Updated June 15, 2021
Colorado Springs Airbnb laws changed significantly at the end of 2019. If you are a real estate investor looking to get into the Short-Term Rental (STR) market, you may have missed your opportunity, at least in the city of Colorado Springs.
The Colorado Springs City Council has implemented some new Colorado Springs Airbnb Laws that make investing in Short Term Rentals more challenging. We are going to take a look at why those rules were implemented, what the rules are and how to move forward as a real estate investor.
The phrase short term rental has traditionally meant a rental property that is leased for less than one year. This type of rental was generally used by people who were waiting for a home to be built or were new to an area. Short Term Rentals were usually difficult to find and didn’t create much controversy.
This all changed with the introduction of online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.
Both of these services allow homeowners to lease their own place directly to guests for short periods of time, much like a hotel would. These transactions are now referred to as Short Term Rentals or STR’s
This new type of short-term rental is actually for very short periods of time. Short Term now means by definition less than 30 days but in practice, the lease periods are more commonly 3 to 5 days.
Controversy is what motivated the Colorado Springs City Council to institute these new Colorado Springs Airbnb laws regarding short term rentals. Investors love short term rentals because they yield high returns, however neighbors detest them because of the increase in traffic, noise and people coming and going.
The short-term nature of the stay demands a higher rental rate while in most cases, the tenants aren’t in the rental long enough to cause any serious damage. There are of course exceptions to this rule but for the most part, STR’s are a great investment.
The opposition around short-term rentals generally stems from inconveniences created by the short-term tenants. Things like parking in the wrong place, making too much noise, or just being a bad neighbor.
In a long-term rental lease, these problems can be worked out over time but or the problem tenant can be removed. In a short-term rental, the tenants are gone in a few days and the process potentially starts over again with each new guest.
Frequent complaints from STR neighbors to municipalities eventually led officials to implement guidelines around STRs. This is the case as well here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In a recent move, the Colorado Springs City Council approved new short-term rentals regulations on 25th November 2019.
The Colorado Springs City Council voted 5-4 to approve the new provisions for short term rentals which are more stringent than existing provisions. These new provisions were recommended by the City Planning Commission.
The goal was to regulate properties rented out by online platforms such as VRBO and Airbnb. The City Council decided that these provisions were needed to establish a standard for all the short-term rentals within Colorado Springs.
Short-Term Rental operators will be required to obtain a valid permit to operate. The operator must display their approved permit and Good Neighbor Guidelines (with the permit number, valid through date, and local emergency contact) in a prominent location within your short-term rental unit.
The permit is valid for one (1) year from the date the permit was issued by the Planning & Community Development Department. After the expiration, the permit becomes invalid and the operator can renew the permit for an additional period of one year.
The Ordinance also clearly states that the permit is issued to the owner, not the property. This means that the permit is issued to the operator or the specific owner in order to operate or use the short-term rental unit.
Once the property transfers from one owner to another, the permit becomes invalid. The new owner will have to reapply for a new permit.
For example. "Mr. X" the operator of a short-term rental unit received a permit on January 1st of 2020. This permit is valid for one year from the date of issuance or December 31st. of 2020.
If "Mr. X" sells the short-term rental unit to "Mrs. Y" on, November 1st. of 2020, "Mrs. Y" will need to apply for a new permit if she intends to continue operating the property as a short-term rental.
In the case of non-owner occupied STR’s, existing owners (Pre-November 2019) are grandfathered in and therefore eligible for a Permit. Although these non-occupant owners are grandfathered in, they still need a permit to operate and if they sell or transfer the property, the new owner is not eligible unless they live in the property for more than one hundred and eighty-five (185) days.
There are still opportunities for investors to be a successful Airbnb landlord in other cities and towns within the Pikes Peak region. The key is to find areas that are desirable to visitors.
Probably the best opportunity for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. Manitou Springs is a small tourist-friendly town located just west of Colorado Springs. The city of Manitou Springs adopted regulations for the very first time in 2016. The Planning Department recommended changes to those rules in 2018 and at this point in time has yet to implement those changes.
As of now, the regulation states that the permission of the Manitou Springs City's Planning Commission is required for the rental of the dwelling unit which is given on rent for the sole purpose of lodging for at least one day and for a maximum period of twenty-nine days. The planning commission of the city provides the occupier with a minor conditional use permit.
Monument, Colorado is a small town located just north of Colorado Springs. While Monument doesn’t possess the same tourist appeal as Manitou Springs, there are limited possibilities to find tenants for a short-term rental in Monument.
Monument is close to the United States Air Force Academy and both Cadets and Parents look for short-term rentals. Monument is also home to some great outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking. An STR investment in Monument would certainly be more difficult to keep occupied but it’s not out of the question.
In the town of Monument, there are no regulations around short-term rentals.
Palmer Lake is located just west of Monument, Colorado and falls into the same category as Monument when it comes to STRs. There is limited availability but also not a strong demand either.
The City of Fountain, Colorado is located just south of Colorado Springs. The City Fountain is home to the Fort Carson Army Base. This creates the potential for short-term rental guests from friends and family visiting service members. Additionally, Fountain is close to both Schriever Air Force Base and Peterson Base. Both of these air stations provide potential guests as well.
Fountain is currently looking to adopt the zoning rules for both tiny homes and short term rental units which are advertised by online platforms like Airbnb and also for other houses that are rented for a continuous period of thirty days at any particular given time. However, regulations or official notification from Fountain have yet to be announced.
Woodland Park is a small eclectic mountain town located west of Colorado Springs in adjoining Teller County. While not as popular as Manitou Springs, this city does have a strong draw for tourists. The upside to Woodland Park for inventors is that there is generally more available inventory here than in Manitou Springs.
Woodland Park has yet to institute rules around short-term rentals.
Another niche might be to look into short term rentals that require a stay of 30 days or more. Leases of more than 30 days do not require a permit.
These have traditionally been called corporate rentals and were intended for corporate employees traveling for work for extended periods of time. They afforded these road warriors the amenities of home in a setting that was more comfortable than a hotel.
Much of the corporate rental market jumped into the Airbnb model of leasing simply because it was so profitable. This has left a vacuum in inventory for those people looking at short term rentals for more than 30 days but less than a year. This is people that are building houses, new to the area or corporate travelers.
While the rates for a corporate rental are less lucrative than those for the Airbnb type rentals, they are still more attractive than what you would see on a traditional long-term lease.
Recently it was brought to the attention of the Colorado Springs City Council that there is a loophole that allows for limited liability companies to hold short-term rental permits forever. Even though the number of LLC companies that hold permit for short term rentals is relatively small, the issue created some discussion. The commission ruled against a permit holder who wanted to keep his permit after transferring ownership of the rental house to a limited liability company for liability and estate planning reasons. The intent of the city code was for short-term rental permits to expire when homes are sold. Neighborhood advocates are encouraging the Colorado Springs City Council to close this potential loophole to maintain the intent of the city code.
At this point, the Colorado Springs City Council has committed to revisiting the rules around short term rentals within the city limits again at some point in the future. Until then we have to live with the current regulations.
If you aren't an existing pre-November 2019 non-occupant owner of a short-term rental in Colorado Springs the good news is you've been grandfathered in and as long as you acquire a permit can continue to do business until you sell the property.
If you are a homeowner leasing out an accessory dwelling unit or small apartment within your home. You're OK as long as you have a permit and follow the rules regarding number occupants allowed.
Finally, if you are a non-owner occupied investor looking to get into the short term rental market in the Pikes Peak Region, your best bet is going to be to lookout in one of the surrounding areas that don't yet have restrictions in place. Airbnb and VRBO properties do well in areas that are a popular destination for visitors and tourists.
