Landlords and tenants will face legal issues during the rental process, but not every issue needs to involve the courts. This article will help you learn how your the laws in your state handles everything from security deposits to termination notices, so you can navigate these with ease.
This article is notintended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may vary by county or city. You are responsible to perform your own research and comply with all laws applicable to your unique situation.
If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord tenant law.
Official Rules and Regulations
- Colorado Revised Statutes Title 38 Article 12 – Tenants and Landlords
- City of Boulder – Landlord Tenant Handbook
- City of Fort Collins – Renting 101: Landlord Tenant Handbook (PDF)
- Denver Code of Ordinances – Chapter 27 – Housing
- Department of Local Affairs – Colorado Renter’s Guide (PDF)
- Security Deposit Maximum: No statute.
- Security Deposit Interest: No statute.
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute.
- Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute.
- Non-Refundable Security Deposit Allowed: No. The landlord must return the “full” deposit, unless there are reasons, as specified in statute, to withhold a portion or entirety the deposit. (C.R.S. 38-12-103(1))
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: One month, unless the landlord and tenant previously agreed to another deadline, which is never to exceed 60 days (C.R.S. 38-12-103). If hazardous conditions force the tenant to vacate the rental unit, the landlord must return the deposit within 72 hours (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and holidays) (C.R.S. 38-12-104).
- Permitted Uses of the Deposit: The landlord can withhold portions, or all, of the deposit to pay for past due rent, unpaid utilities, repair work needed for damages beyond normal wear and tear, cleaning that the tenant has contracted for, and “abandonment of the premises.” (C.R.S. 38-12-103(1)).
- Security Deposit Can Be Withheld: Yes. See statute for specific language. (C.R.S. 38-12-103(1)).
- Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes. If there is “actual cause” to retain the deposit, the landlord must give the tenant “a written statement listing the exact reasons for the retention of any portion of the security deposit.” The statement must be accompanied with the remaining balance of the deposit. The written statement and the deposit must be mailed to the tenant’s last known address. (C.R.S. 38-12-103(1)).
- Receipt of Security Deposit: No statute.
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute.
- Failure to Comply: If the landlord fails to provide the tenant the written notice of withholdings and other required information within the time limit, the landlord forfeits all rights to withhold any portion of the security deposit. (C.R.S. 38-12-103(2)) If a landlord wrongfully withholds the deposit, the tenant can recover up to three times the amount of the deposit, plus “reasonable” attorney fees and court costs. (C.R.S. 38-12-103(2) and (3a))
Lease, Rent & Fees:
- Rent is Due: No statute.
- Rent Increase Notice: The landlord must give “at least” twenty-one days’ notice to the tenant, but only if the tenant has been living in the rental unit for between one month and six months and there is no written agreement between the landlord and tenant. (C.R.S 38-12-701)
- Late Fees: No statute.
- Application Fees: No statute.
- Prepaid Rent: No statute.
- Returned Check Fees: No statute.
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, with restrictions. See the statute for more specific information. (C.R.S. 38-12-507)
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes. (C.R.S. 38-12-507(c))
- Self-Help Evictions: No, the State Board of Health initiates the eviction for the purposes of cleaning up an illegal drug laboratory, or is there is mutual consent between the landlord and tenant. (C.R.S. 38-12-510)
- Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes, the prevailing party can recover “reasonable” attorney fees and costs. (C.R.S. 38-12-507(2))
- Restrictions on Handling Abandoned Property: Yes (C.R.S. 38-20-116)
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: No. Under the “benefit of the bargain” rule, an innocent landlord is entitled to recover only the amount of damages required to place the rental unit in the same position the unit would have occupied had the tenant performed according to the terms of the lease. (See Schneiker v. Gordon, 732 P.2d 603 (Colo. 1987)).
Notices and Entry:
- Notice to Terminate a Lease with a Fixed End Date: No notice is needed as the lease simply expires. (C.R.S. 13-40-107(4))
- Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease: 91 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107(1(a)))
- Notice to Terminate a Lease – 6 Months or Longer, but Less than 1 Year: 28 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107(1)(b))
- Notice to Terminate a Lease – 1 Month or Longer, but Less than 6 Months: 21 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107(1)(c))
- Notice to Terminate a Lease – 1 Week or Longer, but Less than 1 Month: 3 days (C.R.S. 13-40-107(1)(d))
- Notice to Terminate a Lease – Less than 1 Week: 1 day: (C.R.S. 13-40-107(1)(e))
- Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute.
- Notice of Termination for Nonpayment: 3 days (C.R.S. 13-40-104(1)(d))
- Notice for Lease Violation: 3 days to remedy or quit (C.R.S. 13-40-104) and (C.R.S. 220.127.116.11). Repeat violations are grounds for immediate lease termination. (C.R.S. 13-40-104(e)(5))
- Required Notice before Entry: No statute
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): No statute
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No statute, but reasonable entry during an emergency is always allowed.
