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
  • Failure to Comply:
    • If the landlord fails to provide the tenant written notice of withholdings and other required information within the time limit, the landlord forfeits of all his/her rights to withhold any portion of the security deposit. (C.R.S. 38-12-103(2))
    • The willful and wrongful retention of a security deposit in violation of this section shall render a landlord liable for triple the amount of that portion of the security deposit wrongfully withheld from the tenant, together with reasonable attorney fees and court costs. (C.R.S. 38-12-103(2) and (3a))

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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663 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Nathan Niles


    I looked through and I didn’t see this question asked. The situation is that twice now my apartment complex has not posted/charged rent on the 1st of the month, like they’re supposed to. The lease and monthly statement clearly state that the tenant had between the 1st and 3rd to pay, but how can I pay of it hasn’t been posted. The statement also states clearly that the ONLY method of payment allowrd is online, but again, it’s not posted sometimes until the 2nd or 3rd. The first time I just complained and they said they had not posted it in time. I know it seems silly, but whenever a tenant is late they will not think twice to charge a $75 late fee. However, they are the ones being late, and honestly I feel it is deceiving to demand payment on the 1st when it is literally impossible to pay it on that day. If they continue to inconvenience tenants in thia manner, do I have any support under the law? I’m going to ask for a $75 credit for the inconvenience this time as it is not the 1st time it has happened. If they refuse, do you think there is anything under the law to support me, keeping in mind they are charging me for something while making it impossible to pay? I appreciate any feedback, thank you and have a wonderful day!

  • Robin

    Hello. I looked for the answer to this question but did not find it as well. I currently live with my landlord and two other roommates. One of the roommates is terminating her lease earlier than expected. Our landlord/roommate told her that as long as she finds a subleaser before January 1st 2015, he will return her deposit to her. However, he is now saying that if he doesn’t approve the subleaser before January 1st, then he will keep her deposit, plus charge her for January’s rent. Under what circumstances is it legal to deny a subleasing candidate? Is it legal for him to keep her deposit under these circumstances?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robin,

      If it’s a true subleasing arrangement, then your roommate is still on the hook for the rent if the subletter doesn’t pay. If it’s a roommate replacement (old roommate taken off the lease, new roommate added), then the landlord needs to have final approval to reject anyone who doesn’t qualify.

      A deposit can be used for any unpaid rent or damages beyond normal wear and tear. If your roommate is responsible for January rent because a qualified tenant was not found in time, then the deposit can be used to cover that rent if she fails to pay it. But if the landlord doesn’t incur any damages, then he/she has no right to hold the deposit.

      I hope that helps. Please keep in mind that I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord, trying to help.

      • Robin

        Thank you that helps a lot. She has plenty of possible subletters but, as you said, ultimately the landlord has the final approval to reject anyone not qualified. She is worried he will reject and, as a result, she will have to pay January’s rent. What would make someone unqualified? Is it based off of legal reasons or the landlord’s personal preference of who he or she lives with?

        Thanks in advance for your experienced advice.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi again

          Each landlord is allows to set their own criteria, which usually involves a specific income requirement, and a certain minimum credit score, among other things. Ask your landlord this question to get the specifics.

        • Barb Forrest

          I’m a Colorado landlord, and it’s my understanding that I have an obligation to keep the costs to a minimum. I can’t just keep someone’s whole deposit. I can only deduct the cost of re-renting the unit, and any lost rent. If the new tenant has to also give notice to their landlord, it could easily push the rental past January 1st. Hopefully one of the candidates will be able to move in immediately or by the 10th or 15th in which case the landlord would deduct the prorated portion and advertising costs.

          My daughter’s landlord charged us $70/hour for his time and sucked right through her deposit. I think we could have recovered some of that had we taken him to small claims court but it was not worth the time or effort. A judge would not have allowed $70/hour at that time. One judge allowed on $25/hr for my painter instead of the $40 he charged.

          Your roommate’s best bet would be if he didn’t give her notice of the deductions from her deposit within the allowed 30 days (or 60 day max if it’s in the lease). Then she can ask for the full return of her deposit, and he must comply or pay 3x the security deposit less the landlord’s expenses.

