Legal FAQs for Renters in
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Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
What can I do?
I've been sued in court for eviction
What can I do?
Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
- Are there any special protections for Colorado renters during the COVID-19 emergency?
Colorado's eviction moratorium expired, but the Governor has ordered that landlords must give tenants a longer notice period before filing for eviction.
The governor's Executive Order had prohibited the filing and enforcement of evictions through June 13, 2020. The protection has now expired. The order also prohibited landlords from charging late fees for rent not paid during the emergency.
The Governor issued a new rule that landlords must provide tenants with 30 days notice before they can file an eviction lawsuit against them for not paying their rent (rather than the usual 10 days notice). Landlords can begin to give renters notice to pay or quit on June 14th, but tenants will have 30 days to respond before the landlord can file an eviction court case against them.
Colorado renters may also have national protections against eviction through the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. Check here to see if you are eligible.
- What do the protections mean for Colorado renters?
The protections mean that in Colorado, after the eviction moratorium expired on June 13, 2020:
- Your landlord might give you a notice to quit.
- Your landlord can only file an eviction claim against you for not paying your rent, once they have given you 30 days notice.
- Hearings are not necessarily suspended, and the court may still hear an eviction case against you.
- The court can still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- Law enforcement may enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.
You may still be protected against eviction in Colorado through a national CDC Eviction Moratorium through January 31, 2021. Read more below to see if you are protected.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?
Yes, Colorado renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
You were protected through June 13th from eviction for nonpayment of rent, but now this special protection has expired. Your landlord cannot charge you late fees for rent that you did not pay during the emergency period.
The Colorado governor established a special fund to provide rental assistance to low-income households impacted by COVID-19. Call 2-1-1 or go to the 211 website to apply.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. You can reach out to a free lawyer for help in how to do this. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make, that are signed and dated. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19’s impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?
Your landlord could not evict you during the emergency period through June 13, 2020 in Colorado, in most situations. If there had been a major lease violation, like if you have done significant damage to the property or are a serious and imminent threat to someone else, they were still able to evict you.
Once the emergency period ended on June 13, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again. They must give renters 30 days notice before filing an eviction lawsuit based on nonpayment of rent.
- You may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through January 31, 2021. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.
Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.
Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:
- Rent a home in the United States; AND
- Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
- Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
- Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
- Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
- Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.
If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.
What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?
The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through Jan. 31, 2021.
- If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
- You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:
- Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
- After the CDC Moratorium expires on Jan. 31, 2021, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:
- Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
- You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.
How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?
To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:
- Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
- Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
- Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
- Protections through Jan. 31st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through January 31, 2021. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
- If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
- You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on Jan. 31, 2021, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
- Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.
If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.
What if I need repairs during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?
Can I break my lease during COVID?
What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?
Are eviction cases still proceeding through court in Colorado?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
- My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Colorado. What should I do?
You do not have to leave your home yet. If your landlord or anyone else forces you to leave your home without a sheriff present, they are acting illegally and you should consider calling your local sheriff.
In Colorado, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you have a basis to challenge it and stop the eviction.
These are the Colorado requirements for an eviction notice:
- The notice must be written down.
- It has to have your address and signed by the landlord or their representative.
- It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reason.
- It usually says how much rent you owe as well as the dates you can pay it back.
Reach out for legal help if you question whether the notice is correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
- What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Colorado?
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
- Do I have to leave my home by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date in Colorado?
If you do not leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the initial eviction notice, a sheriff will NOT be there the next day to lock you out.
The case must first go through the full court process before the landlord can legally evict you.
Landlords cannot physically remove you, touch your personal property, change the locks, or cut off your utilities without a sheriff present. You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
However, if you are still in the property at the expiration of the notice, and a judge later determines that the notice was proper, then you will have committed a “forcible entry and detainer” by staying there beyond the expiration of the notice, which may expose you to further legal liability, though this is rare. It is therefore important to contact an attorney as soon as possible once you get eviction paperwork.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in Colorado. What if I can't afford to pay it?
How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction in Colorado?
I've been sued in court for eviction
- My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court. What should I do?
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit, though if the landlord has lied about when they sued you, that is often difficult to prove in court, and even if you prove the landlord didn’t serve you properly, the judge may decide to overlook their error if you find your way to court on time. In Colorado, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
- Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Complaint. The landlord can not give you these papers - it has to be a person not involved in the case. This can be the sheriff, a deputy, or any other person over 18.
- One of these people can deliver the papers personally to you or they leave it with a member of your household that is over 18, your supervisor from work, secretary, assistant, bookkeeper, managing agent, or representative.
- They can also post the papers in an obvious place (usually the door), but if they do they have to also mail a copy to you.
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction. Find legal help here
- Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Colorado?
In Colorado, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction.
The summons and complaint you receive from the landlord will tell you by what date you need to file your official answer in court. Typically you will have only 7 days after you receive the Summons and Complaint to get a written answer back to the court, and often the deadline is 8:00 o’clock in the morning. If the court does not receive your official answer by the 7th day, you may lose your case and the judge may give the landlord permission to remove you from your home.
It is a very good idea to get legal help with your answer, because saying the wrong thing or leaving out something important may cause you to lose your case or otherwise prejudice you in some way.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
- Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Colorado?
You can come to an agreement out of court, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed, if a case was filed against you.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it. The best way to ensure that an agreement is enforceable is to submit it to the court as a “so-ordered stipulation,” meaning it becomes an order of the court. Although having an attorney for this is not required, it is a good idea to have an attorney look over or help draft the agreement.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen, unless an attorney you are working with or the court says you don’t need to.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed. Find local help here.
Its information is taken from these sources:Col. Governor executive orderCol. utility informationCol. court announcementsPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerCol. Governor extension of moratorium