Colorado Laws for Landlords
Over one-third of Colorado residents rent their homes. That may not seem like much, but owning a rental property can be a good business option in the state.
However, you need to know about Colorado laws for landlords. Then, you can make sure you comply with legal requirements when creating and enforcing your rental agreement.
Keep reading to learn more.
Rental License Laws
Some of the most important laws for landlords are those regarding rental licenses. Fortunately, Colorado rental laws don't require landlords to have a license.
However, you should also look at local landlord-tenant laws in Colorado. Private landlords may not need a license for the state, but you should consider where you plan to rent a property.
Then, you can make sure you can comply with local landlord legislation and other requirements.
For example, Denver requires a license for certain short-term rentals. Before you get a license, consider how long your lease will be and how you will rent the property.
As you expand to different cities, you should check with the local governments to learn about requirements. That way, you can remain legal as you manage your various properties.
Landlord-tenant laws also focus on discrimination and protected classes. In Colorado, landlords can't discriminate against potential tenants based on certain classes, such as:
- Marital status
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
However, Colorado landlord-tenant laws do allow you to discriminate against marital status to comply with zoning regulations. If a zoning ordinance restricts marital status, you can consider that when renting out a property in that zone.
Landlords can also look at credit history, rental history, and other factors to determine if a potential tenant is credible. Then, you can make sure you don't rent to people who aren't trustworthy.
Whether you own property in Denver or a small Colorado town, you should consider these discrimination laws when looking for tenants. That way, you can comply with landlord-tenant laws from the start.
Written Rental Agreement Requirement
Colorado laws for landlords only require a written rental agreement for leases lasting at least 12 months. The agreement outlines the terms of the lease, and it can protect you and your tenant.
Because of this, you should consider using a lease even for shorter rental agreements. Even though the state doesn't require it, you can use the written contract to protect yourself if a tenant refuses to leave.
Then, you don't have to worry about disagreements regarding eviction, a notice to leave, or squatters rights. Instead, you and your tenant can refer to the rental agreement when issues arise.
A written rental agreement includes your signature and that of your tenant. You can go over the agreement together to make sure both parties understand it.
While a written agreement can seem overboard for a short-term lease, you never know what can happen. Having one can help protect you when it comes to other landlord-tenant laws in Colorado.
What to Include in a Lease
When writing your rental agreement, you should review what Colorado laws require. Most lease agreements list the names of the owner and tenant.
The lease should also cover any occupancy conditions, such as who will live in the property. You should describe the property that you're leasing so that you have a record of its current condition.
Be sure to include the length of the lease, whether that's one month or one year. A lease should also cover who will be responsible for which utilities, such as water, gas, and heat.
You should also include the due date and amount of rent. That way, your tenant has it in writing, and you have a record of it as well. If you plan to charge a late fee, you can include that in the lease as well.
A lease can also include a list of your responsibilities as the landlord, such as repairs and maintenance. Similarly, you can include your tenant's responsibilities, such as keeping the property clean and not making too much noise.
If you want to prohibit certain things, such as animals or smoking, you can include that as well. You can outline where smoking is okay or not. And you can list the restrictions on pets if you allow some and not others.
Rental Agreement Disclosures
Your lease agreement also has to include certain disclosures. One example is the presence of lead paint in or around the property. While this is a federal regulation, federal laws for landlords still apply in a state like Colorado.
Another thing you must disclose is mold and if it has caused any damage to the structure of the property. Damage can include:
- Insect damage
- Roof condition
Colorado laws for landlords also require that you disclose if a methamphetamine lab has ever been on the property. It doesn't matter if the lab was there years, ago.
You must also disclose the source of the property's drinking water and if there are any current or upcoming transportation projects that could affect the property. If your property is in a special taxing district, you must include that.
A rental agreement also must include if the property is part of a common interest community. That way, the tenant can know if they may need to pay extra fees to live there.
While your tenant is responsible for some things, you should know what those things are as the landlord. Then, you can include those duties in your lease agreement.
If a tenant doesn't fulfill their duties, you may be able to provide a notice to vacate in Colorado law. Your tenants need to comply with local health and building codes to keep themselves and others safe.
They also need to dispose of garbage safely and legally, and they need to use the property reasonably. That means living in the property, but unreasonable uses could include conducting business.
