New Landlord-Tenant Laws effective 10-1-2021; Annie Murphy to teach Landlord Class 9-21-21

Dufford Waldeck will be hosting a free class (taught by Annie Murphy) to review the new landlord-tenant laws on Tuesday, September 21st at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Grand Junction Area Realtors Association, 2743 Crossroads Blvd., Grand Junction, CO 81506.

To register, follow this link. In-person seating is limited and available on a first come first serve basis.

New Colorado Landlord-Tenant Laws:

More Help for Tenants

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that invalidated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium, Colorado’s new housing laws, some of which are now in effect and others which go into effect on October 1st, were passed with the hope that they will provide help to tenants who are struggling to pay rent. It has already been a tough year and a half for landlords wanting to end tenancies with residents who are failing to pay rent with the CDC and state eviction moratoriums. This article will also discuss the two laws which went into effect on January 1, 2021 regarding unfair housing practices.

SB21-173, SB21-242, HB21-1121, SB20-224 (the “Immigrant Tenant Protection Act”), and HB 20-1332 (the “Source of Income Law”) provide housing assistance, expand tenant rights, prohibit landlords from issuing certain late fees and rent increases, and change the legal procedures for evictions. Colorado landlords need be aware of these new changes in drafting leases and successfully terminating tenancies.

A landlord that fails to follow the new requirements can potentially be fined $50 for each violation, and face a civil action filed by tenants. Understanding the new requirements will help ensure landlords remain compliant, avoid fees and litigation, and successfully terminate tenancies.

Pre-Lease Requirements

Immigrant Tenant Protection Act

The Immigrant Tenant Protection Act became effective January 1, 2021. Under this Act, landlords are prohibited from engaging in certain housing practices or related activities based on the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant:

· Landlords may not ask about a person’s citizenship status in housing unless the Landlord is also the person’s employer.

· Landlords may not threaten to call ICE or others on the basis of citizenship status and may not harass or intimidate a resident because of immigration status or evict due to citizenship status.

· Landlords must ask for the same documentation for every prospective tenant/applicant, which may include SSN, Tax ID no., or other proof of identity sufficient to properly screen the individual.

Tenants may bring civil actions against Landlords for violating the Act. A successful tenant may seek punitive (up to $2,000) and compensatory damages plus attorney fees and costs. In a civil action brought under the Act, the tenant’s immigration or citizenship status is irrelevant. Please note, there are NO exceptions for small landlords under this law.

Source of Income Discrimination

Effective January 1, 2021, Landlords are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of a tenant’s “source of income.” “Source of income” is defined to include any source of money paid directly, indirectly, or on behalf of a person, including income from any lawful profession or from any government or private assistance, grant, or loan program, such as SSDI, VA benefits, etc. A person is prohibited from refusing to rent, lease, show for rent or lease, or transmit an offer to rent or lease housing based on a person's source of income. In addition, a person cannot discriminate in the terms or conditions of a rental agreement against another person based on source of income, or based upon the person's participation in a 3rd-party contract required as a condition of receiving public housing assistance, such as section 8 Choice Vouchers, CCH, VASH, CAP etc. Landlords are prohibited from advertising a source of income preference in rental ads. This law does NOT apply to property owners with 3 or fewer rentals. And, a landlord with 5 or fewer rentals is not obliged to accept federal housing choice vouchers for single family homes; but, the remaining requirements apply. Landlords are permitted to continue to check the credit of prospective tenants IF they do so for all prospective tenants.

Pre-Eviction Requirements

The following provisions are prescribed by SB21-173 and are set to go into effect on October 1, 2021.

Late Fees

Landlords are still permitted to charge late fees but may need to update their lease agreements as SB21-173 places new restrictions on the issuance of late fees. Under the new requirements, landlords cannot require a tenant to pay a late fee unless the late fee is disclosed in the lease agreement. And, late fees

are capped – they cannot exceed the greater of $50 or 5% of the amount of the past due rent payment

In addition to the late fee cap, new late fees restrictions. These restrictions prevent landlords from:

· Classifying late fees as “rent” in the lease agreement;

· Charging interest on late fees;

· Charging a late fee on tenants unless rent is more than seven days late;

· Charging a late fee that exceeds the cap mentioned above ($50 or 5% of the past due rent);

· Charging a late fee more than once for a late payment;

· Charging a late fee without written notice of the fee within 180 days after the due date of a rental payment;

· Collecting late fees on tenants for the late payment or nonpayment of any portion of rent that a rent subsidy provider is responsible for;

· Recouping a late fee from a rental payment; and