The Landlord-Tenant Environment in Colorado

Colorado landlord-tenant law is generally landlord friendly. There are an estimated 5,557,560 residents in Colorado. Colorado is home to several big cities, namely Denver and Colorado Springs. Denver has an estimated population of 649,654, of which 30% is renter-occupied.

We’ll provide an in-depth look at Colorado laws, as well as local laws in Denver and Colorado Springs at the end of the guide. Please be mindful that city and local laws may be different than state laws, and landlords must follow their local laws.

Colorado landlord tenant laws

Security Deposit Laws in Colorado

Is a security deposit required under Colorado law?

The landlord is not required to collect a security deposit from the tenant. However, when we surveyed our Colorado landlords, the results revealed that every landlord collects a security deposit from their tenants. Also, in the absence of a set statutory amount, the majority responded that they collect a deposit equal to the value of the tenant’s expected monthly rent price.

Under Colorado law, receipts of security deposit are not required, however, they are highly encouraged for accurate recordkeeping.

Colorado Security Deposit Amount

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Colorado?

If the landlord does choose to collect a security deposit, the landlord must return all or part of the security deposit within one month, unless another deadline was agreed to between landlord and tenant. However, it can never be more than 60 days after the lease end date. If hazardous conditions force the tenant to vacate, the landlord must return the deposit within 72 hours (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays).

Which situations allow a landlord to withhold a security deposit in Colorado?

While the landlord is typically required to return the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord may withhold all or a portion of a tenant’s security deposit for:

  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
  • To cover unpaid rent  
  • Cleaning utilities
  • Abandoned property

If the landlord has withheld any portion of a tenant’s security deposit, the landlord must include a written itemized statement along with the portion of the security deposit that is being returned to the tenant. This statement must specifically list each reason for deduction along with the amount deducted.

If the landlord has made deductions from the deposit and  does not include a written statement with the portion of the deposit being returned, the landlord may forfeit their right to keep the amount of money they have  withheld.

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in Colorado?

In Colorado, the landlord is not required to pay the tenant interest on a security deposit.

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in Colorado?

There is nothing that prohibits the landlord from commingling the tenant’s security deposit with his or her personal assets. However, our Colorado landlord survey reveals that more than half of our landlords separate the tenant’s security deposit from their own personal assets.

We recommend keeping the deposit in a separate account so that the deposit is never accidentally transferred or used during the tenancy. The landlord is expected to return the full deposit unless there is a legal reason to withhold money (unpaid rent, cover damage, etc).

Rental Agreement Laws in Colorado

Are rental agreements required in Colorado?

Rental agreements are required for tenancies that are 12 months or longer in Colorado. Even if the lease is less than 12 months, we do advise our landlords enter into written rental agreements with their tenants for added legal protection regardless of the length of the rental term. Our survey results note that all of our landlords require a written rental agreement.

Get started now by creating an online Colorado rental lease agreement with Rentalutions. Our attorney-approved lease includes all the necessary notices and disclosures based on your property’s address. It’s never been easier to create, modify, and sign a rental agreement. Check out our tips to make your rental lease even better.

What are the general lease provisions in Colorado?

In Colorado, the typical lease provisions include the following:

  • The names of both the owner and lessee (landlord and tenant, respectively)
  • The conditions of occupancy
  • An adequate description of the leased premises
  • The term of the lease
  • Who is liable for utility expenses
  • The amount of rent
  • The date rent is due
  • Penalties for late rent payments
  • Landlord’s responsibilities
  • Tenant’s responsibilities
  • Any specific use prohibitions (i.e. pets & smoking)

Tenants living in the rental unit must be at least 18 years old.

Are there any unenforceable provisions in Colorado?

According to Colorado law, landlords are not allowed to have the following provisions in their lease:

  1. Requiring a tenant to waive habitability of the premises
  2. Allowing the landlord to forcibly remove a tenant and the tenant’s personal property without going through the eviction process as required by Colorado law
  3. Requiring the tenant to consent to eviction for non-payment of rent, or for any other reason, without a Three-Day Notice as required by Colorado statute

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in Colorado?

Notice Chart for Lease Length

Are there any specific required lease renewal provisions in Colorado?

There are no specified lease renewal provisions in Colorado.