Tenants are also responsible for keeping the property clean on a daily basis. They also can't do anything that would disturb their neighbors, especially if you own a duplex or a similar property.
A tenant must also ensure their guests also comply with these requirements. And whenever your tenant has any issues, they must notify you so that you can correct the problem.
Security Deposit Limit
Before a tenant moves in, you can charge them a security deposit. Fortunately, Colorado doesn't have any limitations regarding the amount the deposit can be.
You can set an amount based on the property's rent or value. And you can charge a security deposit for short-term or long-term leases. Then, you can hold onto that amount for the duration of the tenant's stay.
While you can use the money from the deposit, it's smart to keep it in a separate account. When the tenant moves out, you can make sure you have enough money to pay them back.
You can outline the terms of the security deposit, such as the amount and when you will return it, in your lease agreement. That way, you and your tenant both understand the terms, and you can use similar language if you ever buy property in another state, like Wyoming.
Security Deposit Return
When a tenant moves out, you must return it in a timely manner. Landlord-tenant laws give you a month to return the deposit after the end of a lease.
However, you can stipulate a longer return window in your lease of up to 60 days. Either way, you won't need to pay interest on the security deposit, so it will be the same amount the tenant paid you initially.
You should return the entire amount, though there are a few exceptions. If you don't return the security deposit, a tenant can sue you in small claims court.
When returning the deposit, you have a few options. Sending a check is the easiest option, but you can also agree to deposit the money into a tenant's bank account or give cash.
You can cover how you will return the deposit in your rental agreement. Then, you and your tenant have a written record of it.
Withhold a Security Deposit
Colorado lease laws allow you to withhold part or all of a security deposit in some situations. One way you can use the money is to cover unpaid rent from your tenant.
You can also use the money to cover repairs if property damage is more than what you expect from typical use. And if you need to pay for cleaning or other services to fix the unit, you can cover those costs with the security deposit.
If you withhold the security deposit, you will need to give the tenant a list of the charges. You need to itemize each charge and the cost of each item along with the total.
Then, your tenant can understand the charges and why you aren't giving them the full security deposit.
You can also do this with a pet deposit if you allow pets, and the rules for using the money are similar. As long as you use the money to fix pet-related damage, you can reduce the tenant's refund.
Notice to Change Agreement
If you will make any changes to the rental agreement, you must give your tenant enough notice. This applies to changes such as raising the rent or changing the services you offer to tenants.
The amount of notice you need to give depends on the length of the lease.
- Leases lasting a week or less require a one-day notice
- A weekly or month-to-month lease requires a 3-day notice in Colorado
- Seven days is the requirement for leases lasting one to six months
- A lease that is six months to a year requires a 28-day notice
- Year-long or longer leases require 91 days of notice
You should make these changes in writing and have your tenant sign them. After you reach the end of the notice period, you can implement the changes using the new agreement.
If you can give more notice, especially for shorter leases, that can be useful. Then, you can give your tenant time to agree to the new lease or decide to move. However, you don't have to give more than the minimum time.
Tenant Decision to Move Out
If a tenant decides to move out, you can ask for a notice to vacate in Colorado laws. Getting a written notice from the tenant gives you proof of their decision, so you can start looking for a new tenant.
And if your current tenant refuses to leave after their lease ends, you can give them an eviction notice in Colorado. You can require a 30-day notice to vacate in Colorado from your tenant.
That way, you won't have to worry about having a vacant property for too long. The notice doesn't have to be long or complex, but it should include when your tenant's lease will end and proof they are providing it.
If you don't have proof your tenant sent the notice, contact them. You should make sure no one else who would know about the agreement would send the notice instead.
Early Termination by Tenant
Another important piece of landlord legislation to understand is when tenants can terminate a lease. While breaking a lease isn't usually the best option, it may be necessary.
Just as you can evict tenants who don't comply with your lease, tenants can give a notice to quit living there. Consider a few situations when this can happen.
- Unit is uninhabitable
- Landlord harassment
- Needing to leave for active duty
Breaking a lease early in Colorado is also an option for tenants if your lease agreement includes an early termination clause. Now, you can decide if that clause is a good idea for your property.
In some cases, it can help you encourage tenants to move out early. However, it can make it more difficult to predict your rental income. Colorado doesn't have any laws either way, so it's up to you.
