Some Boulder tenants facing 25 percent rent increase

BOULDER, Colo. -- Some Boulder residents may soon be forced out of their town homes after learning their rent is set to rise by as much as 25 percent.

Tenants of the Wonderland Creek Town Homes say they were surprised by the increase, especially since they were told just two months ago their rents would be increasing by just 7 percent.

A new property manager, FourStar Realty, recently took over management of the complex, reneging on the earlier offer from the previous landlord.

The company initially planned to increase rent by more than $700 a month, but agreed to reduce that amount to no more than $500 after hearing from upset tenants.

They're also only going to now raise the rent by 7 percent this year, for tenants who had agreed in writing to the initial offer.

FourStar Realty said the units were undervalued and that tenants were offered their current, introductory rates knowing rent would increase after one year.

Regardless, tenants say the increase is too much. Kathryn Kelley is one of those tenants now deciding whether to stay or move out.

"At first I thought it was a typo," she said.

Kelley is worried about not only the rent increase, but by the amount of time she says FourStar Realty gave tenants to make a decision about whether to stay or move.

"It was a deadline to reply with intent to renew or vacate within eight days," she said. "It's definitely frustrating. I really don't want to have to move," she says.

There's not much Kelley and other tenants can do about the rent hike. Claire Levy is the Executive Director of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

She says Colorado has a state law actually prohibiting limits on how much landlords can raise rents. Many states do have rent control, most often leaving that decision up to individual cities.

"Our laws really do favor the apartment owners, the landlords," she said.

However, Levy does believe FourStar Realty may possibly be violating the law by only allowing tenants eight days to decide whether to agree to the new rental rates.

She says state law requires 28 days notice.

"It's such a strange situation, one that I've never heard of," she said.

Regardless, Kelley is fighting back, now on a quest to change state law to allow limits on what landlords can do.

"It may be legal but it's not right,' she said. "I fully intend to fight for this because I don't think it should happen to anyone else."

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