Until something changes, this is the current status of the Short-Term Rental market in Colorado Springs. If you have any additional questions on short-term rentals or real estate investing in general, please feel free to contact us.
Peyton, Colorado is located in the eastern portion of El Paso County just northeast of the Falcon area and west of Calhan, Colorado. Peyton property management is a unique challenge because of the way the eastern plains have developed. While Peyton is for the most part a rural community, there are newer subdivisions in the Falcon area that have a Peyton address. This is because the U.S. Post Office in Peyton provides mail service to homes located in the Falcon area for the entire 80831 zip code. This includes newer suburban neighborhoods like Woodmen Hills, Meridian Ranch, and Paint Brush Hills.
Managing this diverse range of rental property types requires both skill and experience. Since Peyton has everything from custom golf course homes to horse properties on large acreage property managers in this area need an extensive skill set. An effective property management company will need to have years of experience and knowledge of everything from working with an HOA to understanding how to maintain a well and septic system.
Finding great tenants is the key to effectively managing properties, and the first step in finding them is to sell the area. At first glance, Peyton doesn't appear to have a lot to offer prospective tenants, but if you are familiar with the area, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Peyton is home to some great amenities and activities like Homestead Ranch Regional Park, The Rock Island Trail, and a wide range of shopping and restaurants
Schools are another important consideration for many tenants and while the Peyton School District 23jt is a small school district it consistently scores above the state averages on standardized testing scores. The class size and quality of education in the Peyton school district is another advantage when seeking great tenants.
Our area's military bases also provide a great source of quality tenants. While the Peyton area is not close to Fort Carson, it is close to both Peterson Air Force Base as well as Schriever Air Force Base. When it comes to finding great tenants for the rental properties we manage, we have an aggressive marketing campaign for each property we manage. We start with professional photography in order to capture the most desirable qualities of the property and showcase the home in the best possible light. These photos become the basis for our marketing efforts. In our experience, great photos in the right places, generate interest in a property faster than any other marketing tool.
The internet has replaced print media as the best way to find rental properties. We send our rental listings to a wide range of property rental websites in order to generate as much interest as possible. We feel like the deeper the pool of applicants, the more success we have in finding a great tenant.
Once we have our applicants, we begin the screening process. Proper tenant screening is one of the basic aspects of our Peyton property management services. Screening involves processing the application, pulling a credit report, credit reports show us if the applicants have a strong enough positive credit history. We also perform criminal background checks as well as contact employers and former landlords in order to check the applicant's work and rental references
We can’t overstate the importance of great tenants, and screening is the most effective way to stack the odds in our favor when it comes to finding them. This process requires a lot of work but we do this to provide our clients with the highest level of service, it also makes our job easier throughout the term of the lease.
The lease agreement is the next level of protection a good property manager should provide for the property owners. A well-written lease eliminates questions and clearly outlines what is expected from everyone involved with the property. The lease should explain expectations around rent payments when they are due and what the penalties are for late or missing rent.
The signed lease should be accompanied by the security deposit and explain how maintenance requests are handled and which if any maintenance items are the tenant’s responsibility. This becomes especially important when leasing rural Peyton properties with valuable livestock equipment and facilities.
When it comes to maintaining your property, professional property managers should use professional contractors. These vendors also require screening and management but at the end of the day, they reduce the potential of problems due to incompetence.
The lease will also outline the expectations as far as living within an HOA community. This is important in those newer neighborhoods in the nearby unincorporated area of Falcon. These newer subdivisions have homeowners associations as well as restrictive covenants. Failure to adhere to these covenants can cost the homeowners in fines and levies. The lease should make clear that abiding by the neighborhood covenants is the responsibility of the tenant and failure to do so will result in penalties and in some rare cases eviction.
The lease should also outline what the eviction process will look like in the event we need to remove the tenant. The eviction process is difficult and can be messy, the eviction process alone can be worth the price of a good property manager's management fee.
Beyond finding qualified tenants, screening them, executing the lease, and collecting rents there are a number of other services a good management company should provide.
Pricing the property is an essential skill in professional property management. Price the rental rate too low and the owner leaves money on the table every month for the term of the lease. Price the rent too high and the rental could take months to lease, also costing the owner thousands of dollars. We provide a rental market analysis at the end of every lease term. This ensures that we remain relevant with our rental rates.
Financial reporting is an important part of property management. The property owner should receive monthly statements showing where the money is going. The statements should show any fees or expenses associated with the day-to-day management of the property. The manager should also provide year end statements, these are essential when it’s time to prepare your taxes.
Property inspections are another important aspect of good property management. The property manager should perform regular inspections of the property to make sure the tenants are taking care of the property. The manager should also be checking for the appropriate number of tenants, we don’t want anyone living in the property that hasn’t been screened. They should also be on the lookout for any pets that are not supposed to be on the property.
Deposit disputes are a major part of dealing with rental property. A good Peyton property management company will do thorough documentation of the property before and after each occupancy. Our property management company takes hundreds of before and after photos of the property. We also do a 360-degree inspection of the property using a Matterport camera. This allows us to view the entire property on a very detailed level. As an added bonus we can share this tour with the property owner as well as the tenant. Having this level of documentation helps us eliminate a good deal of the drama around deposit disputes. These are also great tools for marketing the property.
Here is an example of our 360 scans of a rental property.
Property Management service should extend to the tenant side of the lease as well. We make every effort to keep our tenants happy. This involves offering flexible payment options like online payment options through our online tenant portal or with a credit card. This is also where the tenants can make us aware of any repairs or maintenance requests they have.
We also provide an online owner portal, this allows you to get any important information you might need regarding the property or your account 24/7.
Residential property management is a serious business with a constantly changing landscape. This is why we are also members of NARPM, the national association of residential property managers. This organization is the gold standard in the real estate industry for property managers. NARPM provides up-to-date information and education for real estate professionals that manage single-family homes and small residential properties.
If you are considering a Peyton property management company to manage your home or investment property, you should look for a professional that offers a wide range of services that will protect your property as well as your investment in your property. If you want to talk to this type of company, please give us a call, we would love to talk to you about your rental property.
For many tenants, property condition is a deciding factor when renting a home. If you’ve been renting for a while, you’re probably already in the habit of documenting any damages prior to move-in. But how often do you think about the carpet condition in your rented home or apartment? Probably not often (until it starts to look visibly dirty or worn) and you probably don't know anything about the Landlord Carpet Replacement Law.
Without proper cleaning and maintenance carpet can become a health-risk even before it begins to look dingy. Carpet can hold four times its weight in dirt and debris, which settles into the fibers and cannot be removed by dry vacuuming alone. Food, hair, skin cells, as well as debris, dragged in by pets or shoes can build up in the carpet, making it a perfect breeding ground for mold and dangerous bacteria.
Even if you are scrupulously clean, you will still have some level of build-up in your carpet. There’s also no guarantee that a property’s previous tenants shared your standards of cleanliness. Knowing your rights as a tenant and asking your prospective landlord a few questions before signing a lease, could spare you a few headaches down the line.
Colorado has passed a number of rules and regulations governing the landlord-tenant relationship, which includes laws about property condition. The Colorado Warranty of Habitability, for example, was designed to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords and requires rentals to be adequately waterproofed, have working heat, plumbing, and electricity, as well as proper sanitation. Under this warranty, the landlord is responsible for any necessary maintenance and upgrades to keep the property habitable.
Beyond the general requirement of habitability, which would ostensibly include properly maintained flooring, there are no state laws regulating carpet replacement or maintenance. As a result, landlords are only legally required to replace the carpeting in rental properties if it makes the house unlivable, such as in cases of mold or pests.
