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.
Under What Circumstances Can a Tenant Be Evicted in Colorado?
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 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.
What Reasons are Not Sufficient to Pursue 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.
How Much Notice Am I Required to Provide?
In Colorado, you must provide your tenant with 10 days’ notice – up until May 20, 2019, the requirement for notice was 3 days. 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.
What Does the Colorado Eviction Process Look Like?
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). We’ll discuss the differences between them below. 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
What Do I Do with the Tenant’s Belongings if They’re Removed by a Sheriff?
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.
What’s the Difference Between a Demand of Compliance (JDF 101) and the Notice to Quit (JDF 97)?
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.
How Long Will the Colorado Eviction Process Take?
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.
What About Payment?
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.