  • Annie


    I am renting a detached 2bd, 1 bath house. I have one roommate who is looking to move out, but our current lease does not say anything about subleasing, nor breaking the lease, nor a “buy-out” nor early termination (the house was recently sold, and our previous landlord gave us a very simple, stock-agreement!). Our current landlord said we would have to sign a new lease that allows for subleasing. However, I am wondering about some other stipulations he is trying to write into the new lease:

    - He said that if we sublet her room, then I would not be able to sublet mine come summer (I am a student) because of a “company policy that requires at least one tenant of the original lease to stay on the premises.” In the research I’ve done though, I have found that “landlords cannot withhold sublease permissions unreasonably”…as I am a student who is not a permanent resident of this state, would this qualify as unreasonable?

    - Furthermore, if our current lease does not say anything particular about subleasing in the first place, do I need to sign an entirely new lease agreement? Or can this be resolved with written consent to sublease (as per the “without unreasonably withheld permissions”)?

    - The last issue I have is that our landlord wants to change our refundable security deposit to nonrefundable, due to a “change in the terms of the agreement”. I was wondering if this is legal? I know landlords cannot willfully or wrongfully retain a deposit, but I am wondering where his re-writing this in a lease would stand against that statute.

    - Do we have other options with this situation?

    With these concerns among other less significant yet odd changes in the agreement, we feel a bit like he is trying to pull one over on us and just wanted to seek out some advice!


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Annie,

      Thanks for your question. I’ll try to help but please keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

      1. Can you send me a link to the statute or source that says “landlords cannot withhold sublease permissions unreasonably? I’d like to add it to this page. Also, please know that you and your roommates are considered “one entity”, so you are not viewed as a separate person. By allowing subletting to one, he is satisfying the requirement, and I believe it’s okay that he puts a cap on the # of sublets. Allowing subletting to all, would be like allowing all the tenants move out – which should really be discussed as wanting to break the lease.

      2. It’s always been my understanding that subletting is not a “right”. It has to specifically be granted in the lease if it’s allowed. If it’s not mentioned, or granted, then it’s not allowed. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s why I’m asking for the source of subletting quote.

      3. In CO, non-refundable deposit are not allowed. The landlord must return the “full” deposit (C.R.S. 38-12-103(1))

      4. Please know that your existing lease stands, until it either expires or both parties agree to sign a new lease. Please know that your new landlord can’t make you sign the new lease just because he took ownership of the house, but rather he/she has to honor the old lease until it expires. Residential leases usually carry over, even if ownership changes hands.

      If you are requesting a subletting clause, the landlord is allowed to make any other changes too. If you don’t like it, then you don’t have to sign it. But then you’d have to move out when your old lease expires.

      Good luck, and please let me know about that subletting verbiage.

      • Annie

        Hi Lucas,

        Thanks for your response!

        Regarding the verbiage “unreasonably withheld permissions,” I have to apologize, I misquoted the source, it actually says “the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse to give consent.” It’s not an official government site, from what I can tell, but this is the resource I was looking at when I saw the verbiage (page 5 of this document):

        I suppose my only additional concern is, how is it possible a landlord can grant permissions to a certain number of tenants if we are viewed as “one entity”? …if we are “one entity” under the law, then would we not have the same right to sublet (assuming the permission is granted in the first place)?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Annie,

          Great job finding that document! Although I can’t specifically tell who the author is, it does seem like it might have been published by the courts or a legal aid center. However, I’m always a little cautious when they fail to backup their claims with statutes or case law.

          On page 5 is does say : “Generally, if your lease is silent on subletting/assignment, a tenant is able to sublet or assign. If your lease requires the landlord’s consent to sublet or assign, the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse to give consent.”

          This is opposite of what I told you, but it may be correct. The truth is, a judge could rule either way on this based on relevant information presented by the landlord and you.

          Any further advice that I could give would not be that helpful. If you want to force your unwilling landlord to allow everyone on your lease to sublet, you’re going to need legal advice. Have you searched for “free legal aid in YOUR COUNTY”? There might be some offices that can help you interpret this document, and find the corresponding statute to support it.

          Good luck! Please do let me know how it goes.

        • Barb Forrest

          Great link you posted! I believe this came from the Colorado Bar Association. In following the references, I came upon this link: “Key Lease Provisions” It’s a document focused on commercial leases but it has a section on assignments of leases and states: “A Landlord by giving assent to an assignment without any restrictions on future assignments, waives entirely a restriction in the Lease against assignment without the Landlord’s consent.” This is why your Landlord wants you to sign a new Lease. I wouldn’t do it. I’d tell him your original lease is still in effect and does not deny you the right to Sublet. I’ve now added this language to my lease.