Under these laws, how frequently carpets should be replaced is left to the landlord’s discretion. When touring a rental, you may want to ask when the carpet was last replaced and when the landlord intends to install new carpets. With normal wear and tear, a carpet can last approximately 15 to 20 years, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends replacing a rental property’s carpets every 5 to 7 years.
So what should you do if you’re touring a house or apartment with dingy carpets that have never been replaced? As a potential tenant, you have a few options—
As a tenant, you may also bear some responsibility for replacing damaged carpets, which is why it’s important to document any potential issues before move-in. You do not want to be charged for damages that you did not cause and disputes over security deposits are common but avoidable. The deposit that you pay at the beginning of your lease will be used to make any necessary repairs when you move out, which could include cleaning or replacing carpets.
If your landlord decides to withhold part of your deposit, he or she must give you a written report explaining the deductions. Deposits can only be used to cover damages, not normal wear and tear. When it comes to carpet, wear and tear includes issues such as matting, dirt or wear in heavily trafficked areas, and impressions from furniture. Burns, stains, or tears in the carpet would be considered damages, and your deposit could be used to pay for cleaning or replacing the affected areas.
In most courts, the cost of replacing the carpet would be prorated over the course of five years, since that is considered the useful life of carpeting in a rental home.
In other words, if the carpet is already 3 years old when you moved into the house, you could not be charged the full cost for replacing a damaged carpet, since it was already halfway through its expected lifespan.
The method of carpet installation can also affect how the carpet depreciates. Since tacked-down carpet is easily removed, it is not considered “attached” to the property and would depreciate over the span of 5 years. Glued-down carpet is considered more permanent and would depreciate over 27.5 years like most other types of flooring.
Though you may not think of carpet condition as a deal-breaker in a rental property, take a moment consider the extent of damage or wear before committing to a lease.
Considering the amount of bacteria and dirt that can live in a carpet, negligence in cleaning and replacing the carpet could put you and your family at risk.
Asking for the carpet cleaning and replacement schedule during a tour is a great place to start and could help you and your landlord come to a better understanding of each other’s priorities and expectations.
If you are a landlord in Colorado, you should have a basic understanding of the Colorado Eviction Process and applicable Colorado Eviction Laws. Why? For a landlord, nothing derails your cash flow quicker than dealing with an eviction and it is important to know your rights and responsibilities.
You vetted the tenant –as carefully as possible. You pulled credit reports, did a background check, verified their job, and called their previous landlords to make sure everything checked out.
At first, they may have been an ideal tenant; paying the rent on time, and rarely causing problems.
But somewhere along the way, something changed and a tenant that was once considered qualified –is no longer abiding by the terms of the lease.
In most cases, this violation comes in the form of late rent. Maybe they’re having trouble paying due to a job loss that results in a sudden loss of income, or income being cut in half due to a divorce. Other times, lease violations involve a tenant moving a new roommate in, without seeking permission first; or even adopting an undisclosed pet or two, and bringing them into your ‘no pets’ rental. Sometimes, there may be more serious issues involved; such as drug-related activity or criminal activity.
The fact is that even the most carefully vetted tenant, can sometimes slip through the cracks. And things come up that can transform even the most ideal renter into one who’s in violation of the lease.
No matter what the issue is, for landlords, it’s extremely important to ensure that you take action as soon as possible, to help prevent the problem from compounding or getting worse. Once a tenant falls too far behind on the rent, it can be all but impossible for them to get caught up. It may seem like an insignificant detail, but for many landlords who depend on rental income, a tenant who falls one month –or longer behind on the rent, can represent a serious loss.
For tenants who may be violating the lease in other ways, such as moving pets in without permission, taking action to address the issue sends the message that you care about your rental, and expect all of the residents to abide by the rules. Letting things “just slide” for too long can lead to complacency and the start of a downward spiral.
If you’ve reached the point of no return, where a tenant who is in violation of the lease isn’t complying with your warnings, the next step is usually to begin the eviction proceedings.
For a landlord to evict a tenant in Colorado before the tenant’s rental term has expired, they must have legal cause. The Colorado Eviction laws defines legal cause as:
The first step in the Colorado Eviction Process involves giving the tenant a 3-day notice. This notice states your intention to evict the tenant and informs them that they have three days to fix the lease violation or vacate the property.
Once they’ve received the 3-day notice, the tenant usually has two options:
The tenant has three days to correct the problem or move, and if they fail to do so, then you may begin the eviction procedures through the court. This process can be initiated on the 4th day after the tenant receives the notice.
According to the Colorado Eviction Laws, if the 3-day notice doesn’t result in the tenant paying the rent, or ‘curing’ the violation –or moving out, you can then proceed with the formal Colorado eviction process.
This involves filling out a few forms including JDF 99, or, Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer, plus a CRCCP Form 1A –Summons in Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer, and a CRCCP Form 3 –Answer Under Simplified Civil Procedure.
Once you’ve filed the complaint with the court, you have one day to mail a copy of all of the forms to the tenants. Do this via first class mail with prepaid postage.
Next, the court clerk will schedule a hearing. This is usually between 7 and 14 days from the date that the summons is issued. However, the tenants must be given at least 7 days between the date they are formally served and the court date itself.
The summons can be issued by the sheriff’s department or a private process server –or by another adult who isn’t involved in the eviction. If the tenants cannot be served in person, the papers can be posted on the door of the rental.
After the tenants have been served, they must show up in court, or file a counterclaim to the allegations in your complaint. If you’ve filed everything correctly and the tenants do not make a counterclaim, you may receive a summary judgment in your favor.
If they feel they have legal grounds, a tenant may try to contest the eviction. They could do this by filing an answer on or before the time set by the court.
Some common legal defenses that a tenant may use include claims that you failed to maintain the rental unit, or that you are retaliating against them. Fighting an eviction could increase the amount of time that the tenant is able to stay at the rental property.
If the tenant files an answer with the Justice Court, then a hearing will be scheduled. A notice of the hearing date will be mailed to all parties.
However, if the tenant fails to answer or appear on the date indicated in the eviction papers, you can obtain an eviction “Order” by default.
If the judge makes a decision in your favor, you can then file for possession of the property. To do this, you’ll want to complete the Motion for Entry of Judgment (JDF 104). After reviewing it, the court will give you a signed copy of the Order for Entry of Judgment (JDF 107).
Next, the countdown begins. The tenant will have 48 hours from the date of the judgment to vacate the unit. If they don’t, then you can then complete the Writ of Restitution (JDF 103) and present it to the court.
Once the judge approves it, they’ll contact the sheriff’s department to execute it; that is, to remove the tenant.
If the tenant hasn’t vacated the premises, then the actual eviction will take place.
You’ll receive a time and date from the court or sheriff’s department, stating when they will arrive to execute the writ.
You can then arrange to have the tenant’s personal property removed from the rental at the date and time that you received from the court. This is generally done with the help of a local moving company. You will have one hour to remove the tenant's belongings, so make sure you will have enough manpower available to remove everything during this time.
On the day of the eviction, the sheriff will serve the Order to the tenant and then will remain on site.
In some jurisdictions, such as El Paso County, the Sheriff will generally “Pre-Serve” the tenant by posting a notice letting the tenant know they will be back to take possession. This is done to encourage the tenant to leave instead of waiting for the eviction itself to take place.
Keep in mind that the only person who is authorized to remove a tenant from the rental unit is a law enforcement officer. A landlord must never try to force the tenant out of the unit. If you attempt to do this yourself, the tenant could take legal action against you.
Neither the sheriff nor the landlord has any responsibility to safeguard the tenant’s property once it is removed. If you find that a tenant has left behind personal belongings, you aren’t required to contact the tenant before disposing of them. However, if you do decide to store them for the tenant, you can charge storage.