Rental Payment Laws in Colorado

What are the rules and regulations pertaining to rent payment in Colorado?

In Colorado, the landlord is free to charge any rent agreed upon by the parties. There are no legal requirements for how rent is to be paid and no custom clause in the lease agreements for rent payment.

Are tenants allowed to withhold rent under the laws of Colorado? If so, for what purposes?

In Colorado, tenants are allowed to withhold rent. Specifically, tenants will legally be able to withhold rent in the following circumstances:

  • For issues of habitability
  • The rental unit contains a condition that is materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant’s life, health or safety
  • The landlord has received written notice of the condition and has failed to correct it

However, there are certain exceptions. These exceptions state that the tenant, in order to legally withhold rent, must follow certain statutory procedures. Before the tenant is justified in exercising these options, the following needs to happen:

  • The landlord must have been given notice of the problem by the tenant and a reasonable time in which to remedy the situation.
  • The tenant would then give notice, no less than ten and no more than thirty days that the premises are uninhabitable and the landlord has failed to remedy the breach within five days of receipt of the letter from the tenant.
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The tenant may stop paying rent only after they have followed these steps.

What are the rules and regulations pertaining to receipt of rent payments in Colorado?

The landlord is not required to provide a receipt when the tenant’s rent has been received. However, we strongly encourage landlords to provide a receipt, stating the payment date, the amount, the period for which the rent was paid, and the apartment number. If you collect rent with Rentalutions, we automatically send receipts to your tenants.

Are there any provisions regarding rent control in Colorado?

There are no provisions regarding rent control in Colorado.

Late Fees and Grace Period Laws in Colorado

Is there a legal requirement for late fees in Colorado?

There is no legal requirement for late fees. While there aren’t any restrictions on charging the tenant with late fees, most landlords do charge late fees, which should be reasonable under the circumstances. Learn how to set a late fee here.

Does Colorado have a law regarding grace periods?

There is no statutorily mandated grace period. However, the landlord has discretion to establish a grace period and may subsequently either declare the tenant in default under the lease agreement or accept the rent and the appropriate late fee.

Colorado Landlord-Tenant Law on Repairs

Under a Colorado law applying to all residential agreements entered into or renewed as of September 1 2008, a landlord warrants that the premises are fit for human habitation and for the uses reasonably intended by the parties.

A tenant may withhold rent from a landlord if three conditions are met:

  1. The tenant finds that the rental unit is unfit for the uses reasonably intended by the landlord and tenant.  
  2. The rental unit contains a condition that is materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant’s life, health or safety.
  3. The landlord has received written notice of the condition and has failed to correct it.

A habitable rental unit must meet the following standards:

  • Waterproofing of roof
  • Unbroken windows and doors
  • Plumbing and gas fixtures in good and working order
  • Running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and connected to appropriate fixtures
  • Heating fixtures in good working order
  • Electric lighting in good working order
  • Common areas kept reasonably clean and free from infestations of vermin
  • Appropriate extermination in response to an infestation of vermin in a residential unit
  • Adequate number of garbage disposal containers in good working order

If a landlord fails to maintain or repair a habitable premises after proper notice from the tenant, a tenant may make those repairs, submit a bill for those repairs to the landlord and deduct the cost of the repairs from the tenant’s rent payments, up to $400 in any one month or $1,000 in any 12-month period.

Colorado Laws on Eviction

What are the Colorado laws on eviction?

In Colorado, the only way a landlord may terminate the remainder of the tenant’s lease term and evict the tenant from the rental premises is through a forcible detainer suit. A forcible detainer suit requires the landlord to obtain a court order, requiring the tenant to vacate the property. Any other process in which the landlord attempts to evict the tenant is deemed illegal.

The landlord may evict the tenant for any one of the following reasons:

  • Tenant’s failure to pay rent
  • Tenant’s violation of one or more terms of the lease
  • Tenant has refused to vacate the premises after the lease term has expired

On the other hand, the landlord may not use any form of self-help eviction, which is when the landlord evicts the tenant from the premises without abiding by the legal eviction process. Nearly every state, including Colorado, prohibits this process.

