DENVER (KDVR) — If you are a renter in Colorado, you may or may not know that you have a few rights under state law.
Many of these rights were passed recently, with some having gone into effect in 2021 and 2023. One more will go into effect in 2024.
You can find all of these laws in the Colorado Revised Statutes, with most of them in Title 38, Article 12.
Here are some you should know about.
Units must be habitable
One of the basic terms required by landlords is that the units rented out have to be habitable.
There are a few things that the law specifically calls out that would deem a unit uninhabitable. This includes a unit having mold, no running water, and non-functional appliances.
One thing the units must have is functioning heating. However, they are not required to have functioning air conditioning.
Things not allowed in rental agreements
A few things are, by law, not allowed to be in rental agreements.
- Fees, penalties or damages for failing to provide notice of nonrenewal, except for “actual losses incurred by the landlord” for the failure to provide notice
- Markups or fees for services billed to the landlord by a third party that exceed $10 or 2% of what the landlord was billed
Rental agreements also can’t require a tenant to waive their right to a jury trial or their right to join a class action related to the tenancy.
If anything on the list is included in a rental agreement, they are not enforceable.
Application process rights
Even before you enter a lease, you have some rights.
- Landlords are not allowed to require that prospective tenants make more than 200% of the rent.
- Landlords can look at past credit history but can’t look at anything older than seven years.
- Landlords can use past criminal history but can’t look at any convictions older than five years, with some exceptions for certain crimes including homicide and crimes that require sex offender registration. Those crimes can always be used for consideration, regardless of how long ago they happened.
Also, landlords must give written notice if they deny an application, and the notice has to give the reasons for the denial.
If a landlord denies someone’s application for any of the reasons above, they may be able to recover damages.
Security deposits can’t be higher than 200% of monthly rent. So, if you rent a unit for $2,000, the maximum you can be charged for a deposit is $4,000.
Landlords also have to return the full deposit, at most, 60 days after the tenant leaves.
If the landlord doesn’t return the full amount, they have to give a written statement that lists the exact reasons why. However, they can’t use the deposit to cover normal wear and tear.
If you have ever rented, you likely already know that your landlord is allowed to raise your rent.
However, if you are in a unit and your landlord raises your rent once, they are not allowed to do so again within a twelve-month period.
Landlords can charge late fees, but there are a few rules.
Notably, if a rental agreement does not mention late fees, a landlord can’t charge one. Landlords can only charge a late fee after payment is late by at least seven days and can’t charge more than 5% of monthly rent or $50, whichever is greater.
If a landlord does any of these things, a tenant may be able to recover damages.
Pet deposits and rent
Starting Jan. 1, 2024, landlords will not be allowed to charge more than $300 for a pet deposit. This deposit must be refundable.
Additionally, starting in 2024, landlords will not be allowed to charge a pet rent of more than $35 a month or 0.5% of monthly rent, whichever is greater.