Once the tenant has been evicted; the landlord or property manager can take steps to get the property ready to rent again.
In most cases, the first step is getting the property re-keyed.
At this point, the cleaning and repairs can commence as well. This involves a walk-through inspection of the unit, taking note of any damage that the tenant caused.
You also process the security deposit that you obtained from the tenant when they first moved in. If there is any back rent owed or damage to the rental, you can apply the security deposit to this, and send the remainder to the tenant. Keep in mind that general wear and tear is not the tenant’s responsibility, and cannot be taken out of their security deposit.
If additional back rent or money is still owed, even after the security deposit has been applied, you can start the process of seeking this as well.
While evictions can be a stressful and often-confusing time, it’s important for landlords to ensure that they follow the law to the letter. Complying with the law will help the eviction proceedings to go much more smoothly. If you were to attempt to take the law into your own hands at any point, or neglect to send out the right form, a tenant could have a reason to contest the eviction, and the judge could end up throwing your case out. In this case, you may have to start the proceedings again.
Evictions are never pleasant but they do get easier over time. Once you have a clear understanding of the Colorado Eviction Laws and the Colorado Eviction Process, it’ll be a lot easier to navigate the process and ensure that you do so in a way that’s in compliance with the law.
If you’re not sure where to start, you could always consult with an experienced attorney, to make sure you’re clear on the Colorado Eviction Laws, the Colorado Eviction Process, what’s required of you as a landlord or tenant, and what steps you should take.
Note: The information in this article is intended to inform and educate, it should not be taken as a substitute for legal counsel. If you have any questions about the eviction process or your rights as a landlord please contact an attorney.
The end of a lease is an important event for landlords and tenants alike. It can also be a time of conflicting expectations. Both tenant and landlord need to understand the difference between normal wear and tear versus damage.
The landlord will usually expect their property to be returned to them in the exact condition that it was in when the tenants moved in –and if this doesn’t happen, are often happy to use the tenant’s security deposit to make it this way. Tenants, on the other hand, more often than not will expect their full security deposit back, even if there has been some damage to the rental.
In order to help manage expectations, and make the move-out process as simple and straightforward as possible, it’s important for both landlords and tenants to be on the same page. This includes having a good understanding of security deposits, and what they can and cannot be used for.
At the time of move-out, the landlord or property manager is responsible for repairing any damages to the property, as well as assessing and documenting normal wear and tear. A good Property Manager will have a move-out routine that includes items like:
They’re also responsible for deciding who will pay for any repairs, maintenance, and cleaning that’s required to bring the property back into rentable condition.
This is the part of the process that’s often full of contention. When it comes to assessing damages, the landlord’s job is to assess the property and determine what falls under the category of damages, and what should be considered simply normal wear and tear. While damages are the tenant’s responsibility, things that fall under the category of normal wear, should not be taken out of the security deposit.
It's important that landlords not use the security deposit to pay for things that go above and beyond the scope of normal wear. They may attempt to use it for things like worn carpeting or faded paint on the walls, things that aren’t damages, but instead are just the result of normal usage. In most cases, landlords know to use the security deposit as intended, to repair damages to the property, only for the tenant to contest this, and seek to get it back. One important exception to this rule pertains to items spelled out in the lease. Examples might be cleaning or carpet cleaning. If these items are stipulated as tenant responsibility in the lease, the landlord is within their rights to use security deposit funds to pay for them, if the tenant left these items undone.
When it comes to repairs, though, the law stipulates that the security deposit should only be used for repairs to damage that goes beyond what’s considered to be ordinary wear and tear.
Colorado Law (C.R.S. 38-12-102) defines “normal wear and tear as “Deterioration which occurs, based upon the use for which the rental unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or members of his household, or their invitees or guests.”
That’s a bit confusing for landlords and tenants alike. To help clear things up, here’s a list of examples of both normal wear and tear and damage.
|Normal Wear and Tear||Damage|
|Worn out Carpet||Torn, Stained or Burned Carpet|
|Faded Window Coverings||Torn, Mutilated or Missing Window Coverings|
|Worn out Keys||Lost or Missing Keys|
|Dirty Walls||Holes in Walls|
|Dirty Windows||Broken Windows|
When determining costs, the landlord will also make decisions about repairing versus actual replacement. In some cases, repair is the best choice. A good example of this would be a recent experience we had. A tenant had backed a car into the side of a home damaging a section of masonite siding. The siding was already in rough shape and the product was failing and the particular pattern was no longer available. The owner was planning to reclad the home in stucco in a couple of years anyway, so we just applied a patch using every the favorite body putty of every motorhead, "Bondo".
This repair worked out well because the owner already had a plan in place for new exterior stucco and was willing to kick the can down the road. Had this not been the case, the repair could have cost the tenant a lot more money. It’s important to note that in some cases, a landlord may charge replacement cost for an item that could be repaired with a short-term fix. So, for example, suppose a tenant punches a large hole in a wall. The landlord may choose to repair it in the short-term by simply patching it. While this temporary fix is fine for the short-term, the underlying fact is the wallboard is not the same, and the owner may choose to go back at some point and replace the entire wallboard so they are within their rights to charge for replacement.
If the item can be repaired, though, in most cases the landlord will choose to go that route. In this case, the landlord will deduct for labor, materials, and travel.
For example: if a five-year-old carpet is destroyed and that particular type of carpeting had a 10-year life expectancy, the landlord may only charge the tenant 50% of the replacement cost. This is a good practice, and extremely important as it helps to prevent landlords from using deposit funds in order to upgrade their properties.
|Water Heater||10 Years|
|Carpeting (builder grade)||5 Years|
|Air Conditioning Units||7 Years|
|Interior Paint-Enamel||5 Years|
|Interior Paint-Flat||3 Years|
|Linoleum Tile||5 Years|
|Window Coverings (shades, screens & blinds)||3 Years|
These are estimates are produced by HUD. Manufacturer estimates will vary.
Assessing the condition of the property is the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.
This will allow the landlord to determine whether there are any damages that are the tenant’s responsibility, and therefore should be paid for out of the security deposit. It also allows them to set the condition baseline before a new tenant moves in.
The challenge is determining and documenting the condition of the property before the damage occurred. This is important in the event that the tenant disputes the damages, or if the case goes to court, as having proof that the affected or damaged area was in good condition before will generally resolve the issue.
Of course, there’s a lot that tenants can do to help ensure that they’ll get their deposit back at the end of their lease.
First, of course, tenants should ensure that they keep the property in good condition while they live there, and avoid anything that might cause damage to it.
Secondly, if a tenant would like to contest the landlord’s decision to apply the security deposit to damage, they can do so. The best way to do this is by being able to furnish proof of the condition of the property. In most cases, tenants should consider taking their own photos. Generally speaking, the more documentation, the better. Photos that are taken at the time of move-in could provide proof of the condition of the property, and images that are obtained, say; a month into the lease could be used as proof of damage caused by movers. It’s also a good idea to use a camera with a time and date stamp feature and to show any pictures of post-move-in damage to the landlord.
It’s also worth noting that if a landlord fails to follow Colorado security deposit laws, the tenant could be awarded up to three times the amount that was wrongfully withheld, plus attorney’s fees and court costs, so it’s important for landlords to ensure that they remain in compliance with the law, and handle the security deposit properly.
For tenants, it’s important to remember that normal wear and tear versus damage are broad definitions, and much of the detail about the condition that you’re required to leave the property in at move-out will be specified out in your lease.
It’s important to read the lease before signing it and to make sure you ask questions to ensure that you’re clear on what’s expected of you. For instance, in some cases a landlord may state that the carpets are to be professionally cleaned at the time of move-out, others will require you to perform regular, outdoor grounds keeping maintenance, so make sure you fully understand your responsibilities and requirements before you move in.
