Landlord Eviction Process in Colorado: A Comprehensive Guide
The eviction process in Colorado is uniform in all counties, despite variations in legal fees and court proceedings. A landlord who wishes to evict a tenant must issue a written notice. Without the notice, a court could easily declare the process illegal.
Unfortunately, many landlords in Colorado choose to bypass the provisions of the law and instead carry out self-help evictions. After reading this comprehensive guide to the Colorado eviction process, you will have no problem with that.
Reasons for Eviction in Colorado
There are several reasons why Colorado landlords may evict their landlords. They include failure to pay rent, violation of a lease or rental agreement, conducting illegal activity, or failure to renew a lease upon its expiration.
1. Failure to Pay Rent When It Falls Due
Paying rent on time is one of the tenant’s most significant obligations. In some cases, the lease agreement could provide a grace period. A landlord must issue an eviction notice to pay or quit if the tenant fails to pay rent.
Eviction notices may last for a few days or months, based on the type of tenancy. If the tenant pays rent before the end of the notice period, the eviction process stops there. Otherwise, the landlord may commence the formal eviction process by going to a county court.
2. Violation of Lease or Rental Agreement
During the lease term, both the landlord and tenant must uphold the lease agreement. That’s because no two lease agreements are the same. Instead, they have unique provisions based on the tenant.
The Notice Period
According to Colorado law, a landlord may issue a notice to comply whenever a tenant commits clear lease violations. Of course, the tenant may fix the lease violation during the notice period. Eviction notices specify how long that would be. Any of the following is possible:
10-day notice to comply or quit for a first-time lease violation
10-day notice to quit for repeat lease violations
5-day notice for an exempt residential agreement
3-day notice to quit for substantial violations
Common Lease Violations
Not every lease violation may lead to a Colorado landlord issuing a notice to quit. However, the following are instances when that may constitute a substantial violation and could result in a tenant’s final notice to quit:
Causing damage to the rental property
Keeping an unauthorized pet on the rental property
Staying longer than allowed by the lease agreement
Having more than the allowed number of residents in the rental unit
Where there was a notice to remedy the situation or quit, a tenant can avoid eviction by taking corrective measures, such as getting rid of a pet. If not, the landlord may commence eviction proceedings in court.
However, if there was an express notice to quit, the tenant must comply within the notice period. The tenant may use short-term rental insurance to comply with their obligations. Otherwise, Colorado law allows a landlord to file an eviction lawsuit to evict the tenant legally.
3. Conducting Criminal Acts
If a tenant commits a criminal act within the rental unit, the landlord must issue a three-day notice to quit. According to the Colorado eviction laws, the following are the common illegal activities that could warrant such a notice:
A drug-related felony such as the creation, consumption, or distribution of illegal drugs
An assault on anyone on or close to the rental property
Conviction for a criminal act for at least 180 days
Assault, theft, or violence inside the rental unit
The tenant cannot take corrective measures since it is a three-day notice to quit. Instead, the tenant must quit the rental unit. The landlord may lodge an eviction lawsuit if the tenant remains on the rental property.
Length of Notice Period
There are variations in the length of the notice period based on the type of lease or rental agreement. Here are examples of such notices:
Month-to-month lease: 21-day notice to quit
Week-to-week lease: 1-day notice to quit
Six-month lease: 28-day notice to quit
One-year lease: 91-day notice to quit
4. Lease Non-Renewal on Expiry of the Rental Period
Colorado landlords cannot evict tenants unless there is a clear and probable cause. If tenants don’t violate rules or engage in criminal acts, they can stay until the end of the lease terms. On expiry of a lease or rental agreement, the tenant may or may not renew the lease.
However, if the tenant overstays even by a day after the expiry of the lease term, the landlord will issue a notice to quit. Colorado landlords are not obligated to remind tenants to renew leases.
Filing a Complaint Against a Tenant
The eviction process in Colorado begins once a landlord issues a notice to comply or quit. If the tenant doesn’t comply with any of that, the landlord must file an eviction complaint.
