When a tenant fails to pay rent, a landlord must take specific steps under Colorado landlord-tenant law to force the tenant to either pay the rent due or move out of the rental property. Colorado law prohibits "self-help" eviction remedies; this means the landlord cannot take personal action to remove the tenant from the rental property, such as entering the home and changing the locks, without obtaining a court order (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-40-101). The first step a landlord must take to evict a tenant who has not paid rent is to serve the tenant with a written demand for right to possession of the rental property under Colorado state law (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-40-106).
This article explains the basics of evicting a tenant in Colorado for nonpayment of rent. It discusses the written demand that gives tenants notice of the right to pay the rent rather than face an eviction lawsuit.
If the tenant does not pay rent on the day rent is due according to the lease or rental agreement, the landlord may serve the tenant with a notice to terminate the lease called a written demand. This written demand states that the tenant must either pay the rent due or move out of the rental property within three days of the notice (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-40-104(1)(d)).
The landlord must include the following information when drafting a written demand for nonpayment of rent:
Once the written demand is drafted and signed by the landlord, the landlord may serve the written demand on the tenant by delivering it to the tenant using one of the following methods:
The landlord should keep a copy of the written demand and make a record of to whom and the date of when the landlord served the written demand. This information will be needed if the tenant fails to comply with the written demand and the landlord is then forced to take further action by filing an eviction lawsuit in court.
The tenant's response to a written demand may have different consequences:
A useful resource for landlords and tenants is the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing or Colorado Legal Services for self-help legal information. Also, landlords and tenants both will find The Colorado Renter's Guide useful for a complete overview of tenant's rights and responsibilities.
For more eviction-related articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site. And if you want a lawyer's advice on evicting a tenant, see the list of Colorado landlord-tenant lawyers in Nolo's Lawyer Directory.