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute.
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Showing the Property: No statute.
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
- Lockouts Allowed: No, and the tenant can sue for damages (C.R.S. 38-12-510)
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No, and tenant can sue for damages (C.R.S. 38-12-510)
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:
- Name and Addresses: No statute.
- Copy of the Lease: No statute.
- Domestic Violence Situations (C.R.S. 38-12-402):
- Landlords cannot terminate the lease of tenants who are victims of domestic violence. (C.R.S. 13-40-107.5(c)(I))
- Landlord may require proof of domestic violence status. (C.R.S. 38-12-402(2))
- The tenant may terminate a lease early in special circumstances involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence, but the tTenant may be responsible for paying one extra month’s rent, which must be paid within 90 days of vacating the premise. (C.R.S. 38-12-402(-2))
- In residential rental agreements or lease agreements, landlords shall not a provision authorizing the landlord to terminate the agreement or to impose a penalty on a tenant if the tenant calls a peace officer assistance or for other emergency assistance in response to a domestic violence situation. (C.R.S. 38-12-402(1))
- Adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA): No. Landlord is not required to look for or rent to a new tenant while previous tenant still has an active lease.
- Landlord’s Duties (C.R.S. 38-12-505):
- Providing waterproofing and other weather protection of a unit’s roof and exterior walls, which will be maintained in good working order, including unbroken windows and doors;
- Providing plumbing or gas facilities that conform to applicable law that is in effect at the time of installation and are maintained in good working order;
- Providing running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, which is furnished to appropriate fixtures and is connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law;
- Providing functioning heating facilities that conform to applicable law that is in effect at the time of installation and are maintained in good working order;
- Providing electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that conform to applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order;
- Keep common areas and areas under the control of the landlord reasonably clean, sanitary, and free from accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, and garbage, and provide appropriate extermination in response to the infestation of rodents or vermin;
- Appropriate extermination in response to the infestation of rodents or vermin throughout a residential premises;
- Provide an adequate number of appropriate exterior receptacles, in good repair, to dispose of garbage and rubbish;
- Maintain floors, stairways, and railings in good repair;
- Maintain, in good working order, all locks on all exterior doors and locks or security devices on windows designed to be opened.
- Comply with all applicable building, housing, and health codes, which would constitute a dangerous or hazardous condition to a tenant’s life, health, or safety if violated.
- No deficiency in the common area shall render a residential premises uninhabitable as set forth in the statute , unless it materially and substantially limits the tenant’s use of the dwelling unit.
- Tenant’s Duties (C.R.S. 38-12-504):
- Comply with obligations imposed upon tenants by any provisions of building, health, and housing codes that materially affect health and safety,
- Keep the dwelling unit “reasonably” clean, safe, and sanitary as the rental units’ condition permits,
- Dispose of all ashes, garbage, and other waste from the unit in a manner that is clean, sanitary, and legally compliant,
- Reasonably use all utilities and facilities, including electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and elevators,
- Conduct himself or herself and require other persons in the residential premises within the tenant’s control to conduct themselves in a manner that doesn’t disturb their neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the neighbors’ dwelling unit; or
- Promptly notify the landlord if the residential premises is uninhabitable or if there is a condition that could result in the premises becoming uninhabitable if not remedied.
- Retaliation: A landlord shall not increase the rent or decrease services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession in response to the tenant making good faith complaints to the landlord or to a governmental agency alleging a breach of the warranty of habitability. (C.R.S. 38-12-509)
- Small Claims Court Limits: $7,500 (C.R.S. 13-6-403(1))
- Eviction Cases Allowed: No (C.R.S. 13-6-403(2)(c))
- Colorado Small Claims Court – Local Practices
- Colorado Small Claims Rules (PDF)
- Colorado Small Claims Handbook (PDF)
- Colorado Judicial Branch
- Colorado Attorney General
- Colorado State Bar Association
- Colorado Legal Services
- Business License required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
State agencies & regulatory bodies
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Colorado
- Colorado Division of Insurance
- Colorado Consumers Guide to Insurance
- Colorado Affordable Housing Guide (PDF)
- Colorado Homeowners Assistance Programs
- Colorado Division of Local Affairs – Housing (also known as the Colorado Division of Housing)
- Colorado Division of Real Estate
- Colorado Housing Finance Administration
- Colorado Housing Authorities–H.U.D.
- Housing Choice Voucher Program–Department of Local Affairs
- Boulder Housing Partners
- Denver Housing Authority
- Housing Catalyst (the Fort Collins Housing Authority)