How to File a Complaint
A landlord doesn’t have to be in a hurry when filing a complaint against a tenant. Instead, they should take their time. The Colorado eviction process generally takes the following steps:
Commence eviction proceedings in the local county court
File all necessary documents
Pay filing fees, which are $85 to $135 (it depends on the eviction type), in Colorado
It takes between 1 and 91 days from the date a notice to quit is issued before a landlord files a legal complaint. That largely depends on why the tenant is being evicted.
Serving the Tenant with the Complaint and Summons
The landlord serves the tenant with the complaint and resultant summons. The timeline for serving the complaint and summons is at least one week before the court hearing.
How to Serve a Tenant
A Colorado landlord can serve a tenant in any of the following ways:
1. Personal Service
A server submits the summons and complaint to the tenant in person. It could either be at home, the tenant’s workplace, or anywhere they can meet.
2. Substituted Service
In the absence of the tenant, a landlord may serve anyone within the rental unit who is 18 years old and older. If that isn’t possible, they will serve the summons at the tenant’s workplace.
The server may post the summons and complaint at the entrance of the rental unit. It should be visible and difficult for the tenant to miss. The landlord should then use first-class mail to send the summons to the tenant.
The eviction laws in Colorado do not allow the service of the documents by the landlord to the tenant in person. They may ask a law enforcement officer from the sheriff’s department to serve the tenant. An option is a professional process server, who may charge for it.
The Tenant’s Response
At this stage of the eviction process in Colorado, the tenant prepares a written answer prior to the court date. If the tenant files a written answer, the eviction proceedings will commence. On the other hand, if the tenant fails to answer the landlord’s claims, the landlord wins the uncontested case.
Timelines for the Eviction Hearing
There will be an eviction hearing 7 to 14 days after the landlord files a complaint. The Colorado eviction law requires the landlord to serve the tenant no more than 7 days before scheduling the hearing.
The Eviction Lawsuit
The eviction lawsuit is the next step in the Colorado eviction process after the service of a summons and complaint. It is up to the landlord to prove their allegations against the tenant.
Filing a Motion
For a judge to rule in the landlord’s favor, there must be strong evidence to support the case against the tenant. The landlord wins the case by default if the tenant doesn’t file a written answer in his defense.
What If the Tenant Replies?
According to the eviction laws in Colorado, a tenant doesn’t have to reply to the court to schedule a date. A counterclaim or written answer is enough.
The landlord and tenant must also attempt to resolve the case before a trained mediator. If they disagree, the landlord must provide evidence of their claims. Depending on the lease violations, the landlord may support the case using any of the following:
Copy of deed and lease
Witnesses of a substantial violation
A photo or video evidence
If the tenant replies in writing, there will be a follow-up hearing to continue with the case. The court could issue a summary judgment in the landlord’s favor if there's proper documentary evidence.
Taking Possession of the Rental Unit
After the default judgment, the judge issues a Writ of Restitution to the landlord within 48 hours. The tenant must vacate the rental unit within forty-eight hours. A law enforcement officer may forcibly evict them if they are still in the rental property 48 hours later.
The landlord gives the writ of restitution to the sheriff’s office for enforcement. If any of the tenant’s property remains behind, the landlord must give a 15-day period for the tenant to retrieve them.
Tenants with renter's insurance may get compensation if their personal property gets damaged or destroyed. A landlord must dispose of or store any items voluntarily left behind by the tenant after 30 days.
What Can Landlord Insurance Do for You?
The eviction process in Colorado can be long-drawn and tedious. Plus, some problematic tenants could damage your property and frustrate your efforts to evict them. Others might refuse to accept liability for certain lease violations and even win the court case against you.
A landlord insurance policy is critical to avoiding losses due to some common perils. It can help you restore the rental property from damage caused by a problematic tenant. The following are the common perils covered by landlord insurance:
Natural disasters like floods, storms, earthquakes, and lightning
Accidental impact on the rental property
Damage to electrical appliances
Steadily is your reliable landlord insurance partner for apartment buildings, single-family, condo, multi-family, and other residential tenancies. It provides coverage locally in all parts of the United States. So, if you’re looking for a reliable partner in rental property insurance, contact us today.
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