Successful and straightforward move-outs are always the result of good documentation and communication, from both parties. It’s important for landlords to spell out their expectations in the lease document, and for tenants to ensure that they’ve read the lease –and are clear on their responsibilities both in terms of maintenance, and the condition that they’re expected to leave the property in at the time of move-out.
Rental Security Deposit disputes usually occur because of a misunderstanding between a landlord and a tenant. At the end of a lease term, the tenant is usually required to leave the property in “move-in ready” condition. This means the same condition in which they received the property, minus any normal wear and tear.
Since normal wear and tear are well defined, most landlords or property managers should have a strong grasp on what constitutes damage vs normal wear and tear.
At the end of the lease term, usually, after one to three years, the landlord inspects the property. This move-out inspection determines if the property is "Move-in ready" for the next tenant.
If the property needs cleaning or repairs to be move-in ready, those costs are paid from the previous tenant's security deposit.
Each individual state regulates its own landlord, tenant laws. In spite of this, most state laws are very similar. Most states allow deductions from security deposit funds for the following:
When using security deposit funds, the landlord is responsible for:
Inappropriate use of security deposit funds can cause problems for the landlord. When security deposit disputes go to small claims court the guidelines are clear. The landlord can incur penalties for failing to adhere to the appropriate guidelines.
Because of the dollar amounts involved, security deposit disputes that cannot be resolved without the help of a judge end up in small claims court.
The small claims process is very straight forward, the Judge looks at the following:
The rules about security deposits are clear so disputes are usually about what "move-in" condition is. The responsibility falls to the landlord to document the condition of the property prior to any new tenant moving in.
Problems occur for the landlord if they fail to adequately document the condition of the property. In these cases, it becomes about the landlord's word against the tenant's word and the courts can be more sympathetic to the public.
When a landlord fails to appropriately document the condition of a property, it speaks volumes about how they do business. There are instances when the damage to a property occurs someplace so obscure the landlord could not have been expected to document that area. This is, of course, the exception, not the rule.
Proper documentation of the property and open communication with the tenant are the best way to avoid small claims court.
There are a number of methods available to facilitate the effective documentation of a property. Digital imaging and cloud storage have made it very simple to record and share any media or reports.
Photos are a great way to document property condition. Digital storage is cheap and photo-documenting a property is easy. Sharing photos with the tenants enables them to check out the original property condition. Just being able to see move-in photos goes a long way to heading off any potential condition disputes.
Another advantage to photographs is that in the event you end up in court, you can print before and after pictures. This saves time in court and shows that you've done the proper documentation.
Video has become another popular method of documenting the condition of a rental property. Lightweight high-quality cameras make this an attractive option for landlords and property managers. One advantage of video is that the person shooting the video can also comment about what they are seeing. This avoids having to make notes or guess about what the photo is about.
Like photographs, videos are easy to store and share. Videos can be more difficult to deal with in a courtroom setting. Patience can run thin while fast-forwarding or rewinding as you look for something specific. Higher quality cameras allow you to take good quality still photos from video clips. We recommend this if you need to go to court.
Virtual tours have become very sophisticated over the last five years. Matterport is a 360-degree camera that produces so pretty awesome virtual walkthroughs. This is a great way to share the current condition with the owner as well as creating a record for the tenant time of move out.
In the event we need to go to court, these virtual tours allow us to zoom into an area and take a very high-quality still photo. Our Colorado Springs Property Management company uses this method and it's working great.
Reports are another effective way of documenting the condition of a property. Popular property management software usually comes with some type of reporting module. These modules usually come in the form of an app for a mobile device. The landlord walks through the property and takes photos of any issues. These apps have a place to write comments as well.
We have used these apps in the past and they produce a really attractive report. The only problem we have found is that they only capture current problems. We have found that it's best to have a comprehensive snapshot of the entire property. This way if a problem arises, we have documentation of how the area looked.
A little transparency, communication, and participation can also go a long way in reducing security deposit disputes. Move outs are easier when both tenant and landlord are on the same page. One way to accomplish this is to get participation from the tenants right at the beginning of the lease period.
It's a good idea to get the tenants involved in documenting the condition of the property right from the beginning. We like to give out tenants the opportunity to take pictures of any damage or dirt they find prior to any big furniture or appliances being moved in. If you have set up a file for move-in documentation, these tenant photos can be incorporated.
Obviously, there needs to be a reasonable deadline for these types of discoveries. But, we have found that this one simple action has really helped reduce our security deposit disputes.
Another effective action is to perform a pre move out inspection walkthrough. This is an informal walkthrough where the landlord can point out or make a list of any items that might be an issue.
This gives the tenant heads up and allows them the opportunity to make the item right before they move out. If they choose not to repair or clean something found on this walkthrough we always interpret that it's something they're willing to have taken out of their deposit. This pre-inspection walkthrough gives them a clear picture of what's going to happen so they don't feel blindsided.
Another good way to avoid any misunderstanding about expectations at move out time is to provide the tenant with a cleaning checklist. In most cases, a general checklist works well. If the property is really unique the landlord may need to provide more detailed instructions for the tenants.
Unexpected surprises are the primary cause of disputes over security deposits. Transparency and communication help eliminate surprises. While the tenant may not appreciate the deduction, knowing that it’s coming and why it’s coming goes a long in avoiding a trip to small claims court.
Renters insurance is a type of policy that is designed to cover the tenants and their belongings in a rented residence. While landlords have their own policies that cover their structures and financial interests, these policies don’t generally extend coverage to their tenant's personal property.
This means that if a tenant’s property is damaged or stolen, a landlord's insurance is not likely to cover the cost of replacing those items.
Most renters don’t think about protecting their belongings, much less their potential liabilities as a tenant. In many cases, tenants will look to their landlord for compensation of damaged destroyed or stolen items.
If the landlord is responsible for losses due to negligence, the tenant may have a case but this is the exception, not the rule. In most cases, the responsibility for their belongings falls to the tenant.
This is why many landlords require tenants to have renters insurance before occupying a property. They do this to avoid disagreements that may arise as a result of theft or damage.
A renter's policy also helps protect the landlord in case the renters or guests get injured on the property.
This type of insurance works just like most insurance policies. The purchaser chooses a coverage level which in turn determines the cost of the renter's monthly premiums.
In the event that anything happens to the tenant or their belongings, such as fire, theft, or other types of damage, the tenant simply files a claim with the insurance provider.
The insurance provider will then pay the amount that’s equivalent to what’s covered by the policy after paying any deductible.
Apart from covering your property, renters insurance can also cover other types of disasters.
For example, let’s say someone falls on your stairs and sues you for the medical bills, renters insurance can cover it. If you have to move out of your house after a fire tragedy, most policies will take care of the cost of living in a hotel room as well.
However, it’s important to go through your renter's policy and coverage and identify its strengths and weaknesses. The elements covered by policies differ, and maybe less detailed if you choose a relatively low premium.
Renters insurance primarily covers tenant's belongings in the event of damage or destruction. But keep in mind that the policy doesn’t cover for every type of damage or accident. Renters insurance coverage typically has four types of coverage. These are;
These are the common types of coverage that renters insurance provides to tenants. Some Renters insurance policies may even cover your belongings when you’re traveling.
As much as this insurance policy protects you against unexpected events, it’s still important to realize the type of scenarios that are not covered by this type of insurance.
Renters insurance coverage won’t protect you from everything. Most service providers don’t cover damages caused by natural calamities, events related to dangerous dog breeds, among many others. Here are some things that aren’t covered.
Fortunately, a tenant's insurance policy isn’t that expensive, these policies can cost you as little as $10 to $20 a month and about $200 to $250 per year. This is a fraction of the replacement cost for the average renter's belongings. It just makes sense to obtain this type of insurance even if it's not required.