Either way, you can minimize early termination by finding good tenants and providing prompt service and repairs. Then, you can keep your tenants happy, and you can keep your rental properties up and running.
Move Out Inspection Notice
Whether the lease ends or a tenant leaves early, you can give them a notice of when you will conduct a move out inspection. However, you don't have to give the tenant notice.
Conducting an inspection will allow you to check for damage and figure out if any repairs are necessary. You should wait until the tenant moves out to do the inspection so that you don't miss anything.
However, if you have back-to-back leases, you may need to do it as the tenant moves out. In that case, it can be nice to give your tenant notice. Then, they can pack up as much as possible, and you can stay out of each other's ways.
Looking for New Tenants
Colorado laws for landlords also allow you to look for new tenants while a current tenant lives in one of your properties. However, you don't have to look for new tenants at this time.
Finding a new tenant early can keep your property in use, which can help you earn more in rental income. But it can be hard to search for a new tenant without showing them the unit.
While you can show the unit to new tenants, you have to consider safety and other regulations. That way, you can have your current tenant make sure the property looks good for you.
Whether you decide to wait or not, Colorado doesn't have any restrictions. Consider if you want to show off the property early or wait until it is free from a tenant.
In Colorado, tenants can withhold rent payments in certain situations. For example, if the property becomes uninhabitable and you don't fix it in a reasonable time, your tenant won't have to pay rent.
Because of this, you should do your best to fix issues as soon as possible. Floods, insect infestations, and gas leaks can all make a property unsafe for living.
If a property contains something dangerous or hazardous, that can be another reason a tenant can withhold rent. It's your responsibility to provide a livable space for your tenants.
However, your tenants are responsible for telling you about any issues that come up. You should ask tenants to give you notice when something happens so that you can fix it.
Another reason why tenants may withhold rent is if there's an eviction moratorium. Tenants can keep from paying rent if they need the money for other expenses.
Colorado laws for landlords don't require that you provide rent receipts. However, you may still want to offer proof that you have processed tenant rent payments.
While many people may use direct debit or checks to pay their rent, you may still have a tenant who uses a money order or cash. In that case, they won't know when you complete the payment.
Giving rent receipts can be nice so that you can maintain a good relationship with your tenants. Even if you don't give tenants the receipts, you should keep them for yourself.
That way, you can maintain a record of who pays their rent and when. Keeping these records will be especially crucial if you manage multiple properties with different tenants.
As a landlord, you are responsible for making unit repairs to keep the property in livable condition. Colorado law imposes a few requirements on landlords that you can follow to ensure habitability.
You should make sure that windows and doors work properly and that people can't break into the property through them. If a tenant informs you of an issue with bugs, you must provide extermination.
While you may not have common areas in all properties, they must be clean if you have them. You need to make sure the following are in working order and fix them if not:
- Gas fixtures
- Electric lights
- Heating fixtures
- Garbage disposal
- Water pipes
When it comes to the water supply, the water should be running, and your tenant should be able to get access to hot water. The access doesn't have to be constant, but it should be reasonable.
Your tenant should tell you if any of these things stop working so that you can repair them. If you don't fix them in a reasonable time, your tenant can pay for the repair themselves.
Then, the tenant can charge you up to $400 a month or $1,000 a year to reimburse those costs.
You can charge Colorado late rent fees, but you don't have to. Charging a late fee can be nice if you find tenants tend to put off paying their rent. Then, you can get the money sooner rather than later.
However, you may want to hold off on late fees. If you trust your tenants or find that they can't pay early in the month, a fee might not help. Consider when your tenants get their paycheck, and you can use that to set the due date.
That way, your tenants can get the money they need, and they can still pay you on time. You can then set a late fee if a tenant still refuses to pay you.
When charging rent, you can also include a grace period as part of your lease agreement. Like with late fees, you don't have to offer a grace period, but doing so can give tenants more time to pay before you charge a fee.
When to Evict
You may also want to know how to evict a tenant in Colorado. Now, you will have to give tenants three days to move out or pay rent before you officially file for eviction.
However, you can evict tenants immediately if they have had multiple violations of your lease agreement. In other cases, the first step in how to evict someone in Colorado is to offer an unconditional notice to quit the lease.
