When evicting a tenant in Colorado, a landlord must carefully follow the rules and procedures set forth by Colorado law. Otherwise, the tenant may be able to claim that the eviction was unjustified or invalid. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in Colorado.
For a landlord to evict a tenant in Colorado before the tenant’s rental term has expired, the landlord must have legal cause. Colorado state law has defined legal cause as the tenant failing to pay rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing a serious act, such as a crime or violence toward another resident. To evict the tenant for one of these reasons, the landlord must first terminate the rental agreement or lease. This happens when the landlord gives the tenant a notice.
If the tenant has not paid rent or has violated the lease or rental agreement, then the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice. The tenant can either pay rent or fix the violation within the three days or move out of the rental unit. If the tenant does neither, then the landlord can terminate the lease or rental agreement and file an eviction lawsuit with the court (see Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 13-40-104(d) and (e)).
The tenant can also be evicted for committing more serious acts, such as violence toward another tenant, drug-related activity, or criminal activity at the rental unit or on the premises. If the landlord is evicting the tenant for any of these reasons, the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice to quit. This time, the tenant is not permitted to fix the violation. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by the end of three days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 13-40-104(d.5) and 13-40-107.5).
If a landlord does not have cause to evict a tenant, then the landlord must wait until the term of the lease or rental agreement expires before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord will still need to give the tenant notice.
If the landlord wants to end a month-to-month tenancy but does not have cause, then the landlord must give the tenant a seven-day notice to quit. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenancy will expire in seven days and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time; otherwise, the landlord will evict the tenant (see Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-40-107(1)(c)). Colorado Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has some more information on this topic.
If the landlord wants to evict a tenant with a fixed-term lease but does not have cause, then the landlord must simply wait until the lease has expired. In this case, the landlord does not need to give the tenant notice to quit unless the terms of the lease specifically require the landlord to do so. Otherwise, the landlord can expect the tenant to move by the end of the lease term.
Even though a landlord may have a valid legal reason to evict a tenant, the tenant may still choose to fight the eviction. The tenant could have a valid legal defense, such as, the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit or the landlord retaliating against the tenant. This decision to fight the eviction could increase the cost of the lawsuit or increase the amount of time the tenant has to remain in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Coloradohas more information.
The only person who is authorized to remove a tenant from the rental unit is a law enforcement officer. Under Colorado law, it is never legal for a landlord to attempt to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit, and the tenant could sue the landlord for trying. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Colorado has more information on this topic.
After an eviction, the landlord may find that the tenant has left behind personal belongings. Unlike most states, the landlord is not required to contact the tenant before disposing of the property. The property is considered abandoned, and the landlord an immediately dispose of it. If the landlord does choose to store the property until the tenant claims it, the landlord can charge the tenant the costs of the storage. However, the landlord is not liable to the tenant for any damage that may come to the property while the landlord is storing it (see Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-40-122). Handling a Tenant’s Abandoned Property in Colorado has more information on this topic.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Colorado law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.