. 13-40-104-e.5)
  • Required Notice before Entry: No Statute
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): No Statute
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No Statute, but reasonable entry during an emergency is always allowed.
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No, and tenant can sue for damages (C.R.S. 38-12-510)
  • Self-Help Evictions Allowed: No, unless promulgated by the state board of health for the cleanup of an illegal drug laboratory or is with the mutual consent of Landlord and Tenant. (C.R.S. 38-12-510)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No, and tenant can sue for damages (C.R.S. 38-12-510)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA): No
  • Landlord is not required to look for or rent to a new tenant while previous tenant still has an active lease.
  • Domestic Violence:
    • Tenant may terminate a lease early in special circumstances involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence but Tenant may be responsible for 1 extra month’s rent. (C.R.S. 38-12-402-2)
    • Landlord cannot terminate the lease of a victim of domestic violence. (C.R.S. 13-40-107.5-c)
    • Landlord may require proof of domestic violence status. (C.R.S. 38-12-402-2)
    • A landlord shall not include in a residential rental agreement or lease agreement for housing a provision authorizing the landlord to terminate the agreement or to impose a penalty on a residential tenant for calls made by the residential tenant for peace officer assistance or other emergency assistance in response to a domestic violence or domestic abuse situation. (C.R.S. 38-12-402-1)
  • Retaliation:  A landlord shall not discriminatorily increase rent or decrease services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession in response to the tenant having made a good faith complaint to the landlord or to a governmental agency alleging a breach of the warranty of habitability. (C.R.S. 38-12-509)

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
Your Rental

433 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • kristen

    Hi I am on a 6 month lease and my landlord gave me a 30 day notice that she does not want to rent to us any longer for reasons she won’t explain. I’ve never been late on rent. My question is I paid my rent for the month of August and she is telling me she wants keys to property on the 31st which doesn’t make sense to me if the 31st is still part of the month that I paid for. Can she do that?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kristin,

      If you have a fixed-term lease (a lease with a specified end date), then your landlord can’t terminate it early without just cause – such as not paying rent or a lease violation.

      If your 6-month lease is naturally ending on Aug 31st, then your landlord can choose to not renew it – which would mean that you would have to move out and turn in keys.

      If Aug 31st is really the last day of your lease, then you should review your lease to see if there is a “check-out time”. If not, then you are entitled to access the unit for the full day of Aug 31st. However, if you have access (or keys) to the unit for even 1 minute of the month of September, then they landlord can consider that a holdover, which has further legal consequences. My advice would be to turn in the keys in the early afternoon, so there is no risk of an unintentional holdover.

      If your landlord is trying to terminate your fixed-term lease early, without accusing you of some sort of violation, then you should seek legal help right away. A landlord is not allowed to do that.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord trying to help.

  • Yvonne

    What happens if at the end of the lease the tenant has not moved out and the new tenants want to move in immediately at the start of their lease?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Yvonne,

      That’s called a Holdover, and the former tenants can be held responsible for any damages and consequences that they cause. If the new tenants have to pay for a hotel, then you can charge that to former tenants.

      Your 2 priorities should be:
      1. Get the old tenants out of the house as fast as you can
      2. Try to keep the new tenants from terminating the lease (which they are allowed to do if you don’t deliver the property). Ask if they are able to move in a little later, or put them up in a hotel for a few nights.

      If the old tenants refuse to leave, then you have to file an eviction action against them with your local county court. You can sue them for the loss of rent, and the loss of your new tenants, assuming you suffered financial damages.

      At the end of the day, if your old tenants refuse to move out, and the holdover seems like it’s going to last more than a day or two, then you should talk a local attorney about how best to proceed in your county. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord trying to help.

  • Tony

    I have a question. As a property owner in Colorado do I need a specific reason to terminate a lease on a rental? What is the requirement on time to vacate? Thanks in advance.


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tony,

      If you are trying to terminate the lease early (before it naturally expires), you have to have just cause – which is usually non-payment, a lease violation that they refuse to remedy, or illegal drug or criminal activity. Even then, you have to give proper notice.

