In Colorado, 31.5% of Colorado adults — down from 46.5% in late March — are living in households that are not current on their rent or mortgage payments and where eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is either very likely or somewhat likely as of the end of April, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Eviction filings have been steadily increasing since Colorado’s statewide eviction moratorium expired on New Years Day. As of April 26, more than 7,500 evictions have been filed across the state since the beginning of the year, according to state court data. Some tenants are still protected under the federal eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of June.
While eviction filings have steadily increased since Colorado’s moratorium expired, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs is working to get out as much rental assistance as possible. But the process has been slow.
“The good news is that we probably now have the money we need, or close to the money we need, to chase down a lot of the unpaid rental balances,” Zach Neumann, co-founder and executive director of the Colorado-based COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.
“There’s the vaccine, people are beginning to go back to work. So it’s feeling like we’re starting to turn a corner,” Neumann added. “I think the downside or the risk is that people are so anxious to return to normalcy that I think a lot of the protections that have been in place are perhaps lifting too quickly.”
Here’s what protections are still in place for renters in Colorado who are behind on rent or facing eviction:
If you’re behind on your rent in Colorado, you have 30 days — not 10 — to get caught up before your landlord can file an eviction.
Gov. Jared Polis on April 20 issued an executive order that gives tenants slightly more time to get caught up on rent before a landlord can file an eviction.
Tenants now have 30 days to pay back any owed rent. Previously, tenants only had 10 days. Once an eviction has been filed with the courts, landlords are not required to accept owed-rent under current law.
The order expires 30 days from April 20, but the governor has the authority to extend the order if he deems it necessary.
As of May 1, landlords can resume charging rental late fees.
Landlords in Colorado were banned from collecting late fees from residential and commercial tenants struggling to make their rental payments due to the pandemic between April 20 and June 12, 2020. The ban went back into place from Oct. 15, 2020 through the end of April 2021. The governor has not renewed the protection.
If a tenant is being charged late fees for missed rent during these time periods, Newmann recommends they send the Governor’s executive order to their landlord over email.
Who is protected by the federal eviction moratorium?
To qualify for the federal protections, a single-person household must earn less than $99,000 and a couple must earn less than $198,000.
A person must declare that they can’t pay rent because of COVID-19 hardships; demonstrate they’ve sought government assistance to help pay rent; and attest that they are likely to become homeless if evicted. The federal ban does not protect renters on expiring or month-to-month leases.
The federal moratorium is set to expire at the end of June. On Jan. 1, Colorado’s statewide eviction moratorium — which added protections for people with expired or month-to-month leases — expired, and it has not been renewed.
What to do if you get an eviction notice.
In order to be legally protected under the federal eviction moratorium, tenants must fill out a declaration form and submit it to their landlord. (The moratorium does not cover people with expired or month-to-month leases.) Tenants are also able to submit the form when they show up to court.
Here are some organizations that can help you navigate through the eviction process:
- Colorado Legal Services provides free legal assistance and representation in eviction actions to low-income individuals and families and Coloradans over 60-years-old.
- The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project also provides free legal aid and representation to tenants facing eviction and other housing issues related to COVID-19 hardship, regardless of citizenship status. Start by filling out this form.
- The nonprofits 9to5 Colorado and Colorado Poverty Law Project also provide legal support for housing issues.
How to apply for rental assistance, and how long to expect to wait.
The state is currently running two rental assistance programs for tenants. A household can apply for arrears back to April 2020, plus their current month’s rent and two future months, for a maximum of 12 months total, according to Brett McPherson, a spokesperson for the Department of Local Affairs.
Colorado’s Division of Housing is still trying to dig its way out of a massive backlog of rental assistance requests, which flooded its system throughout December, January and February. The state estimates that their turnaround time is between six and eight weeks, McPherson said. DOLA officials hope that once they get through their backlog of applications in the next few weeks, they can trim down their turnaround time to two weeks.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the state’s two assistance programs for renters have received 18,011 applications from tenants totaling more than $95 million as of the end of April. Of the applications submitted, only 5,503 households — or 30% — had received payments as of April 21.
“They’re just unprecedented state and federal resources to pay these arrearages and so while the wait times are long and the process is complicated, the number one way to protect yourself from getting evicted, is to pursue those resources and work with a lawyer to ensure you’re getting the benefit of those resources being paid on your behalf,” Neumann said.
Currently, 11 local jurisdictions are also distributing rental assistance funds, including Adams, Arapahoe, Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld.
Here’s how to check the status of your rental assistance application.
Call 1-888-480-0066 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Editor’s note: Newsline will update this guide as necessary to reflect changing eviction rules and protections. Last updated: May 7, 2021.