As parties to the Colorado lease or rental agreement, both the landlord and the tenant are required to adhere to the Colorado landlord-tenant laws. These laws state the rights and responsibilities of each party, among other things.
Failure by one party to adhere to the terms means the aggrieved party has a right to seek legal redress. If you are a tenant or landlord in Colorado seeking to learn more about the landlord-tenant laws, here’s an overview to get you started.
Colorado Security Deposit Laws
Both landlords and renters are protected by Colorado’s security deposit laws. The following are common questions regarding security deposits in the state of Colorado:
Q: Is there a limit to the amount a landlord can ask for a security deposit?
A: No, the landlord has a right to ask whatever amount he or she feels is suitable.
Q: Must landlords notify the tenant upon receiving their deposit?
A: No, a Colorado landlord isn’t required to do so.
Q: How should landlords store a tenant’s security deposit?
A: Unlike other states, Colorado’s security deposit laws don’t specify how a landlord must store the tenant’s security deposit.
Q: Can a landlord charge a non-refundable deposit?
A: No, a landlord can’t. In Colorado, a deposit is always considered a tenant’s property.
Q: What reasons can make a landlord keep all or part of the tenant’s security deposit?
A: A landlord has a right to keep all or part of the tenant’s security deposit for any of the following reasons.
- Unpaid cleaning bills
- Repair bills left unpaid
- Unpaid utility bills
- Abandonment of the premises
- Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
- Unpaid rent
Property Ownership Change
In such a case, the landlord must transfer all the deposits to the new owner. Next, he or she must notify the renter that they have transferred their deposits to the new owner. The notice must be written and must state the security deposit amount transferred.
Colorado Small Claims Lawsuits
A small claims court is a court of limited jurisdiction. What this means is that only certain matters may be filed and heard. Unlike other courts, a small claims court offers a quick and inexpensive way of resolving issues.
To bring your case in a Colorado small claims court, you must be seeking to recover $7,500 or less.
Colorado Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent
Landlords are required to provide habitable housing to their tenants. Failure to do so means tenants have a right to withhold paying rent to compel the landlord to act.
In Colorado specifically, if a building fails structural, health and safety standards, renters have a right to withhold rent.
Before withholding rent, renters must make sure that the circumstances truly justify their right to withhold rent. Otherwise, it may give the landlord justification to evict them.
Before withholding rent, it’s important to understand a couple of things like the:
- Limit on how much rent to withhold and how often you can use a particular remedy.
- Type of notice you must give the landlord and the amount of time the landlord must fix the problem before you can withhold rent.
- Type of repair and habitability problems that qualify for withholding rent.
See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-507 for state law on rent withholding.
Tenant Protection Against Retaliation in Colorado
Acts of retaliation are illegal under Colorado state laws. Acts that may constitute landlord retaliation include the landlord:
- Harassing the tenant – in person, by phone, online, or through the mail.
- Changing the locks on the tenant’s doors.
- Removing the tenant’s possessions from the unit.
- Refusing to perform necessary repairs on a renter’s unit.
- Refusing to perform necessary maintenance on a renter’s unit.
- Threatening to evict the renter.
- Decreasing services to the tenant.
- Increasing the tenant’s rent.
Generally speaking, a landlord may retaliate against a tenant for several reasons. Common ones include a tenant joining or organizing a tenant’s union, or a tenant complaining to the landlord about a breach of the warranty of habitability.
Landlord Access to Rental Property in Colorado
Renters have a right to privacy. As such, landlords can’t just enter the rental unit as they wish. They must adhere to the provisions of the Colorado lease or landlord-tenant laws.
Generally, landlords may enter a tenant’s rental unit under the following situations:
- With your permission. If you need repairs done, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing to a landlord’s request. In fact, you should be delighted that the landlord is fixing a problem in your home.
- To show the property to potential clients. You must accommodate your landlord’s reasonable efforts to re-rent if you’ve given notice or your lease is almost up.
- To make needed repairs or improvements. As long as proper notice is served and the entry times are reasonable, you shouldn’t hinder the landlord from performing his or her maintenance responsibilities.
- In the event of property abandonment. The landlord doesn’t need your permission to enter if he or she believes you have abandoned the property.
Although there is no statute requiring Colorado landlords to give their renters notice of their planned entry, landlords generally give a “reasonable” notice to their renters. Usually, it’s a 24 hours’ notice.
The entry times must also be reasonable. Say, from 8:00 am -5: 00 pm during weekdays, or from 9:00 am -3.00 pm during weekends, or any other time that is mutually agreed upon by both parties.
Colorado Fair Housing Rules
Passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act protects tenants from illegal housing discrimination based on several protected characteristics.
In Colorado, the protected classes include creed, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry, familial status, religion, color, disability, sex, national origin, and race.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency that administers and enforces the act.
There you have it– an overview of the landlord-tenant laws in Colorado. By understanding these laws, both parties to the lease should be able to deal with many legal matters even without a legal background.
Note: no part of this information is a substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions, please consult a competent Colorado attorney.