Legal FAQs for Renters in Colorado

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.

This page was last updated on Aug 26th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

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Emergency Protections during COVID

Emergency Protections during COVID


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 14, 2020 but tenants will have 30 days to respond before the landlord can file an eviction court case against them.

Some Colorado renters were protected by the national CDC eviction moratorium. It expired on August 26, 2021.

What do the protections mean for Colorado renters?

The protections mean that in Colorado, after 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.
  • 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.

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 13, 2020 from eviction for nonpayment of rent, but now this Colorado 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:

  • 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.

Can my landlord evict me during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?

Your landlord can try to evict you, since the emergency period has expired.

They must give renters 30 days notice before filing an eviction lawsuit based on nonpayment of rent.

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?

Yes, utility companies may try to shut off your utilities since the emergency period ended in Colorado.

Earlier, the Colorado Governor's Executive Order prohibited utility companies from shutting off services during the emergency.

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.

What if I need repairs during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?

Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.

The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should write or email your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible. You can also call them, but be sure to also send a written communication at the same time.

Emergency repairs could be for problems with:

  • Running water or hot water
  • Heat
  • Stove, oven, or refrigerator
  • Electricity
  • Bathroom use
  • Missing doors, locks, or windows
  • Pests

If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).

Reach out for legal help for additional guidance.

Can I break my lease during COVID?

You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.

Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period. However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.

Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease, in some cases penalty-free.

Find legal help to get advice for your situation.

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me during the COVID-19 emergency in Colorado?

Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.

It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit against you, win the case, and get an eviction order from the court.

If anyone other than a sheriff is trying to remove you from your home, you can call the police to protect yourself.

Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.

Find legal help to protect your rights.

Are eviction cases still proceeding through court in Colorado?

Colorado courts are hearing eviction cases as of October 2020. Hearings are may be done via teleconference. Look for information for your jurisdiction.

Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?

Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?


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.

Find local legal help in Colorado here.

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.

Find local legal help in Colorado here.

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.

Find local legal help in Colorado here.

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?

If the eviction notice has not expired, you likely still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward. If the notice is for nonpayment alone and you pay the amount demanded in the notice before the expiration of the notice, the landlord is obligated to accept it and cannot file an eviction case against you based on that notice. (However, that does not prevent the landlord from simply sending a new notice and filing for eviction if that notice expires without payment.)

Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.

Find local financial help at your Colorado Get Help page.

How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction in Colorado?

In Colorado, you have a minimum of 10 days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you. This 10-day period begins on the date listed on the notice, not necessarily the date you received it.

The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 10 days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal.

Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.

Find local legal help in Colorado here.

Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?

Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Find local legal help in Colorado 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.

Find local legal help in Colorado here.

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.

Behind on Rent?

Behind on Rent?


Who can help me with rent that I owe?

If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.

Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.

Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.

Am I eligible for rent relief?

Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.

You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.

You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.

You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to see if you are eligible.

Does immigration status matter for rent relief?

Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.

Can a landlord apply for their renter, to get rental assistance?

Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.

Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.

The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program about the steps to follow to apply for rent relief.

Get Help From Local Groups

State 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

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