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

Details

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 Issues of Habitability: 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.
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556 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Kelly

    Lucas,

    I have a lease until the end of February. I have windows that are broken and don’t lock, and I informed my landlord of this in September. The issue is still not fixed and I know that there is mold growing. I believe that I am able to break my lease due to the Warranty of Habitability and according to the law if I am living in an uninhabitable space I am able to breach my contract. Any fine details that I am missing?

    Kelly

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kelly,

      In cases where a property is not habitable, I believe the tenant can send a 3 days notice to remedy or quit (C.R.S. 13-40-104). Meaning, the tenant has to give the landlord an documented chance to fix the issue.

      However, the issue can’t be arguable. If there is some mold in the window sill, and a little bleach on a rag would clean it up, it’s hard to call that an issue of habitability. If there is obvious mold coming from inside the wall, then that’s a different story.

      A landlord does have a responsibility to ensure that the windows are secure, but as long as they aren’t fire exits, the landlord could simply nail them shut, and it would “fix” the problem – albeit it’s not the best solution.

      My point is that before you go announcing that your unit is “uninhabitable”, be sure that the majority of people in this world would agree with you, and that it’s not something you could easily fix. Judges usually see right through someone who is claiming that a unit is uninhabitable, but also conveniently got a job in another city at the same time – not that you’re doing that. I’m just saying.

      It you are serious about breaking your lease, I highly suggest you get legal advice from a lawyer before proceeding. I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this as legal advice.

  • Barb Forrest

    You can walk out if you have a gas leak otherwise you must give the landlord written notice of the condition and a “reasonable” time to repair. You may not withhold the rent or he can begin eviction proceedings. If he doesn’t make the repairs, you may take him to court. However, if you or someone you invited in caused the damage to the windows which then resulted in the mold, the warranty of habitability does not apply. See section 38-12-505 of the Colorado revised statutes -available free through LexisNexis. Functioning windows are for sure covered by this as well as any condition that is materially dangerous or hazardous to your life, health or safety. He may also move you to another comparable unit and pay reasonable costs to do so.

  • Barb Forrest

    They can’t nail the windows shut. Working doors and windows is part of the statute.

  • Jan B.

    I am entering a lease just now, and the property has not yet been possessed. However, the rental agents did not tell us that the garage door did not have two working garage door openers until after the original possesion date.

    This issue, while it does not affect ‘habitability,’ is a material fact that was not disclosed by the owners or property management company.

    Is there a standard for ‘reasonable expectations’ for a garage? How many 2-car garages in the Denver Metro area do not have working garage door openers?

    I hope that I have a leg to stand on.

    JB

  • Barb Forrest

    I don’t think that’s required but the good news is, you can pick one up yourself. Just look on the motor and get the make and model number, some are remotes can be used with different makes.

    I do recommend making a list of everything lacking or broken at the property and sending your landlord a copy. That will give you some protection if later he claims he gave you two. Photos would be good too.

    • Jan B.

      By the way, the property management company\property owners did decide to replace the garage door opener. The old one was the original installed when the house was built in the 1978-1982 time frame.

      The new unit works well and has two nice door openers. I’m happy. Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

      may all other issues be solved to such satisfaction,

      JB

  • Jan B.

    It’s not that easy . . the property managers (PMs) had the current garage door opener evaluated.

    It is so old that the ‘new’ remotes need to be custom-calibrated to the proper radio frequency to work. The expense is somewhere close to the cost the range of purchasing a new door opener unit, which usually come with two openers. ‘They’ are ‘considering their options.

    tks for the suggestion,

    JB

  • Thomas

    Lucas,

    I’m renting out a room in my home on a month to month basis. A lease was never signed. How much notice is needed when I ask the tenant to leave, and what can I do if he doesn’t comply?

    Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Thomas,

      Check the “notices” section in the article above.

      If the tenant doesn’t vacate by the time lease ends, then you have to file an eviction lawsuit with your local courthouse. Then the sheriff will come to remove the tenant by force. You are not allowed to lock the tenant out.

