Eviction FAQ

Joint and several liability means that all the tenants on a lease are responsible for all the rent and all of the damages, regardless of how they divide rent and other financial issues and responsibilities among themselves. If one person does not pay the rent, the other tenants are liable for that share of the rent, or they are all subject to eviction for non-payment of rent. It is up to the tenants, not the landlord, to collect from the non-paying tenant. However, how eviction is handled is up to the individual landlord, as long as they comply with Colorado State Statutes and Boulder Municipal Codes, and the landlord may allow some alternative solution to the problem, such as replacing the delinquent tenant with a new tenant on the lease. A landlord may also choose to evict one tenant on a lease. Tenants cannot evict other tenants (although in sublease situations, they may be able to--an attorney should be consulted in this situation).

If you have violated a term of your lease there is a process that the landlord has to go through to have their tenants evicted. They first must post a ten day notice (see links below for forms) on the tenant's door stating that they must comply with the lease terms or move out. The tenant then has ten days to comply with the term of the lease the landlord noted ("fix" the problem), or leave the premises. If the tenant remains but does not fix the problem, then the landlord may file for eviction in court (officially known as Forced Entry and Detainer, or FED Court). If the tenant has received repeated ten day notices, or if the lease violation is extremely serious, the landlord does not have to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the problem, and they can proceed with eviction if the tenant has not voluntarily vacated the property in ten days.

If the landlord files an eviction suit, the tenant will be notified of the court date and then both tenant and landlord will go court to provide their sides of the story. The judge will then rule for or against eviction or, if more information is needed to make a decision, they will set a hearing date, generally within one week's time. If the judge rules for eviction, the tenant must vacate the premises within 48 hours. If the tenant does not vacate within 48 hours, the landlord can call the sheriff and conduct a supervised move-out of the tenant's belongings and physically remove the tenant from the property.

It is illegal for a landlord to remove a tenant or lock them out of their property without first going through the eviction process.

Any party who fails to appear for their hearing in eviction court will likely receive a ruling against them. Tenants should make every effort to come to their court date as they will often be given a chance to negotiate a better outcome with the landlord or the landlord's representative.

No. If you get evicted, the eviction goes on your record, will appear in background checks and will most likely make it difficult for you to rent in the future. In addition, eviction may not release the tenant from the terms of the lease. The tenant may still be responsible for paying rent to the landlord until the landlord can re-rent the property.

Entry & Repairs FAQ

Generally, reasonable notice should be given unless there is an emergency. Reasonable notice is usually defined as 24 hours. However, unless it is specifically stated in the lease, there is no specific time period that the landlord must give to come into their property. This is something that the landlord and the tenant should work out together, preferably before the lease is signed.

Generally not; the duty of the tenant to pay rent does not depend on the landlord's duty to maintain the premises. You can be evicted for not paying rent. You can try to negotiate with the landlord over the time frame when things will be fixed, possible compensation for the inconvenience, or compensation for failure to fulfill conditions as promised. If you are not comfortable with or are unable to negotiate in person or over the phone, another option is to write a letter.

The letter should clearly state the problem you would like fixed, the time frame for fixing it, and any help you can provide to make that happen (i.e.. when the unit will be available for repair people to get in, etc.). If the landlord is not responsive to requests for maintenance or repairs, you may want to check with an attorney for other options or call Rental Licensing (if the property is located in the City of Boulder) to see if the maintenance issue violates city codes. The phone number for Rental Licensing is 303-441-3152.

If conditions are extreme or severe and long term you should talk to an attorney about options for remedy or termination and rent obligations.

If you have other questions or would like to speak with someone in person about a particular problem or issue, please call the Community Mediation Service at 303-441-4364. The Community Mediation Service provides information on tenant/landlord, neighbor/neighbor, and roommate matters. We can discuss your options for resolution including low or no cost mediation for people who live in the City of Boulder. Because the Community Mediation Service is a City of Boulder office and funded exclusively by the residents of Boulder, mediation services cannot be provided to people who live outside the city limits. Mediators are not attorneys and do not offer legal advice.

You cannot make repairs and deduct your costs without the permission of the landlord.

Lease and Lease Termination FAQ

A lease is a legally binding contract. Nothing, including moving to another state, medical hardships, or even death, terminates the lease, unless the lease has a clause specifically stating that such an event will terminate the lease. Check your lease for conditions of early termination such as how and when the landlord is to be notified, future financial obligations or expectations around finding subtenants. A tenant who stops paying rent in violation of their lease may be sued in court or turned over to a collections agency. If terms are not specified in the lease, early termination may be negotiable with the landlord independently or through mediation.

No, as soon as you signed the lease you created a contractual agreement between you and the landlord. There is no grace period to back out of the lease.