      If you are terminating the lease at the time that it naturally expires (or simply choosing to not renew), you don’t need a reason.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord trying to help.

  • barb

    I applied for an apartment and was approved I paid my $850 deposit but was gold that $250 was an “administrative fee” now the apartment that was advertised as $850 is now more to include a “rental fee.” None of these fees were advertised in the listing. Any suggestions?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Barb,

      Yes, that seems like false advertising.

      Further, you should read C.R.S. 38-12-103, which states that the “full” deposit must be refundable. Meaning, the landlord can’t include any non-refundable fees in the deposit amount.

      I think you need to decide if you still want to live there, even if they try to keep your full $850. If he answer is no, and assuming you haven’t signed a lease yet, then you should march into the leasing office and demand your money back. Don’t leave until you’ve worked something out. If they give you a hard time, tell them that you have a copy of the ad, and that none of the fees were disclosed. You thought you were paying a deposit, but they’ve changed their story. You could threaten to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and share your review on various sites.

      If that doesn’t work, you might have to take them to small claims court. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, which is who you should address if you have further issues.

  • Laura Callaway

    I just gave my landlord a 30 day notice to move. They want to come and inspect the property in a few days. The carpet hasn’t been replaced in 6 years, can they hold me responsible for replacing it? Also, their son was the acting manager and is now in jail and never repaired some things I’ve requested, how do I handle that situation? We’ve been leaving there for 6 years without heat and air because of him not fixing the problem, as well as the shower knob wan’t repaired because he stated he couldn’t find the part. If, I’m held responsible for any damages, will I be able to make a monthly payment to the landlords or can they garnish my wages? The plumbing inside the wall needs repairing and he didn’t even fix that. He was well aware of these issues and kept saying we wouldn’t let him in to repair anything. Couldn’t he have given us a 24 hour notice. Do I have any defense here?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Laura,

      I’m happy to give my opinion, but please know that I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

      1. In regards to the carpet, you are only responsible for returning to the condition it was when you first moved-in – minus normal wear and tear. Anything beyond that will shorten the life of the carpet. If the landlord has to replace the carpet, and you damaged it beyond normal wear and tear, you are only responsible for the years that you robbed from the life of the carpet. For example, if the carpet was new when you moved in, and has a life expectancy of 5 years, and you damaged it beyond repair at year 3, you would have robbed the landlord of 2 years of carpet life. This means that you would be responsible for paying for 2/5ths of a similar new carpet. Make sense?

      2. Generally speaking, you’re only held responsible for anything that is beyond normal wear and tear. You wouldn’t be responsible for the defunct HVAC or shower handle if they broke under normal usage.

      3. If you disagree with any of the charges or deductions from your deposit, you can take the landlord to small claims court to refute the charge or get your money back. A landlord can’t garnish wages until he/she wins a judgement in court.

      4. As for repairs that never happened, it seems like its a little too late to bring them up. Yes, you could use the repairs to try and get sympathy from your landlord, but if they were so drastic, why didn’t you contact the landlord earlier, when the son was not performing his duties? If the son was lying, why didn’t you defend yourself earlier?

      I hope that helps. If I missed anything, just ask again.

  • Cheryl

    My Mom has a home in Jefferson county. She has rented to the same couple for 11 years. They had a lease that reverted to a month to month tenancy about 7 years ago. They were good tenants up until a year ago. Main issue is late rent due on 1st of the month. Last month their check got “lost in fhe mail”, and she received a replacement check on the 28th. This month she began on the 10th trying to reach them by phone, email, etc. To no evail. She then had a 3 day notice posted on the door to
    begin eviction. She had the notice posted on the 26th, but due to weekend/holliday it expires in 5 more days. She received a check yesterday, but there is no date on the check. At this point, she just wants them out. She is 81, and lives in California. She also has health issues that prevents her from traveling there. When you say a 7 day notice needs to be given for month to month tenancy, can she send that now? And when would the have to be out? We feel like they are trying to play the system, and she will have to evict. What is the best way to get them out? The stress is is overwhelming her. We thank you for any thoughts you may have.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cheryl,

      I’m really sorry to hear about the situation your mom is in, and that it seems like tenants are taking advantage of her.

