In Colorado, evictions are sometimes referred to as “Forcible Entry & Detainer” (FED). Like in other states, Colorado landlords and property managers must follow all the rules and regulations set forth by state law when evicting a tenant. Otherwise, the eviction process will fail.
A landlord who engages in any conduct outside the judicial process such as threatening the tenant, taking the tenant’s personal belongings, terminating essential services or utilities, or locking out the tenant may be liable to the tenant for any damages incurred.
A Guide to the Eviction Process in Colorado
Notice of Termination with Cause
You must have a legal reason to evict a tenant in Colorado before the expiry of the lease term. Generally, the Colorado state law is straightforward in this regard. According to Colorado’s eviction laws, you can evict a tenant for various reasons, including but not limited to:
- Failure to pay rent
- Repeated violations of the lease terms
- Engaging in illegal activities
Regardless of the reason, you must first terminate the rental agreement or lease. And the first step to evict a tenant is to hand them a written 3-day notice of eviction.
In Colorado, the 3-day notice is also known as “Demand for Compliance.” With this notice, the tenant only has two options: Do something about the violation, or leave. You may then file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant fails to take any action within the three days.
You can also evict a tenant for committing more serious violations. These include criminal activities inside the rental unit or on the premises, or being violent towards another tenant.
In the case of serious violations, you must give the tenant a three-day notice to quit. You can then go ahead and file an eviction lawsuit after three days if the tenant fails to vacate the premises.
Notice of Termination Without Cause
Sometimes, you may not have just cause to terminate the rental agreement. In this case, you’ll have to wait until the end of the lease term. Depending on the circumstances, you may still be required to give notice to the tenant.
To end a month-to-month tenancy, you must give the tenant a 7-day notice. The notice informs the tenant that the lease will not be extended for another month and that the tenancy will expire in seven days.
Fixed Term Tenancy
Similar to the month-to-month tenancy, you must wait until the end of the lease term before evicting the tenant. However, you don’t need to serve the tenant with a notice, since fixed term leases expire on their own according to a specific date.
Also, fixed-term leases usually have provisions for transforming them into a month-to-month lease or extension for another term.
Serving an Eviction Notice in Colorado
You may deliver the eviction notice to the tenant in one of the following ways.
- By delivering it to the tenant in person
- Leaving it in a conspicuous place on the property, if the tenant isn’t present
- Delivering the documents at the tenant’s place of work
- Providing the notice to the tenant’s family member who is at least 16 years of age
If the tenant doesn’t act on the notices, you can proceed with the formal eviction procedure by filling out some forms. These forms may include a CRCCP Form 1A (Summons in Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer), form JDF 99 (Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer), and a CRCCP Form 3 (Answer under Simplified Civil Procedure).
Removal of the Tenant
Only a law enforcement officer can forcibly remove a tenant from a rental unit. It’s illegal for a landlord to try to evict a tenant. If you do that, the tenant can sue you in court.
Once the eviction process is done, you may find that the tenant has left behind personal belongings. Unlike most states, the law does not require Colorado landlords to store tenants’ belongings if they had to resort to forcible eviction.
Instead, you must notify the tenant of their belongings first, and then wait 15 days before selling or disposing of them. If the tenant moved out voluntarily, you are required to mail the notice to their last known address and then wait 30 days before disposing of the items.
Tenant Defenses to Eviction in Colorado
Even though a landlord may have a valid legal reason to evict a tenant, the tenant may still choose to fight the eviction in court.
Common tenant eviction defenses in Colorado include:
- The landlord failed to keep the common areas safe.
- The implied covenant of quiet enjoyment of the premises was breached by letting in a “nuisance.”
- The landlord failed to repair potentially dangerous defects on the property such as defective electrical or gas systems.
- The eviction is based on discriminatory grounds such as familial status, creed, national origin, race, religion or disability.
- The eviction is in retaliation for complaining about the unit’s condition.
Writ of Restitution
Assuming the judge rules in your favor, you must request a Writ of Restitution. A Writ of Restitution directs the sheriff to assist you in forcibly removing the tenant from the rental property. The tenant will then have 24 hours left to vacate or face eviction.
Also, under Colorado Revised Statute 13-4-123 , the tenant will be required to pay for attorney fees and costs for evictions. Colorado is a ‘loser pays’ state.
In evicting a tenant, landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Colorado’s eviction laws. It’s recommended that you enlist the services of a competent attorney if you need any form of assistance.