When there is no written lease and has never been a written lease, the State of Colorado assumes a month-to-month tenancy. To terminate this type of month-to-month lease, either the tenant or the landlord must give the other 21 days written notice before the end of the current rental month. If an old lease has run out and a new one was never signed, the contract is automatically rolled over into a month to month lease. Most of the terms of the original lease still apply, including the amount of notice either the tenant or landlord must give to end the lease, (which may be longer than the default minimum required by law of 21 days), who is responsible for maintenance and repairs, and the date rent is due.

The lease is still a binding contract to the new owners unless stated otherwise in the lease. However, the owner (current or new) and the tenant may negotiate a different outcome that is mutually agreeable to both of them.

No. A lease is a binding contract between two or more entities. Lack of a rental license does not void a lease contract, unless the unit is an "illegal dwelling unit" and under no circumstances could be legally rented.

A tenant experiencing extreme health and safety issues in their rental property that the landlord will not remedy and who will not allow the tenant to terminate the lease and move out should speak to an attorney about their options for ending the lease and vacating the property. Tenants may NOT expect to withhold rent or pay a reduced rent of their own choosing and continue living in the property indefinitely. If the landlord fails to make repairs that would make the premises habitable and will not release you from your lease contract, you may be able to vacate the property without penalty under the Warranty of Habitability Act or by a means called "constructive eviction." Again, a tenant should get legal guidance prior to exercising these remedies: both involve a specific timetable for requesting repairs and proper methods for notification of intent to leave the premises, among other critical requirements.

After the original lease term expires, landlords are under no obligation to re-lease to the tenant, nor is the tenant obligated to sign a new contract, unless otherwise specified in writing. However it is a practical matter for both parties to know the other's intentions in advance. Tenants may like to know if staying for another year is an option. Landlords are typically motivated to keep their rental properties filled. They CAN ask tenants, months in advance, if they plan to renew their lease and sometimes a deadline to renew is even written into the lease. Landlords should be reasonable in their demand for a commitment from the tenant. But once a lease contract is signed, it is binding, whether it is the original lease or a renewal. Be certain that you would like to stay in the property for the time and conditions outlined in the lease prior to signing any lease document. An understanding of the terms of the lease relating to early termination can help prevent problems when the future is uncertain.

A month-to-month lease is a rental agreement for a one-month period which is renewed automatically each month for another month until properly terminated by either party. If someone previously had a lease which was not renewed, but the individual remained a renter with the landlord's consent then the lease is considered to have rolled over into a month-to-month lease. The terms for termination and other rights and obligations established in the expired written lease will usually still be applicable unless revised with the knowledge of all parties. Notice of intent to terminate should be given by mailing or hand-delivering a copy of the notice to the landlord.

Unless otherwise stated in writing, to properly terminate a month-to-month lease, written notice of intent to terminate must be given at least 21 days before the last day of the rental month which has already been paid--the day the notice is given does not count in the 21 day period. In a written lease for example, start from the day when the rent is due then count back 21 days.

Move-Out FAQ

Unless specifically stated in the lease or otherwise agreed upon, the tenant is responsible to return the property in at least as good a condition as it was when they moved in, excluding normal wear and tear. It is common and acceptable for a lease to require the tenant to pay for carpet cleaning by a professional service when they move out, or for such a cost to be deducted from the security deposit. If the tenant is uncomfortable with this requirement they should negotiate with the landlord prior to signing the lease to see if there is flexibility on this matter.

Normal wear and tear includes deterioration of the premises that occurs during normal conditions, usually over time. For example, paint may fade, electrical switches may stop working or the plastic switch plates may crack, pull strings on blinds may fray or break, carpet may wear down, especially in high traffic areas, grout may dry up and come loose. These types of things happen even if the tenant cleans regularly and takes reasonable care of the property and uses the property appropriately for its intended purpose.

Damage occurs from unreasonable use or accidents, negligence or carelessness. Damage can include extreme build up of dirt, mold, etc., stains on carpets, and broken windows. Even intentional alterations to the premises without the landlord's written permission are considered damage. For example, the tenant cannot leave holes in the walls from shelving or hanging pictures and cannot repaint the walls to significantly change the color. If a tenant wants to make changes to the premises that will remain after the tenant moves out, the tenant should do so only after discussing these changes with the landlord and receiving permission in writing. If desired, the landlord should specify their expectations of the type of work to be done, e.g. "painted to a professional standard without drips or smears," or, "curtain rods to be mounted using heavy-duty wall anchors."

To avoid later disputes, the parties should take steps at the beginning of the lease term to document the current condition of the property. The tenant should inspect the premises thoroughly and note all problems in writing on a check in/check out form. Cleanliness should be assessed as well. Both the tenant and the landlord should sign and date the list. At the end of the lease, the tenant should again inspect the premises, ideally with the landlord present, to discuss any damage, assess the cleanliness and compare conditions to the move in checklist. Tenants may wish to further document conditions both before and after their tenancy with photographs or videos.The landlord is not required to be present to do walkthroughs with the tenant but it is generally a good practice to do so. Landlords may wish to provide tenants with a list of expectations for cleanliness on move out, such as, "range hood free of dust and grease," or, "bathroom grout free of mold and mildew." The general expectation for cleanliness is that the property should be left in a condition at least as good as it was found, less normal wear and tear.