The price of your policy is determined by the type of policy you need. Individuals who own expensive and sophisticated gadgets will pay more than those who’ve simple and less expensive items.
It’s all up to you to decide whether you need renters insurance or not. If you’re finding it hard to make this decision, start by evaluating your personal finances and your possessions. If you live in a small studio apartment with simple furnishings, and you’re sure that you can replace them from your pocket without any struggles, you may not want renters insurance.
On the flip side, if you own more household items that you can’t afford to replace at once, a renters policy will benefit you.
Start by going through all the rooms in your house and make a list of the items and how much they will cost to replace them.
Don’t forget to include the smaller items, i.e., dishes, books, clothes, even pots ,and pans. Now, sum up the total and if the total amount exceeds the amount you can afford to replace your inventory, you should consider getting a quote for a renters insurance policy.
Obtaining a renters insurance policy is very easy; in fact, you’ll wonder why you haven’t already done it. After you’ve taken stock of all your belongings, find out what’s covered by your landlord’s insurance and note down everything that isn’t covered.
You can then start researching different insurance companies online and make comparisons before choosing. Most insurance companies offer free quotes online, over the phone, or even in person. You can contact them, and they’ll take you through the best insurance coverage plan for your situation.
Once you’ve decided that you need renters insurance, there are several things to consider before purchasing this type of insurance policy. They include:
Landlords who have a rule banning applicants who were convicted of a crime-may want to rethink that policy. Recent guidelines issued by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on April 4, 2016 call for landlords to do away with blanket bans, that disqualify applicants based on prior convictions or arrests. Having a general ban on renting to tenants with a criminal record, precludes applicants from housing solely on the basis a criminal record, could be considered a violation the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act signed in 1968, prohibits landlords from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. While criminal history is not a protected class, under the new HUD guidelines, turning down applicants on the basis of a criminal record, without considering the nature of the crime or facts surrounding the conviction, can’t be legally justified –and could, indirectly, be a violation of the Act.
As many as 100 million U.S. adults, or nearly one-third of the population, have a criminal record of some sort. Additionally, the United States prison population, with 2.2 million adults, is the largest in the world. Since 2004, an average of over 650,000 people have been released every year from both federal and state prisons –and 95 percent of those currently incarcerated, will be released at some point in the future.
For individuals who are released, the ability to secure safe and affordable housing is a crucial part of their successful reentry into society. Yet many individuals who were formerly incarcerated are finding it extremely difficult to secure housing –because of their criminal history.
Michael Bowers, a single father, has had his share of trouble finding housing in Austin, Texas.
This is due to the fact that Bowers has a criminal record. As a teenager, he was arrested for stealing a debit card and going on a $340 shopping spree.
“I was young,” says Bowers, speaking of his crime. “We were drinking. There was a card. I was like, ‘I’m going to use that to buy stuff that I want.’ It was a dumb mistake.”
This crime led to Bowers spending a few days in jail and being put on probation. Today, however, nearly ten years later –one consequence of this mistake continues to plague him –most landlords still refuse to rent to him.
“The most frustrating thing is I’m just a single dad,” says Bowers, who lives in Austin with his daughter. “I work hard, and I just want to give my child a place to live.”
The fact remains that many landlords are rejecting tenants on the basis of their criminal history –or even an arrest that never even led to a conviction, without taking into account the nature of the crime, how long ago it occurred, or rehabilitation.
For people like Bowers who are trying to get their life back together, finding housing remains one of the most difficult hurdles.
While many landlords refuse to rent to tenants with a criminal record, doing so may be a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
A landlord violates the Fair Housing Act when their policy or practice has an unjustified discriminatory effect, even if the landlord had no intent to discriminate. This is known as “disparate impact” –which occurs when policies or practices that appear on the surface to be neutral, result in a disproportionate impact on a protected group.
“Criminal records-based barriers to housing are likely to have a disproportionate impact on minority home seekers,” the guidelines note. Black and Latino Americans are disproportionately affected, the memo notes since they are incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the general population. Black and Latino individuals comprise an estimated 58 percent of the U.S. prison population, despite accounting for only 29 percent of the total U.S. population.
Under this standard, even a policy that may seem neutral on the surface –could have a discriminatory effect against protected classes, and thus could be a violation of the Act, if it’s not supported by a legally sufficient justification.
It’s important to note that while HUD doesn’t recognize having a criminal record as a protected characteristic under the Fair Housing Act; proponents argue that criminal history-based restrictions on housing opportunities could, indirectly, violate the Act.
Additionally, proponents state, that by making it easier for people with an arrest record or criminal history to find a home, housing providers will help to increase the chance of an individual’s successful reentry to society.
“The fact that you were arrested shouldn’t keep you from getting a job and it shouldn’t keep you from renting a home,” says HUD Secretary Julian Castro. “The ability to find housing is an indispensable second chance in life.”
JoAnne Page, President, and CEO of the Fortune Society, which works with formerly incarcerated individuals, also highlight the importance of housing for individuals with a criminal background. “We know that if a person does not have a stable, affordable place to live, being a contributing member of society is extremely difficult,” she says.
While the HUD guidelines outline what landlords should not do when weighing up a potential tenant’s application, they’re less clear on what type of criminal convictions can be used when assessing an applicant.
As there are no guidelines on which crimes should be considered acceptable, and which are not, aside from certain drug-related charges. In most cases, landlords are advised to use their discretion, with the HUD guidelines stating that they should consider circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
Case-by-case, means that imposing a blanket ban on individuals with a criminal history, is no longer an option. Instead, landlords and property managers will have to put a bit more care into evaluating applications on an individual basis.
Industry groups, such as the National Apartment Association, are weighing in on the new guidelines. The NAA released a white paper on best practices to members, which advised taking measures such as adjusting screening policies to include only certain types of offenses –rather than a blanket ban, outlining clear justifications for those policies, and giving applicants a chance to explain mitigating circumstances.
While the HUD guidelines are just that, guidelines –and landlords are not bound by law to follow them, the best practice is for landlords to take the HUD guidance seriously, and change any current policies that automatically exclude applicants with a prior conviction; as well as any policies that have not been thoughtfully developed and justified.
While these guidelines may sound daunting –the good news is that for most landlords, they may not be as formidable as they sound.
“Employers have been taking most of these steps for years,” explains attorney Denny Dobbins, “It will not be difficult for good Landlords to comply.”
In order uphold these guidelines, though, landlords will need to need to be a bit more thorough when it comes to documenting their reasons for denying an applicant. They’ll also want to ensure that their policy’s approval criteria, as it pertains to a person’s criminal history, are supported by a legally sufficient justification. For example –if a landlord has an apartment complex, they must also take the safety of the other residents into consideration; therefore they may be able to prove that banning individuals who have committed violent crimes is a justifiable decision. Additionally, landlords who house families with children may not be able to rent to anyone on the Sex Offender Registry. Thus, denying a registered sex offender would not constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
But under these guidelines, landlords cannot institute a sweeping ban on all applicants with a criminal history, and cannot reject applicants for arrests that did not lead to a conviction. Additionally, landlords must take care to ensure that all potential applicants are treated the same; and that comparable criminal histories are assessed similarly; without considering race, national origin, or any protected class.
HUD states that a housing provider must show that its policy accurately distinguishes between criminal conduct that indicates a demonstrable risk to resident safety or the property and criminal conduct that does not.
Landlords are advised to take into consideration the nature of an individual’s conviction as well as time elapsed since the conviction. The only clear exception that the guidelines make is for convictions for manufacturing or distributing drugs.
