The Landlord-Tenant Handbook
The Landlord-Tenant Handbook provides information for both landlords and tenants regarding residential property rentals. This information does not constitute legal advice; it is intended to serve as a guide and is not to be used as a substitute for counsel from a qualified attorney.
Hard copies are available upon request at the main library 1001 Arapahoe Avenue. Or leave a message at 303-441-4364 with your name and mailing address.
Before You Sign a Lease
A lease is a legally binding contract; understand the key points to consider before you sign.
- Read the lease and understand it: There is no such thing as a standard lease; different landlords use different lease contracts. If you don't understand something the way it's written or would like to review the lease before you sign it, ask your landlord.
- Know the duration and your obligations: If you sign a year lease and only stay for 9 months you may still be responsible for all of the rent or for finding a sub-tenant. Assuming you will be able to find someone to take your place is risky. You may be able to negotiate with your landlord for a shorter term lease.
- Know your roommates: If you sign a lease with others, you are liable to your landlord for your roommate's share of the rent if they fail to pay. Make sure your roommates are reliable and intend to stay for the entire term. Come to an understanding with your roommates and put it in writing regardless of how well you know each other. Your landlord may be willing to sign individual leases with each tenant.
- Make sure you understand who is responsible for repairs: A landlord only has to make repairs if the lease says they are responsible. If your lease doesn't have a clause like this, discuss adding one with your landlord. The clause should clarify who is paying for what type of repairs.
- Don't rely on spoken promises: If your landlord promises to make improvements such as paint, carpet or repairs, get these promises in writing before the lease is signed. Specify the date the repair or improvement will be completed by. If your landlord says they won't hold you to a certain clause in the lease, cross it out and have both parties initial the change.
- Things may be negotiable: Renters have some bargaining power. If the rent is high or the house is in disrepair and there are certain things you want included in or excluded from the lease, discuss these points with your landlord. If you agree on changes put them in writing on the lease and have all parties initial the change. Changes or additions to the lease terms can be made at any time during the lease term but only if all parties agree, and assuming these changes are legal.
Can my landlord come into my apartment whenever they feel like it? What is normal wear and tear? The landlord has not returned my security deposit, what do I do? For answers to these and other commonly asked questions see our Landlord-Tenant FAQs.
Preventing Roommate Disputes
Peaceful co-existence among roommates doesn’t always happen by accident. Steps can be taken to prevent common household tensions and address situations when they occur. See our guidelines for avoiding roommate disputes.
Mediation for Dispute Resolution
Interest on Security Deposits
The City of Boulder legally requires that landlords return interest on the security deposits they hold for their tenants. The interest rate for 2021 is .07%. To view rates from previous years and for more information on how to determine the amount see our calculation formula.