Whether you provide a 3-day notice or give more time, you can evict tenants for a few reasons.
- Failure to pay rent
- Violating one or more lease terms
- Not vacating the premise after a lease ends
- Other illegal activity not in the lease
Knowing how to evict someone can be useful if you ever experience issues. Then, you can get rid of a bad tenant, and this applies to Colorado eviction laws with no lease.
Colorado laws for landlords also focus on retaliation. Examples of retaliation include raising the rent or declining services you used to offer to the tenant.
You can't do these things when your tenant makes a complaint to you or a government agency in good faith. Before you rent out the property, you should learn as much as you can to understand these restrictions.
Colorado laws don't require you to change locks between tenants, but you can. You may also need to change the locks if a tenant loses their key.
However, your tenant can also request other locks and security features, such as a deadbolt lock. Other possible requests include:
- Window latch
- Window guards
- Security bar lock
- Pin lock
If a tenant requests any of these, you must fulfill the request in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, the laws don't stipulate a specific timeline for the change.
If you have a prospective tenant who uses a service animal, you can't use that as the reason for declining their application. However, you can create other requirements or restrictions for renting to people with pets.
You can decide to allow dogs, cats, and other animals. With dogs and cats, you can also restrict the maximum weight for an individual pet or a combination if someone has two or more.
And you can limit the number of pets someone can have when living on your property. Consider if your city has any restrictions on pets, so you can be sure to follow them.
If you decide to accept pets, you can charge a pet deposit and pet rent. The pet deposit can work like the regular security deposit, so you will hang onto the money until the tenant moves out.
You can also charge pet rent each month to cover more immediate expenses, such as carpet cleaning. That way, you don't have to worry about taking money from your profits.
Each month, you can charge pet fees with the regular rent payment. If a tenant gets a pet halfway through the month, you can charge them a portion of the regular pet rent.
The next month, you can start charging the full amount until the tenant moves out or proves they no longer have a pet.
Colorado landlord-tenant laws don't have any restrictions on subleasing, so you can decide if you want to allow it or not. By default, a lease in Colorado doesn't prohibit subleasing, so you will need to include a clause for it.
If you allow subleasing, your tenant will need to make sure the person who rents it from them complies with the lease. You can't unreasonably prohibit subleasing, but you can still control what any occupant can and can't do in your property.
Allowing subleasing can be complicated, so you may want to start off by prohibiting it. Then, you only have to worry about the tenants you find.
You can't control who your tenants sublease to, so you may end up with people who don't keep clean or quiet. Consider if it's worth the risk or if you don't want to allow subleasing.
Abandoned Property Law
Colorado abandoned property law covers you if a tenant leaves their belongings behind. You can consider property as being abandoned if a tenant leaves and doesn't contact you for 30 days.
If you don't see anything that makes you believe the tenant will come back, you can also consider the property abandoned. So if your tenant takes an extended leave, that wouldn't qualify for this law.
When someone leaves their stuff at your property, it can become yours after the 30 days. Then, you can decide to get rid of it so that you can clear out the unit and rent to a new tenant.
Extended Leave Notice
When a tenant plans to leave your property for a long period, you can request they give you notice. Not only will this tell you they aren't abandoning their belongings or trying to break the lease, but it can help you keep up with the property.
You can know that you may need to check on that unit more often to make sure everything looks good. Your tenant won't be there to tell you about a water leak or other problems.
Consider including a clause in your rental agreement regarding leave notices. You can require how much notice you need, such as if you need at least a week before the tenant leaves. That way, you can account for the change in your schedule.
As you learn about Colorado landlord-tenant laws, don't forget to research local laws. Even if Colorado allows something or doesn't have a statute for an issue, your city might be different.
Local and state laws can change, so you should stay up-to-date on them. Not only can you protect yourself and your tenants, but you can help others living and working in your city.
Reviewing Colorado Laws for Landlords
Understanding Colorado laws for landlords is essential for keeping your properties up and running. It can also protect you and your finances if you have a problematic tenant or experience other issues.
Whether you just bought your first rental property or are looking to expand, you should understand how these laws affect you. That way, you won't have to worry about losing everything.
Please understand that because of the nature of the topic, this page has been written in a generalized form. Further guidance should be sought on the topic being searched by the landlord. Questions? Contact us