Landlords that oversee multi-unit residences must balance out their nondiscriminatory screening policies, with their duty to ensure resident and property safety. This means assessing the nature of the crime to see if there is legally sufficient justification to ban an applicant from the housing. Unfortunately, this is a gray area –and one where landlords and property managers alike much exercise diligence and discretion.
While the HUD guidelines aren’t clear, HUD indicates on their website that for public housing authorities, a criminal background investigation must be performed to determine lifetime registered sex offenders –which then may be precluded from housing. It would seem to follow, that if public housing authorities can draw the line at registered sex offenders that non-public housing landlords could do so as well. But when it comes to offenders who are not on the registry, the guidelines are less clear.
“The nature and gravity of a sex crime may be so serious that even the slightest amount of risk may be too much when contemplating the protection of your substantial and legitimate interest(s),” says Denny Dobbins, attorney. “A case-by-case evaluation based on the facts is necessary for how long to prohibit residency for those with a sex crime who do not have a lifetime sex offender registration status.”
Landlords who are uncertain should consult with an attorney.
Landlords are advised to assess the circumstances surrounding the criminal conduct. This means that they should consider the age of the applicant at the time of the crime, as well as any other mitigating details. Landlords should also take care not to exclude applicants based on arrests alone since an arrest doesn’t always lead to a conviction.
The amount of time that’s passed since the conviction occurred should also be taken into account. Although the HUD hasn’t given a specific timeline that’s reasonable for felonies or misdemeanors, some have suggested a period of six or seven years for some felonies or high-risk crimes.
If an applicant presents evidence of rehabilitation, this should be taken into consideration as well.
There are practical ways that landlords can maintain compliance with the HUD guidelines regarding renting to tenants with a criminal background. Here’s a look at a few things landlords should consider doing:
When it comes to the application process, landlords and property managers may want to consider running criminal background checks last; until after an applicant has already passed employment and income verification, credit checks, and previous rental history. Not only will this help to keep housing providers from having to make many potentially difficult decisions, it will also save time when processing applications.
One key area where landlords should tread especially carefully is when screening tenants. Asking potentially problem questions such as, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” and instead, looking to ask more relevant questions, such as “Have you been convicted of a crime in the last seven years?” is a better option; one that shows that the landlord isn’t imposing an outright ban on applicants with a criminal history; and instead is asking relevant questions and assessing applicants on a case-by-case basis.
Landlords and property managers should consider informing applicants that, if they have a criminal background, they are welcome to submit proof of mitigating circumstances at the time of the crime as well as proof of any rehabilitation efforts. Requesting this information is a step in the right direction, and also shows that the landlord isn’t implementing a sweeping ban on applicants who have a criminal background.
Finally, landlords and property managers should review their existing rental policies and tenant screening procedures. Landlords should pay special attention to ensure that there are no qualifying questions that could be considered discriminatory against potential tenants. Doing away with sweeping statements, such as disqualifying all applicants who have a criminal background; and instead implementing policies that allow for a case-by-case analysis is an important step that housing providers should take to protect themselves.
Landlords should inquire with the current and previous landlord to assess an applicant’s qualification. Questions to ask include:
Landlords should also obtain a consumer credit report and carefully check the information therein. Landlords should:
Every landlord should have a written list of rental criteria, and ensure that they uphold it consistently with each rental application. Examples of rental criteria include:
If an applicant fails to meet the above criterion, the fact that they may have a criminal record becomes irrelevant. In the end, the best way for a housing provider to avoid claims of discrimination and ensure equality for all applicants –is to ensure that decisions are not based on one single factor; a criminal record, and instead seek to use other qualifying questions when making a decision.
In addition to helping to prevent claims of discrimination, this method will also help to alleviate fears of landlords, who may be concerned about safety implications that come from not having a blanket ban in place. As Chris with Tenant Verification Services writes, “In most instances…individuals who have a criminal record and continue to lead that type of lifestyle, will not meet your criteria anyways.”
Finally, landlords should make sure they have a look at the HUD Guidelines for themselves, as well as this helpful white paper from the NAA. They should also consider consulting with an attorney, to ensure that they are screening applicants, qualifying questions, and applications –before refusing to rent to a tenant with a criminal record.
Tenants: do the HUD guidelines affect your home search?
Disclaimer: The information provided is for and advisory purposes only. Springs Homes for Rent accepts no responsibility for its accuracy. We recommend that you consult with an attorney familiar with current federal, state, and local laws.
The Colorado Warranty of Habitability is a statute that outlines conditions that a property must meet in order for it to be considered fit for human habitation.
This statute was established in 2008 to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords. Since then, there have been a few updates and changes made to the document, with the latest changes taking place in 2018.
Many of the issues that this warranty addresses are things that wouldn’t normally arise in rentals that have attentive and fair landlords, however, some of these problems are things that are found in low-income rentals and student housing; which makes this warranty an important tool in helping to prevent dangerous and uninhabitable living conditions.
This warranty states that each rental lease in Colorado carries what is known as an implied warranty of habitability, which stipulates that a landlord is bound by law to keep the property in a habitable state, regardless of whether this is written in the rental agreement or not.
But what does this mean for landlords? What are the requirements outlined in the law? How can you ensure that you’re maintaining your property in a way that’s in compliance with this statute?
Let’s take a look now:
The Warranty of Habitability focuses on the condition of a property.
According to the warranty, residential property is considered uninhabitable if it substantially lacks any of the following:
Unless otherwise stated in section 38-12-506 of the bill, a residence must comply with these regulations –prior to being rented out. So landlords, make sure your properties are fit for purpose before you start running rental ads!
It’s important to note that the warranty states that no deficiency shall render a premise uninhabitable unless it substantially limits the tenant’s use of the dwelling.
So if something breaks down, or requires repairs, this doesn’t automatically mean that you’re in breach of the warranty. Things will go wrong and break down –and you have a reasonable amount of time to complete the repairs.
What this statute aims to do, is to prevent landlords from allowing their properties to become uninhabitable, and to give tenants recourse should landlords be slow to remedy problems that do arise.
So a landlord is in breach of the warranty if:
Now, if the condition of the property is an issue that was caused by the misconduct of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or a guest or invitee of the tenant –then this condition does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability.
Tenants have recourse should the property they are renting becomes uninhabitable.
However, it’s important to note that this must be a genuine case of a breach, not simply an excuse to break the lease or stop paying rent. This would put the tenant's security deposit at risk as well as leave the tenant responsible for any remaining rents.
Here’s a look at what the Colorado Warranty of Habitability, as well as the steps the tenant needs to take to remain in compliance with the law.
If the premises become legally uninhabitable based on the above criteria, the tenant should first notify the landlord.
The landlord must have been given notice of the problem by the tenant. They then have a reasonable timeframe during which they can remedy the problem.
A landlord has 24 hours to respond after receiving the notice, and their response must indicate their intentions for remedying the condition, along with an estimate of when they expect that the remediation will commence and be completed.
A tenant may obtain injunctive relief for breach of the warranty of habitability in any county or district court. The court will determine actual damages for a breach of the warranty at the time the court orders the injunctive relief.
However, the landlord will not be subject to any court order for injunctive relief if they tender the actual damages to the court within two business days after the order. Upon application by the tenant, the court will release to the tenant the damages paid by the landlord.
If the tenant vacates the rental, the landlord shall not be permitted to rent the premises again until it complies with the warranty of habitability.
Additionally, amendments to this bill also state that a tenant may deduct the cost to repair or remedy the condition themselves; however, the tenant must obtain an estimate for the costs first. If the amount is greater than one month’s rent, then the tenant may deduct over subsequent months until the amount of the estimate is deducted.
The tenant must provide the landlord with at least ten but no more than thirty days’ notice prior to deducting rent.
