Sun Valley Homes, the site of public housing located in one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, on March 18, 2020. The entire complex was slated for redevelopment. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)
Editor’s note: This guide was published on April 26, 2021. It will be updated as necessary to reflect changing eviction rules and protections. Last updated: Oct. 4, 2021.
The number of Colorado households behind on their rent or mortgage payments has decreased slightly since September as the state rolls out more rental assistance funds and the economy continues to bounce back.
As of Sept. 27, 46.4% of Colorado adults were living in households not up to date on rent or mortgage payments and were at risk of eviction in the coming months, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. The survey estimates that 43,123 Colorado adults fall into this category. In September, 31.6% of adults were at risk of eviction — a significant increase from 25.5% in early June.
Eviction filings have steadily increased since Colorado’s statewide eviction moratorium expired on New Year’s Day. Between January and October, 17,696 evictions were filed across the state. The majority of evictions have been filed in high-population counties, including Arapahoe, Adams, El Paso, Jefferson and Denver. Other counties, including Weld, Pueblo, Alamosa and Montrose, have also seen high eviction filing rates compared to their renter population.
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The Colorado Department of Local Affairs has distributed $163 million in rental and mortgage assistance funds as of Sept. 22 — only 15.2% of the federal funds available to tenants and landlords in need of support, according to The Colorado Sun.
Here’s what renters and landlords need to know about evictions in the state, including new laws that recently took effect:
Tenants are no longer protected by a federal eviction moratorium
The U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion on Aug. 26 that ended a national eviction moratorium, which was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug. 3. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, the protection was set to expire on Oct. 3.
The short-lived ban came days after a broader federal moratorium expired on Aug 1. Prior to being struck down by the Supreme Court, the order protected renters behind on their payments who were living in counties with high or substantial rates of community COVID-19 transmission, or places with more than 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.
Colorado’s statewide eviction moratorium — which added protections for people with expired or month-to-month leases — expired on Jan. 1.
A landlord can file for eviction 10 days after notice of default for nonpayment of rent
A previous executive order by Gov. Jared Polis gave tenants who had pending emergency rental assistance applications a 30-day period to get caught up on rent before their landlord could begin eviction proceedings. Polis ended that extra protection Oct. 3.
Landlords have been able to charge rental late fees on missed rent since May 1.
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.
If a tenant is being charged late fees for missed rent during these time periods, the renter is advised to send the governor’s executive order to their landlord over email.
Have you received an eviction notice? Here are some organizations that can help you navigate.
- 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.
Two new laws are now in effect that provide more legal protections for renters
A new state law, which went into effect on June 25, gives tenants 10 days to vacate their home after an eviction is ordered by a judge. Previously, renters were given 48 hours before a sheriff was allowed to come and remove them from the property. The new law also prohibits a landlord from increasing rent on leased properties more than one time a year, and extends the notice for rent increases for people on month-to-month leases from 21 days to 60.
Another new law, which went into effect on Oct. 1, puts limits on how much a landlord can charge in rental late fees, extends the grace period for paying back owed rent, and rebalances the legal power tenants have when facing an eviction or challenging their landlords in court for uninhabitable living conditions.
The law prohibits landlords from charging a tenant or mobile-home owner a late fee unless rent is more than seven days late, and mandates the fee not exceed $50 or 5% of the rent that’s past due. It also mandates that only one late fee may be issued for each late month’s rent. Previously, a landlord was allowed to charge a late fee every day after a rent payment was missed.
Landlords are now prohibited from initiating an eviction solely for outstanding late fees. Tenants are also able to pay back their rent at any time until a court has issued a judgment for possession in order to have the case against them dropped. Previously, landlords were not required to accept past rent owed once an eviction had been filed in court.
How to apply for rental assistance, and how long to expect to wait.
The state is currently running two rental assistance programs for tenants and property owners. A household can apply for arrears back to April 2020, plus their current month’s rent and two future months, for a maximum of 15 months total, according to the Department of Local Affairs website.
Though the assistance program has improved in recent months, the process is still relatively slow. The state estimates that its turnaround time is within two weeks to review new applications, and payment takes anywhere from one week to three weeks after that (but could be longer).
Currently, at least 11 local jurisdictions are also distributing rental assistance funds, including Adams, Arapahoe, Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld.
Nearly a quarter of the applications submitted to the state have been incomplete. Here are some tips.
The most common missing information is income verification for tenants and W-9 forms from landlords. Documentation that counts as income verification includes proof of unemployment benefits or other public assistance programs, according to Alison George, director of the division of housing.
The division is sending out weekly reminder emails for missing documentation. If your application has missing documents, you can take a picture of the documentation and text it to the number below.
Can you reapply if your application is denied?
Yes. The number one reason an application might be denied is if a person has applied in multiple rental assistance systems or if an applicant does not respond to requests.
How to check the status of your rental assistance application.
Call or text 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 12:30 p.m.
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