      The first step is to give notice that if they don’t pay rent, your mother will terminate the lease for non-payment. According to C.R.S. 13-40-107-1c, the landlord needs to give 7 days notice before the lease can be terminated for a month-to-month lease. Then, if the tenant’s do pay within that 7 day period, the lease is officially terminated, and your mom can file an eviction lawsuit IF the tenants refuse to vacate the property.

      It’s SOOOOOO important that you mom does not accept any form of payment after the lease is terminated if she wishes to continue with the eviction action. By accepting payment, she is continuing to allow them to live there month-to-month. The courts will not evict someone who sill has an active lease.

      Eventually, all parties will go to court and then your mom will win. Then the sheriff will come to remove the tenants and their belongings.

      I wrote a helpful guide, which you should read:

      Please know that I am not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this as legal advice. If your mom wants to through the eviction process, it would be wise to talk to a local attorney.

      The only other thought I had was that your mom should start collecting rent online. Landlords who use online rent collection don’t have these issues. Tenants wouldn’t be able to give her the run-around and excuses (lies). My favorite system for landlords is Cozy:

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi again,

      It’s worth mentioning that your mom could also try to strike a deal with the tenants. A few ideas are:
      1. Forgive their debt if the move out in 7 days and leave the property in great condition
      2. Give them “cash for keys”. Meaning, say “We’ll give you $300 if you’ll move out in 7 days and clean the house”

      Now, both of these options are expensive, but they might be less expensive than waiting 4 weeks for an eviction case, and then still never seeing another dime from them.

  • Lulu

    Good morning, Lucas!

    I recently moved to Routt county at the first of August. I’m staying in a temp condo until the “permanent” apartment becomes available September 30th. The only concern I have is that the current tenant hasn’t signed a notice to vacate; however she did tell the landlord several times that she’s moving out. She first notified the landlord in July of her plans. My question is this: If the current tenant decides against moving out at the last minute, can the landlord enforce her leaving? I’m just concerned something might happen at the last minute and I will lose the apartment.

    Thank you!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lulu,

      Do you have a signed lease with the landlord? If so, then you have a ratified contract, and it’s up to the landlord to worry about the current tenant and deliver the apartment to you on time.

      If the landlord fails to do so, you can terminate the lease, and sue him/her for any damages that it caused you in small claims court.

      It is possible the current tenant will refuse to leave, but you’ll just have to cross that bridge when you get there. Even if the landlord is trying his/her hardest to get the tenant to leave, a landlord can’t force them to vacate. Only the courts can do that.

      If you don’t have a signed lease with the landlord, then he/she doesn’t actually have any sort of commitment to you, and could change his/her mind at any moment. If the landlord is hesitant to sign a lease with you, I suggest that you start looking for a new apartment immediately.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord trying to help.

  • Mikki Mills

    I have a friend who is looking to rent a place and the landlord told her he could not rent to her because she is a single parent the the pre teen child has to have his own room, she was planning on him having the bedroom and her using a futon in the living room. Is there really a law in colorado that would keep her from doing this ?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mikki,

      These kind of zoning and occupancy laws are typically decided at the county level. You’d have to call your local county office to inquire further.

      With that said, 2 people are allowed to occupy a 1 bedroom unit in every city I’ve ever been too. Heck, if the law limited only 1 person to a 1 bedroom unit, how could you ever have more than 1 person in a hotel room?

      Whenever I hear of landlording citing “the law says…” I always tell the renter’s to challenge the landlord. Make them “prove it”. The landlord is usually not able to prove anything because he/she just made up the rule.

      Further, it seems like that landlord might be discriminating on familial status, which is a violation of the fair housing act. He could get in trouble for housing discrimination if your friend took him/her to court.

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