What’s the deal with evictions in Colorado?
In Colorado, evictions are sometimes referred to as “forcible entry & detainer” (FED).
Before you can file for eviction, you must generally provide 10 days’ notice (increased from 3 days prior) for tenants to correct a deficiency or leave the property, except in certain circumstances.
Once the filing process is complete, most hearings will take place within 2 weeks of the initial filing, absent any appeals or continuances. You can then plan on at least another 48 hours to receive and execute a writ of restitution, essentially forcing the former tenant out under law enforcement supervision. In practice, the process usually takes about 25 days, or about 30 days for mobile home lots.
What are some reasons that I can evict a tenant in Colorado?
Besides the simple expiration of a lease agreement that will not be renewed, you can evict a tenant in Colorado for the following reasons:
- Default in the payment of rent – Colorado Revised Statute 13-40-104 subsection (1)(d)
- Violation of a Condition or Covenant of the agreement – C.R.S. 13-40-104 subsection (1)(e)
- Public Trustee Sale – C.R.S. 13-40-104 subsection (1)(f)
- Substantial Violation: Violent or antisocial criminal acts – C.R.S. 13-40-107.5
Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant in Colorado?
Colorado Revised Statutes Section 38-12-509 prohibits landlords from taking retaliatory action against tenants for filing a complaint, with a landlord or to any government agency, over violations of the implied warranty of habitability (see Colorado Rev. Stat. 38-12-503 and 505). Basically, you cannot retaliate against a tenant (including evicting them) for complaining that the unit is not being maintained in a livable condition. The burden of proof, however, lies with the tenant.
You cannot discriminate against a tenant on the basis of race, color, familial status, disability, religion, sex, or national origin. These are all protected classes under the federal Fair Housing Act. In addition, Colorado law prohibits discrimination on the basis of ancestry, creed, belief systems, marital status, or sexual orientation. Some cities have added additional protected classes to state and federal laws.
You cannot evict a tenant because he or she has a service or therapy dog under the Fair Housing Act. This supersedes any pet restrictions that may be present in your lease.
What is the Colorado eviction process normally like?
For evictions to terminate a lease, the first step is to serve the tenant with a Demand for Compliance or Possession Notice (JDF 101) or a Notice to Quit (JDF 97). You then have to wait for at least 3 days to elapse. If the last day of any period is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the period is extended.
You can download the forms here: https://www.courts.state.co.us.
Use a Demand for Compliance if you want to give the tenant the option to correct the problem. Use a Notice to Quit if you just want the tenant out and aren’t interested in giving them an opportunity to rectify the problem.
In either case, you must post these notices no less than 3 full days prior to proceeding with an eviction filing.
Note: If there’s no violation of the lease; the tenant has been paying rent; and you want to move the tenant out due to the routine expiration of a lease, or by a mutual agreement to terminate a lease, a different timeline applies. This timeline depends on how long the tenant has been living in the unit.
- One year or longer: 91 days
- Six months or longer but less than 1 year: 28 days
- One month or longer but less than 6 months: 7 days
- One week or longer but less than 1 month: 3 days
- Less than one week: 1 day
If the 10-day notice doesn’t produce satisfactory results, then you can go ahead with the formal eviction procedure by filling out a form JDF 99 (Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer), plus a CRCCP Form 1A (Summons in Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer) and a CRCCP Form 3 (Answer Under Simplified Civil Procedure).
Expect to pay a filing fee of $97, plus additional fees to produce copies for the court and for each defendant. If the dwelling has multiple adult residents whom you wish to evict, court officials have to serve each of them separately, so expect to pay more in this situation.
No later than one day following the day when you file the Complaint with the court, you must mail a copy of the Summons, Complaint, and Answer to the Defendant(s) via first class mail with prepaid postage. In addition, attach the appropriate exhibits.
Once you’ve filed and paid the fees, the court clerk will schedule a hearing—normally between 7 and 14 days from the date of issuance of the summons. However, defendants must be given at least 7 days between the date they are formally served with the summons and the court date itself.
The summons can be issued by the sheriff’s department, a private process server, or another adult who is not a party to the eviction and who knows the rules of service. Service fees to county sheriff’s departments and private process servers vary.
If the tenants can’t be served in person, the servers can post the papers on the door of the dwelling or other conspicuous location on the premises.
Once they’ve been served, your defendants must show up in court, or you may receive a summary judgment in your favor (assuming that you’ve filed everything correctly and specified a legal reason for the eviction). Your tenants may also file an Answer or a counterclaim responding to the allegations in your complaint. They may also request a jury trial.
In Colorado, a judge may require you to enter mediation with the tenant/defendant with a trained mediator prior to the hearing.
If you do prevail in court or receive a summary judgment, you can file for possession of the property by completing the Motion for Entry of Judgment (JDF 104). After reviewing it, the court will give you a signed copy of the Order for Entry of Judgment (JDF 107).
Next, the clock starts ticking for the tenants. They have 48 hours from the date of the judgment to vacate the unit. If it doesn’t happen, you can then complete the caption on the Writ of Restitution (JDF 103) and present it to the court, which will generally approve it and contact the sheriff’s department to execute the writ. This means forcibly removing the tenant.
Dealing with evicted tenants’ belongings in Colorado
You’ll receive a time and date from the court or sheriff’s department when they will arrive to execute the writ. If the tenant doesn’t remove their belongings, you’ll have to do so under the supervision of law enforcement; so have a crew of people ready at the appropriate time with boxes, trash bags, and tarps.
Unlike most states, the law does not require Colorado landlords to store tenants’ belongings if they had to resort to a forcible eviction. In this event, you must request that the tenant retrieve his or her belongings, then wait at least 15 days before selling or disposing of them. You can mail the notice to the tenants’ last known address, using registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. If the tenant left their property behind after moving voluntarily, however, you must wait 30 days before disposing of the items, or you can put them into storage. (See Rev. Colorado Statutes Sections 38-20-116 and following as well as 13-40-122.)
If you have monetary damages, such as unpaid back rent to collect, you can then file for garnishment of wages, for a lien on the defendants’ unclaimed property, or both.
Attorney fees and court costs for evictions in Colorado
Colorado is a ‘loser pays’ state. The prevailing party in any action is generally entitled to reasonable attorney fees and court costs; but landlords must specify this in their lease to qualify for recovery, per Colorado Revised Statute 13-14-123.
Where can I learn more about the Colorado eviction process?
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