Changes Coming for Colorado Landlords and Tenants

Changes Coming for Colorado Landlords and Tenants

Jul 16, 2019

Client Alert

Brownstein Client Alert, July 16, 2019

Colorado’s 2019 legislative session ended with numerous changes impacting the rights and obligations of residential landlords and tenants. Some of these changes are discussed below. These summaries, however, are not exhaustive, so if these laws apply to you, we recommend you contact us to discuss additional details of these new laws.

HB19-1118: Extended Notice Before a Residential Eviction
Effective immediately, Colorado landlords must provide 10-days’ notice, not the long-standing three-day notice, to cure a default before initiating evictions of residential tenants. This new notice period applies to defaults for unpaid rent and to tenants’ first violation of non-monetary lease provisions. It does not apply to commercial leases, employer-provided housing, or to situations involving “substantial violations,” which generally include acts endangering the health or safety of other tenants. Landlords with residential tenants should take steps to modify their leases to include the new 10-day notice period.

The statute makes an exception for landlords who own five or fewer single-family homes. Those landlords may now provide a five-day notice, but only if the lease explicitly states that because the landlord fits this exception, the tenant is only entitled to five days’ notice. The new law does not define single-family home, so it remains unclear whether landlords owning five or fewer apartments in a single building are entitled to the shorter five-day notice period.

HB19-1170: Changes to the Warranty of Habitability
Effective Aug. 2, 2019, the warranty of habitability will be expanded to make it easier for residential tenants to seek relief when faced with certain conditions affecting the habitability of their premises. The expanded warranty applies to situations where residential premises are either uninhabitable or where conditions materially interfere with the tenant’s life, health or safety. Before this bill passed, “uninhabitable residential premises” were defined as premises that lacked, among other things, running water, electrical lighting or functioning heating facilities. Now, the definition of uninhabitable residential premises includes premises where mold or other conditions causing the premises to be damp are present. In situations where those conditions are present and where landlords fail to remediate the problem, or when landlords fail to comply with applicable housing, health and building codes, those situations will be found to materially interfere with the tenant’s life, health or safety.

Landlords breach the warranty of habitability if they: 1) receive written or electronic notice of conditions rendering the premises uninhabitable and 2) fail to initiate reasonable remedial actions within specified time periods. Landlords must respond to the tenant’s written or electronic notice within 24 hours, indicating the landlord’s intentions for remedying the condition and the time estimates for commencement and completion. When landlords must initiate reasonable remedial actions depends on the conditions that are affecting the habitability of the premises. For example, landlords must commence remedial actions within 24 hours after receiving notice that premises lack running water.

In addition to injunctive relief and damages tenants may seek in court, the expanded law permits tenants in some situations to deduct from rent the costs of repairing the condition that constituted the breach of the warranty of habitability.

HB19-1106: Rental Application Fees
Effective Aug. 2, 2019, landlords are prohibited from charging different rental applications fees to prospective tenants who are applying to rent the same unit. If landlords are offering more than one unit at the same time, then the application fee must be the same for all units. Further, landlords may not charge rental application fees that exceed the actual costs of screening a prospective tenant. Landlords must therefore provide either a disclosure of the anticipated expenses for which the fee will be used or a receipt of expenses to the prospective tenant. If an application is not considered, landlords must refund the application fee. Additionally, when prospective tenants are denied housing, landlords must now explain the basis of the denial. Landlords are prohibited from considering: (1) rental or credit history older than seven years, (2) any arrests that did not result in conviction, and (3) criminal convictions older than five years except where the conviction relates to homicide, to crimes requiring registration as a sex offender, or to crimes involving possession or distribution of methamphetamine.

Landlords who violate the statute may be liable for three times the amount of the fees assessed plus costs and reasonable attorney fees.

HB19-1309: Mobile Home Park Oversight
This new law creates an administrative process within the Division of Housing where mobile home park tenants may seek relief if their rights are violated, though the bill does not require tenants to exhaust their administrative remedies before suing landlords in court. Landlords may also initiate eviction proceedings in court despite ongoing administrative proceedings. The bill also expands the required period for curing late payments from five days to 10 and the time for moving a mobile home following an eviction from two days to 30 days, with an option to prepay for additional days—up to 30 more.

This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding bills passed during Colorado’s 2019 legislative session that may impact residential tenants and landlords. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions.

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