  • Robert

    Hi Everyone!

    I am writing in continuation to a post that I wrote on Nov. 3 at 9:28 p.m. if you need to reference it. I stated that I was given notice to vacate my house due to it being sold and construction that would be taken place on the property. I was give my 60 days notice that was required and I was on a month to month lease. As I stated in my previous post the new landlord/owner had initially verbally agreed to waive my rent for the month of August. I moved out on Sept 15. Also as stated he has since recanted that statement and says he never agreed to that. He still has not sent me a letter or deductions and refuses to cooperate with me. I know I need to send a certified letter requesting the return of my deposit within seven days. I now live in Texas and will have to fly to Colorado to sue him because that’s where the property is. He lives in California. The only thing he has sent me that would remotely serve as a detailed list of deposit deductions is included in these two emails.

    Oct. 7

    “In response to your e-mail for your deposit, before I can return your deposit, or potion thereof, I need to complete an accounting of outstanding expenses or liabilities of yours while as a tenant. Yesterday, I received notice from Little Thompson Water District that you did not pay your last two water bills. As owner of record, I am now responsible for your bill if your do not pay it. Knowing this, I am now expecting to receive notice of other bills of yours that have been left unpaid. There is also the matter of not paying rent for the month of August or for the 15 days of September. I will notify you of the status of your deposit once I complete the accounting.”

    Nov. 11

    “I researched Colorado law. As you stated in your e-mail of November 5, 2014, the law requires the landlord to submit a detailed list of deductions regarding the security deposit within 30 days of the move out date. You moved out on September 15, 2014. On October 7 2014, I sent you, by email, a list of deductions. The e-mail mentioned two unpaid bills from the Little Thompson Water District Water and the failure to pay rent for the month of August and the first 15 days in September.”

    “The security deposit per the lease is $2,250. The two water bills have been paid. The rent payment for August was $2,000 and the rent payment for the 15 days in September prorated to $1,000. Total deductions were $3,000 from the security deposit of $2,250. ”

    With that in mind, I have two questions. Would either of these e-mails satisfy his requirement to send a detailed list deductions? And does he have to send a letter and not e-mails correspondence? thought the law says letter but I also believe that e-mail may be legal correspondence. I’m not sure. Again, the e-mails are dated. I moved out on Sept 15.

    I don’t want to spend all the time and money to fly to Colorado for small claims court if I’m not very confident in my case. Also, can I sue for travel cost as well?

    Thanks Again,

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robert,

      Are you arguing any of his claims, or hoping to get a ruling based on the landlord not following the law exactly?

      Personally, if I were banking on a technicality, then I wouldn’t risk it. If I disagreed with “what” he was deducting, then I would certainly fight the case. For example, it seems as if he is withholding 3,000 for unpaid rent in August and Sept. If you already paid it (or disagree that it was your responsibility), then clearly it’s worth fighting over. But if his deductions are accurate, and you even owe him extra, then it might not be worth waking the dragon. If you lose, you might have to pay his court costs.

      Anyway, as you know, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s how I would handle it if I were in your shoes.

  • Patrice Bell

    My grandfather now 87 has live in the same Affordable Housing unit over 17 years. This property was originally beautiful and unique but over time the original property managers did the bare minimum to upkeep regular maintenance requests; which went along with them not doing close to nothing with capital improvements that needed to be done. Understanding that some of these improvements were cosmetic, but over time even those cosmetically unappealing things have progressed into safety concerns.

    Within the last 2-3 years a new company acquired the asset, and has been trying to maintain current maintenance problems, but still no capital improvements have been done and or on the horizon.

    We are talking about:
    1) a gate that remains broken
    2) no outside lightening
    3) ground molding warped by water, mildew, etc.
    4) single wood tiling floors coming up causing mobility issues (especially for an elder on a walker)
    5) window casing warping causing large drafts, and so on
    6) Basement foundation cracks
    7) Carpet that has not been replaced in over 7-10 years
    and more…….

    Questions (not limited to):

    1)My grandfather does have several medical issues that I omitted; however, do laws only apply if you have a medical issue pertaining to a particular capital-improvement/maintenance-issue?
    2)Can someone please shed some light on these major issues?
    3)Where can I see specific laws and requirements about major capital improvements that have been neglected for years?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Patricia,

      1) Medical issues aren’t really a concern in the landlord-tenant relationship. It’s up to the tenant to ensure that he or she can live independently. Legitimate disabilities are, but even so, they are only a concern from a screening and discrimination aspect. The landlord, however should not deny a request for a medical device or modification. Meaning, if the tenant is in a wheelchair, the landlord can’t prevent the tenant from installing a ramp.