  • Corey

    I’ve a few questions. If a water main is turned off due to a water main leak, wouldn’t the water in the whole neighborhood be out? Not just one house? NO WATER ALL DAY!!! Where do I go to the bathroom? Wash dishes? Brush my teeth? The leasing company claims that a water main is shut off due to a leak but will have a plumber out in the morning… pretty sure that a water main doesn’t service just one house.
    Also, if a house can’t handle running a 900 W microwave without tripping the breakers, would that be a fire hazard? I just microwaved a Boston Mkt dinner… I had to go out and reset the breaker FOUR times, plus, had to turn off the lights and unplug the refrigerator!!!
    Not to mention that there are no smoke detectors and no carbon monoxide detectors in the house… even though the lease states that both WILL be provided.
    Oh and, out of the 6 windows in this apartment, ONE opens. Fire hazard?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Corey,

      It’s nice to meet you.

      The “water main” usually refers to the main pipe that searches each house. Each house has a water main that can be shut off.

      Re: the microwave, I’m sure the house can handle it, but perhaps not on the current circuit that it’s plugged into. I have no idea if it could be a fire hazard. Usually the breakers do a good job of preventing an overloaded system. Try moving the microwave to another outlet, or reducing simultaneous usage of other heavy usage appliances when running the microwave.

      The landlord should provide and install smoke and CO detectors. No ifs ands or buts about it.

      Windows: I don’t know if it’s fire hazard as long as you have 2 forms of egress, but non-functioning windows can effect habitability.

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

  • Diane

    My daugher has a condo that she rents out a room. The tenant is required to sign a month-to-month lease with a 30 written notice to vacate. The lease includes an attachment, the listing to advertise the available room. In this ad it states NO smoking. tenant must be clean – just to name a few of the lease requirements.
    He’s only been there since October 16. And it has already gone bad.
    He was smoking pot in the bathroom the first day he moved in. Towel at the bottom of the door with the fan running.
    He does not clean up after himself when he uses the kitchen. Dirty dishes are left on the counter, in the sink, in the livingroom. Food is on the floor. Grease all over the stove.
    Are these issues enough for an eviction?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Diane,

      In addition to Barb’s advice (below), you could terminate the lease based on the lease violations (assuming the lease actually says “no smoking”). Just because it’s in the ad doesn’t mean they are contractually bound to it.

      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).

      I’m not a lawyer, so please research these statutes yourself, or talk to an attorney.

  • Barb Forrest

    Your daughter should give the tenant notice that she is not renewing the month-to-month lease. For a month-to-month term in Colorado a Landlord should give 10 days notice. Since there are not ten days left in October, he would have to move December 1st. She write it up now and post it on his door and also mail it to him with some type of delivery verification for her own protection.

  • Laura Nelson

    I have been on month-to-month in my apt since 1999. On friday evening, Oct 24, my landlady informed she had sold the building and I had until Dec. 1st to vacate. Is this amount of time legal or should I have been given more time?

  • Mel

    I was left a not on my door today for demand of payment… It’s a demand for payment to replace the carpet in my unit after I leave. However they want the payment within a few weeks. Are they allowed to demand this from my and why? Thanks in advance

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mel,

      Generally speaking, a landlord can’t charge a tenant for the full cost to replace a carpet. This is because the landlord has already used up some of the expected life of the carpet.

      Further, a tenant should only be responsible for the partial cost if he/she damaged it beyond normal wear and tear.

      For example, if the carpet’s expected life span is 5 years and it was new when you moved in, but you burned a hole in it during the 2 years that you lived there. When you move out, you would (should) be responsible for compensating the landlord for 3 years of life that you stole from the carpet. Therefore, if the landlord replace the carpet with a similar make/model/style, you would have to pay for 3/5ths of it.