The following list is by no means comprehensive, but is intended as a guide to reasonable interpretation of the differences between expected wear and tear from normal residential use and accidental or intentional actions that cause damage to a landlord's property. It is important to note that tenants should report condition issues promptly because failure to do so may result in more damage, such as an unreported leak in the roof that in turn ruins drywall and carpeting, and may become the tenant's responsibility.

WEAR & TEAR

DAMAGES/NEGLIGENCE

Worn out keys

Lost keys

Loose or stubborn door lock

Broken or missing locks

Loose hinges or handles on doors

Damage to a door from forced entry

Worn and dirty carpeting

Stained or burned carpeting

Carpet seam unglued

Torn carpeting from sliding heavy furniture

Scuffed up wood floors

Badly scratched or gouged wood floors

Linoleum worn thin

Linoleum with tears or holes

Worn or faded countertop

Burns and cuts in countertop

Stain on ceiling from rain or bad plumbing

Stain on ceiling from overflowed tub

Plaster cracks from settling

Holes in walls from hanging pictures

Faded, chipped or cracked paint

Unapproved or sloppy tenant paint job, hand prints on walls

Loose wallpaper

Ripped or marked-up wallpaper

Curtain rod coming loose from wall

Curtain rod bent

Faded curtains and drapes

Torn or missing curtains and drapes

Heat blistered blinds

Blinds with bent slats

Dirty window or door screens

Holes or tears in screens

Sticky window

Broken window

Tile grout or caulk coming loose

Mold on grout or caulk

Toilet runs or wobbles

Broken toilet seat or tank top

Urine odor on grout around toilet

Urine or pet odor throughout unit

Closet bi-fold door off track

Hole in bi-fold door

This wear and tear information was adapted from Rental Housing On Line

Security Deposit FAQ

The 2021 interest rate on tenant security deposits is 0.07 percent.

Under Colorado law landlords have 30 days to return the security deposit or an accounting of the deductions explaining why the full deposit is not being returned. This can be extended up to 60 days but it must be written in the original lease. Landlords may choose to send the statement by certified mail or other trackable methods. If the landlord exceeds the time frame to return the deposit, they lose the right to withhold any money and must return the full amount but they can still sue for damages at a later time.

If you have fulfilled all the requirements of the lease and have left the property in a condition at least as good as you found it, less normal wear and tear, you are entitled to your entire security deposit. If you disagree with the amount the landlord retained, you should first try to negotiate a return of the portion you feel is fair. It's helpful to provide documentation that supports your position, such as photographs, a check in/out sheet, etc. If the landlord still doesn't return an amount you are satisfied with you can call the mediation service to see if the situation is appropriate for mediation. If mediation is not appropriate or the other party doesn't want to mediate, you can write a seven-day demand letter stating that if you do not receive your security deposit within seven days, you will sue them for three times the amount of money withheld (treble damages). If you still do not receive the money you are asking for and want to pursue the matter, you may file a law suit. In order to receive treble damages, you must prove in court both willful and wrongful intent on the part of the landlord.

The receipts and/or estimates for repairs should be retained, but they do not have to be sent to the tenant with the initial statement. However, if the tenant challenges the deductions and requests the receipts and/or estimates the landlord has the burden of providing them to demonstrate that the deductions were fair and proper. Deductions should be based on reasonable costs that can be demonstrated if necessary, such as professional repair estimates and merchandise receipts, or verification of typical hourly rates for cleaning services or contractors in the Boulder area.

Landlords may only deduct the depreciated value of damaged items, (and for the labor to perform the repairs), not the full replacement value of the item, unless the item was brand new. Depreciated value can be hard to determine but it is usually a function of original cost, life expectancy, and age.

The security deposit can be used for any of the following:

  • Unpaid rent or utility bills owed by the tenant
  • Payment for damages to the premises beyond "normal wear and tear"
  • Cleaning the tenant agreed to in the lease, such as professional carpet cleaning. If not specified in the lease, the property should be returned to the condition in which it was received, less normal wear and tear
  • Any other breach of the lease causing property or financial damage to the landlord

"Normal wear and tear" is defined by Colorado law to mean "that deterioration which occurs based upon the use for which the rental unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattel by the tenant or members of his household or their invitee or guests."

A tenant may not use the security deposit for last month's rent except by written permission of the landlord. The security deposit exists to cover any damages, unpaid rent, utility bills and other financial burden caused by the tenant during the course of their tenancy. Tenants who use the security deposit for last month's rent without permission may be sued for damages or may experience other financial impacts.