In Colorado, the eviction process, for both commercial and residential leases is as follows:

  1. Tenant violates the lease (see above)
  2. Demand for compliance or right to possession and three-day notice: before filing an eviction action in court, the landlord must provide the tenant with the requisite notice of the landlord’s intention to evict the tenant.
  3. Once notice is received, the tenant must fix the lease violation or vacate the premises within the prescribed three-day time frame.
  4. Tenant fixes lease violation within three-day notice period: if the tenant fixes the violation, the landlord may not evict the tenant.
  5. Eviction or Forced Entry and Detainer Action in Court: if the tenant does not cure the lease violation, or move out within three days of receiving notice, the landlord may initiate the eviction proceeding in court.

Colorado Laws on Retaliation

Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights. Specifically, a landlord cannot increase rent or decrease services in response to the tenant, who has made a good faith complaint to the landlord or to a governmental agency alleging a breach of the warranty of habitability.

Colorado Laws on Domestic Violence, Sexual Misconduct, and Sexual Assault

In Colorado, the tenant may terminate a lease early in special circumstances involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence but the tenant may be responsible for one extra month’s rent. The tenant will not be responsible for an extra month’s rent if he or she provides the landlord with evidence of domestic abuse or threat of domestic abuse. The landlord cannot terminate the lease of a domestic violence victim. Colorado law also prohibits the landlord from terminating a rental agreement or imposing penalties on domestic abuse victims who call the police.

Colorado Laws on Changing the Locks and Security Devices

Landlords are not required to change the locks before a new tenant moves in. However, landlords are required to install a deadbolt lock, a pin lock and security bar lock, window latch, and window guards. After the tenant has made a request for the landlord to install one of these devices, the landlord must respond within a reasonable amount of time.

Colorado Pet Laws

Colorado does not have any specific pet laws. Subsequently, landlords are allowed to create their own requirements for pets. Under state law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with disabilities have the option to bring their service animals to all public forums, including government buildings, hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and stores. These laws also require those who operate transportation services to allow service animals.

Rental License in Colorado

Landlord rental licenses are not required by Colorado law. However, we do advise that you check your local jurisdiction for rental license laws and apply accordingly.

Notice of Entry Laws in Colorado

What are the notice of entry laws onto the tenant’s premises in Colorado?

The landlord is not required to provide notice of entry and therefore may enter the premises for the following reasons: non-emergency maintenance and repairs, emergencies, and showings to prospective tenants. That being said, 24 hours of notice is recommended. The majority of our Colorado landlords noted that they provide the tenant with at least 48 hours of notice before entering the premises.

Notice of Entry

Sublease and Assignment Provisions in Colorado

Under a sublease agreement, the original tenant leases the premises to another individual. This individual must legally abide by the terms of the lease, as they have essentially taken over the lease term for a specified period of time. Unless the lease prohibits subleasing, a landlord may not unreasonably withhold permission to sublet. In most states, subleasing is only allowed if the landlord consents

A typical sublease provision in the State of Colorado reads as follows:

“Lessee shall not sublet the Premises or any part thereof, nor assign this lease, without obtaining Lessor’s prior written permission to sublet or assign. Lessor shall not unreasonably withhold permission and will accept a reasonable sublease as provided by ordinance.”

Click here for a standard sublease template in Colorado.

Abandonment of Property Provisions in Colorado

In Colorado, personal property is considered abandoned if:

  1. The tenant has not contacted the landlord for at least 30 days, and
  2. There is nothing to lead the landlord to believe that the tenant is not abandoning the possessions.

If the tenant leaves possessions behind on the rental premises, the landlord should make a reasonable effort to contact that tenant. If the landlord is not able to contact the tenant, the landlord may proceed to sell or dispose of the personal property.

According to Colorado law, the landlord must give the tenant at least 15 days’ written notice by registered or certified mail, before selling or disposing of the tenant’s personal property. If the last known address is the landlord’s rental property, send the notice to that address.

Required Colorado Rental Agreement Disclosures

Lead paint: In Colorado, landlords are required to include a notice about owner responsibilities under the law with each lease where lead-based paint is known to exist. Landlords are also required to disclose a lead paint based pamphlet. Click here for the lead paint pamphlet.

Mold: The landlord is required to disclose any structural damage, including but not limited to water, fire, smoke, or insect damage and the condition of the roof, and mold. Click here for mold pamphlet.