If a court finds that a tenant has wrongfully deducted rent, the court will award the landlord either possession of the premises or an amount of money equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, or –if the tenant is found to have acted in bad faith, an amount of money equal to double the amount wrongfully withheld.
If the same condition that caused a breach of the warranty recurs within six months after the condition had been repaired, then the tenant may terminate the rental agreement. They must provide fourteen days’ notice to the landlord.
If, however, the landlord remedies the condition within fourteen days of receiving the notice, then the tenant may not terminate the agreement.
In the case that a rental agreement contains a provision related to obtaining attorney fees and costs, then the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs.
The Colorado Warranty of Habitability also prohibits retaliation. If a landlord retaliates against a tenant alleging a breach, then the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and recover an amount not more than three months’ rent or three times the tenant’s damages, whichever is greater –along with reasonable attorney costs.
As a landlord, your best option is to keep your property in good, habitable condition, and to respond to any issues that arise –especially those that would render it uninhabitable, in a timely manner.
It’s also important to protect yourself with an airtight lease agreement, one that outlines the condition that you and the tenant are required to keep the property in, and specifies which party is responsible for what tasks.
Also vital, is maintaining good documentation of repairs as well as any agreements, or communication with your tenants.
Finally, it’s important to have a working knowledge of landlord-tenant law so that you have a good understanding of your requirements and responsibilities, as well as the rights of your tenants.
There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about the Colorado Eviction Process. If you are involved in residential leasing as a Property Manager, Landlord or Tenant, it’s important that you understand your rights and responsibilities in the State of Colorado.
We aim to provide a comprehensive overview of what the eviction process within Colorado entails. As an aside, you'll often see eviction referred to as "forcible entry and detainer" (FED) when it comes to Colorado statutes, so keep that in mind.
First of all, if you're going to go through with evicting a tenant via termination of their lease, you'll need to have a sound legal reason.
The most obvious and most common grounds for eviction would be the tenant defaulting on their rent. Colorado laws also cover violation of a condition of the lease agreement as reason for eviction.
This type of eviction generally happens because a tenant refuses to follow the guidelines of the lease. For example, failing to adhere to the covenants in an HOA based community. Other situations that can result in an eviction are violations that relate to issues like a pet violation or undisclosed roommates. In Colorado we do see a lot of lease violations around growing marijuana in a rental property.
In Colorado, the tenant can also be evicted in the case of a public trustee sale. If the tenant commits a violent criminal act or is involved in a drug-related activity (referred to as a substantial violation), this also provides a legal basis for eviction.
Of course, there are also protections for the tenant against unfair eviction.
For example, a landlord cannot attempt an eviction in response to the tenant filing a complaint about violation of what's called implied warranty of habitability. This is laid out in the Colorado Revised Statutes in Section 38-12-509.
What is implied warranty of habitability? It's simply a fancy term for how livable or unlivable the apartment is. If a tenant complains living conditions are poor, they can't be evicted for this reason, though in this case the burden of proof is on them.
A federal law, the Federal Fair Housing Act prevents eviction of a tenant on the basis of race or color, religion, national origin, familial status, or sex.
It also covers disabilities: if the person requires a service dog, this need overrides any pet restrictions present in the lease. Colorado state law also provides protection against discrimination on the basis of ancestry or belief systems, marital status, and sexual orientation.
Depending on what city in Colorado the property is in, there may be additional protections.
In Colorado, you must provide your tenant with 10 days' notice. Previously, the requirement for notice was 3 days, but was changed in May of 2019. Obviously, it's important to take note of this recent change, especially if you have been a landlord for years and are used to the notice requirement being only 3 days.
In the case of a failure to pay rent, you must provide a 10-day notice - a period of 10 days in which the tenant is permitted to pay rent - before you can go forward with eviction proceedings.
If the eviction is due to unpaid rent, the process starts with a 10 Day notice. While most leases have language that talks about when rent is due and when it’s late, the notice can be posted as soon as the rent is late. You will deliver or post in a visible location, usually on the entry door either a Demand of Compliance or Possession Notice (JDF 101) or the Notice to Quit (JDF 97).
These notices should also provide the reason for eviction to the tenant. Both forms can be downloaded at this link: https://www.courts.state.co.us.
Once notice has been served, the ten-day period must elapse. However, if the last day of this ten-day period is either a Saturday or Sunday or a legal holiday, the period will be extended an additional day. This means ten full days are required, not including weekends or holidays, after issuance of either a Demand of Compliance or a Notice to Quit before pursuing an eviction.
If the 10-day period elapses without a resolution, you'll continue the eviction process by filling out the Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer (JDF-99) form.
You'll also have to fill out the Summons in Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer form (CRCCP Form 1A) and the Answer Under Simplified Civil Procedure form (CRCCP Form 3). Of course, you'll have to pay filing fees of around $97, plus the cost of producing copies for the defendant or defendants along with the court.
Delivering these forms to the court requires some precise timing: make sure the Summons Complaint and Answer to the Defendant(s) are both submitted within one day of when the JDF-99 has been filed. These need to be sent with first-class mail and prepaid postage. Finally, a hearing can be scheduled by a court clerk within 1 to 2 weeks.
A summons will be issued to the tenant by a sheriff or private process server, or any qualified adult who has no ties to the eviction process. You will have to pay a service fee in the case of a sheriff or private process server, though the amount can vary.
Finally, we get to the actual court hearing. Should the tenant not respond to the summons, a summary judgment may be issued to the landlord. Expect a bit of a legal battle as the tenant might file a counterclaim (a response to the landlords’ allegations) or even request a trial by jury. Colorado also may require meditation with the tenant and landlord before the hearing.
Should the landlords' case win in court, they must then file for possession of property with a Motion for Entry of Judgement (JDF 104). You'll receive the Order for Entry of Judgement (JDF 107). The tenant must vacate the rental within 48 hours - if they don't, the landlord will need to fill out the caption on the Writ of Restitution (JDF 103) and deliver it to the court. Upon approval, the sheriff's office will forcibly remove the former tenant from the premises.
Here is a great infographic of how the eviction process works from our friends at, SparkRental.com
You'll have to remove all of the belongings with a crew while being supervised by law enforcement. If you don't expect your tenant to comply with an eviction order, it's best to make preparations to have a team ready to move everything out with boxes, tarps, trash bags, etc.
Colorado is unique when it comes to removing a former tenant's belongings when they had to be removed by force: you are not required to store the items. The former tenant has 15 days to retrieve the items and, if they don't, you are legally free to sell or discard them.
The Demand for Compliance is to be issued in cases where you want to give the tenant a chance to rectify the issue. They'll have 10 days in which to, for example, pay outstanding rent or reverse any violation of the lease agreement. Should they fail to make amends, you are then able to proceed with filing the forms necessary for eviction.
The Notice to Quit, on the other hand, can be used if you want the tenant removed as early as possible and don't want to give them the opportunity to rectify. The Notice to Quit is best used, for example, in the case of a tenant violating the law and can get them out in as little as 3 days.
You can expect to wait no longer than 2 weeks for a hearing after the filing process is completed. Of course, the length of it takes for the hearing to occur can be drawn out by appeals or continuances. Usually around one month is enough time for a completed eviction to occur, though it depends on so many factors.
The state of Colorado is a loser pays state: this means that, should you have a solid case and valid reason for evicting your tenant you can expect to pay reasonable court and attorney fees. However. you have to specify this in your lease in order to qualify for recovery.
The Colorado Eviction Process (or in any state for that matter) can be a difficult, but they aren't always. We hope we've shed some light on how it all works and what you need to know if you're considering evicting a tenant. If you file forms correctly and have a valid complaint against the tenant, the law should be on your side and the rental vacated as expediently as possible.