      2. The landlord is responsible for maintaining a habitable premise. So, if any of these issues potentially renders a unit uninhabitable, then the landlord would be in violation of the lease, and would need to either get it fixed, find another place for the tenant to live, or give the tenant a chance to terminate the lease. Generally speaking, habitability issues are usually things like: waterproofing, open sewage, no hot or cold water, no stove, etc.

      3. I don’t think you should be looking for a list of major capital improvements. I think you should call your local housing authority, or code enforcement office, and ask for a list of requirements that make a place habitable.

      Just my non-legal two cents…

      I wrote a little article on Trulia recently about habitability:

  • Linda Shafer

    I have a question…my son who’s a college student in CO, rents a home with other students, but his name was not on the lease, as by landlord terms, is considered a guest. He paid a security deposit upon move in (to a student who’s name is on the lease) and is leaving before the end of the lease. Does he forfeit his deposit altogether? At this point, there has been no replacement found for him.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your comment. When subletters are allowed without the landlord’s permission, and without a written agreement, bad things happen. I’m sure your son is smart, but this was not a wise situation to get into because he really don’t have any grounds to make demands.

      If this were a typical landlord-tenant relationship, and your son was breaking his agreement and moving out early, he would be responsible for the rent up to the time that a new tenant takes over the lease. In this situation, if your son refused to continue to pay rent, the deposit could be used to offset damages. If there are no damages (i.e. someone else moved in immediately) then your son would get his whole deposit back minus physical damages.

      A tenant never just “forfeits” his deposit. It always has to be used for something. If it’s not used up in it’s entirety, then the remaining amount goes back to the tenant. If the deposit doesn’t cover all the damages, the deposit is used in full, and then the tenant is still responsible for the remaining balance.

      I hope that helps. Please keep in mind, this is just generally how the rental process works. Often times, specific agreements overrule generalizations, so a lot would depend on the verbal agreement that was made between your son and the other tenants. Further, please know that I am not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord, trying to help.

  • Bruce O

    In colorado does staying in a hotel for over 30 days establish residency to where an eviction is needed? I am asking because I have been staying in the same hotel for over a month now with my 3 young children, its middle of December, we have paid on time every week, until this current week which the owner told my wife she could pay part and finish up on friday, then changed her mind this evening saying she had until tomorrow to come up with it. We are planning to pay but cant cover it until Friday… Do I have any hope of holding the room until friday or can she just put my kids on the street?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bruce,

      I’m not familiar with hotel laws, but I do know that they are very different from rental laws. Hotel residency is dependent on availability, and since it’s classified as temporary housing, I don’t believe it can be considered a “residence”. But that’s just my two cents.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

    • Barb Forrest

      Hi, Here’s my 2 cents. You can always be evicted for non-payment of rent but they have to post it and give you the 3 days notice before they can force an eviction.

      I live in a resort community and I know that the local hotels do rent rooms by the month and when that is the case they are not charging the county lodging tax thereby confirming it as a monthly rental. However, you have been paying by the week. Are you paying the lodging taxes? This would be the first thing I would look at. If they are not charging those fees, they have established a monthly rental with you. If they are charging those fees, you’re paying hotel rates. This possibly varies by county. Check you receipt and then check with the county.

      Best regards,

  • Rex

    Question that I hadn’t seen:

    My roommate and I met a gentlemen that has told us that he placed a deposit on our place and will be moving in after the first of the year. We are still under lease. This was news to both of us. We have not seen anything about vacating the premises. The gentleman we spoke to knew the landlord and his place of business, so it seemed legitimate. I know there’s a violation from the landlord if we’re given exceptionally short notice, but can a landlord be shopping the place out like that with no lease violations going on?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Rex,

      It depends on your current lease agreement. If you have a month-to-month agreement, then either party can terminate it with 7 days notice in Colorado (C.R.S. 13-40-107-1c)

      If you have a fixed-term lease, then a landlord cannot terminate the agreement until the end of the term, unless there is a violation.

      I suggest calling your landlord and verifying the statement from the gentlemen.

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