Utility Disclosure: Landlords are required to disclose certain mechanical services and utilities, including, but not limited to the water source and quality, sewers, drainage, flooding. The landlord should have received this information from the seller when he or she bought the property.

Common Interest Community: Landlord must disclose whether the property is part of a common interest community, which would obligate the buyer to pay certain fees by virtue of either leasing or buying the property.

Methamphetamine: Landlord must disclose if the property has, at any time, been used as a methamphetamine laboratory. See more here.  

Drinkable Water: Landlord must disclose the property’s source of drinkable water.

Transportation Projects: Landlord must disclose any proposed transportation projects that may affect the property in any way.

Special Taxing District: Landlord must disclose whether the property is in a special taxing district and, if unknown, how the prospective buyer can find out whether the property is in such a district and subject to a special tax.

Oft-Cited Colorado Landlord and Tenant Laws

Landlord-tenant law in Colorado is governed by Colorado Revised Statutes, Chapter 38, Article 12 (C.R.S. §38-12).

C.R.S. §§38-12-102: Security Deposit (Defined). Landlord is not required to collect a security deposit but is allowed to at his or her discretion.

C.R.S. §§38-12-103: Return of Security Deposit. Landlord shall return the deposit to the tenant, when tenant vacates the premises, either all or part of the tenant’s security deposit. Landlord may withhold tenant’s security deposit under certain conditions. If the landlord has a legal justification for retaining any portion of the security deposit, the landlord shall provide the tenant with a written statement listing the exact reasons for the retention of any portion of the security deposit.

C.R.S. §§38-12-104: If hazardous conditions force the tenant to vacate the premises, the landlord must return the deposit within 72 hours.

C.R.S. §§38-12-402: Protection for victims of unlawful sexual behavior, stalking, or domestic violence.

  • A landlord shall not include in a residential rental agreement or lease agreement 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’s assistance or other emergency assistance in response to a situation involving domestic violence, domestic abuse, unlawful sexual behavior, or stalking. A residential tenant may not waive the residential tenant’s right to call for police or other emergency assistance.
  • If the tenant terminates the lease agreement and vacates the premises pursuant to this subsection, then the tenant is responsible for one month’s rent following vacation of the premises, due within ninety days after the tenant vacates the premises.
  • If the tenant notifies the landlord in writing that he or she is the victim of unlawful sexual behavior, stalking, domestic violence, or domestic abuse and provides to the landlord evidence of unlawful sexual behavior, stalking, domestic violence, or domestic abuse, and the tenant seeks to vacate the premises, then the tenant may terminate the residential rental agreement or lease agreement and vacate the premises without further obligation.

C.R.S. §§38-12-503: Warranty of Habitability. In every rental agreement, the landlord is deemed to warrant that the residential premises is fit for human habitation.

C.R.S. §§38-12-504: Tenant’s maintenance of premises. Every tenant has a duty to use that portion of the premises within the tenant’s control in a reasonably clean and safe manner.

C.R.S. §§38-12-507: Tenant’s remedies for breach of warranty of habitability. If there is a breach of the warranty of habitability, a tenant may terminate the rental agreement by surrendering possession of the dwelling unit, unless, after proper notice has been given, the landlord remedies the defect. Tenant may recover damages directly arising from a breach of the warranty of habitability, which may include, but are not limited to, any reduction in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit.

C.R.S. §§38-12-509: Prohibition on Retaliation. A landlord shall not retaliate against a tenant for alleging a breach of the warranty of habitability by discriminatorily increasing rent or decreasing 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. §§38-12-701. Tenancies of one month or longer but less than six months. For a tenancy of one month or longer but less than six months where there is no written agreement between the landlord and tenant, a landlord may increase the rent only upon at least twenty-one days’ notice to the tenant.

Colorado Landlord-Tenant Resources

Colorado Revised Statutes

Colorado Landlord-Tenant Rights

City of Boulder Landlord-Tenant Handbook

Denver Landlord-Tenant Law

Landlord-tenant law in Denver is the same as Colorado state law. However, there is a city code of ordinance (see below).

Denver Code of Ordinances 

Colorado Springs Landlord-Tenant Law

Landlord-tenant law in Colorado Springs is the same as Colorado state law.  

Disclaimer

This article is designed to convey information, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney in relation to any decision or course of action contemplated.

 

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