      Check out episode 10 of Ask Lucas, where I address carpet damage in more detail.
      http://www.landlordology.com/ask-lucas/

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • Theresa

    Hi Lucas,
    I am a landlord and my tenant moved out on Thursday 23rd. I did a walkthrough on Friday 24th. When I’m I allowed to occupy the condo. His lease is until 31st of Oct. I would like to do some work on the condo. He has moved out of town and I have tired to reach him to ask for permission in writing but he has not responsed to my calls or emails. Do I have the right to take back the condo?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Theresa,

      In Colorado, there is no statute that requires a landlord to give a specific amount of notice before entering. However, I always recommend 24 hours. My suggestion would be to give your tenant 24 hours notice while the lease is still active. If the tenant has already turned in the keys and moved out, then notice would not be necessary since the tenant no longer as access to the unit

      If if the tenant still has keys, you’re allowed to go in to do repairs. Repairs and renovations doesn’t always have to occur between tenancies.

      That said, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice :)

    • Barb Forrest

      This is a tricky subject. I had a tenant who did not pay last month’s rent and was “substantially ” moved out (everything but a small pile of stuff). Under Colorado statutes for eviction, a landlord may take possession of a unit if the tenant has not paid rent and is substantially moved out. I took possession of my property on the 19th after the tenant let it sit empty for all those days. Then we went to small claims court and she claimed she didn’t owe rent for the entire month since I took possession early. I was in the same position as you and did not want to lose a whole month’s rent, and I knew the tenant was most likely not coming back to clean. The court agreed with my tenant and credited rent for those days. The judge said, since I did not file for eviction, the court would not consider the statute so be careful what you might assume. I would weigh the value of the few days rent you might have to return versus a whole month rent from a new tenant if you can get the unit rented immediately. If there’s no way you’re going to have it rented in November, I would wait the two days.

  • Geoff

    Is there a statute of limitation on collecting back rent after the tenant moved out?

  • Amanda

    I’m entering a two year lease. The landlord says in the lease. For the first year the rent will be 1395.00. Says absolutely nothing about the second year. But he expects me to sign it even without knowing what the rent will be. I told him two year leases usually always lock in rent price. That’s why renters do them. Am I wrong here? I told him if that’s what he wants then we will only do 12 months instead of 24. This seems outrageous to me that I would sign a two year lease and have no clue what financial agreement I’m getting into. Does anyone have any knowledge on this??

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Amanda,

      You are smart to be skeptical. Often times, the landlord wants the option to raise the rent in year two, which is understandable. If that’s the case, your lease should only be 12 months.

      With that said, you can definitely sign a 2 year lease, but force the landlord to specific a rent increase maximum for year 2. It’s okay to say Year +$1 ,395 and Year 2 can only increase a maximum of 3% (or whatever % you agree too).

      I hope that helps.

  • heather w

    I need some advice so i have an apartment signed a year lease we have called the actual landlord but shes no help she makes us talk to her managing guy. Well needless to say we skipped rent but we have called repeatedly and left messages over and over again but no response. We didnt pay because i dont think its right for me to try for a month and a half to get ahold of them to come fix the property they own my dishwasher has had problems along with my disposal since day one of moving in my heater vent covers fall off by one little touch of anything which are on the wall but at the bottom by the floor and i have a child and also a burner on my stove is missing and half the time i have yo smack the other three burners to get them to work. But due to skipping one payment they put a not on our door around noon on the 28th of october and told us we had until the 29th at 5 pm to comply with the rent and we called the actual landlord and she told me she would get back to me but instead i got a voicemail from her managing guy that we needed to move on with our lives and find a new place what can i do about this. I dont think its right to do something like this when i have been trying aince day one to get this place fixed. Thanks in advance

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Heather,

      A tenant is allowed to withhold rent for issues of uninhabitability. However, there are restrictions as specified in C.R.S. 38-12-507
      http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/colorado/?app=00075&view=full&interface=1&docinfo=off&searchtype=get&search=C.R.S.+38-12-507

      You unfortunately can’t just withhold rent without certain requirements.

      Further, a tenant doesn’t necessarily have the right to talk to a landlord if the landlord has designated an agent to act on their behalf. If the agent isn’t doing their job, the landlord should hear about it from the tenant, but otherwise, the agent is a lawful representative.

      I think if you want to fight this eviction, you’ll need to start gathering evidence and talk to a lawyer about your rights. Good luck Heather. Please don’t consider this legal advice, as I am not a lawyer.

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