Whether you’re hoping to rent or lease, buy or sell, it is important to educate yourself with accurate information about today’s local housing industry, so that you can act in your own best interest. You must be able to identify and separate fact from fiction in Colorado’s current housing market and not fall prey to common misconceptions.

Credit Scores
Disability Laws
Eviction Process Tips
Home Owners Association (HOA) Rules
Security Deposits
Source of Income

How Do Credit Scores Impact Ability to Rent?

Rental housing providers use a number of factors to make rental decisions, including your FICO® Score. They look at information such as the amount of debt you can reasonably handle given your income, your employment history, and your rental and credit history.

Based on this, rental housing providers may rent to you even if your score is low, or decline your request for credit even if your score is high.

Unfortunately, bad credit cannot be repaired overnight. It takes time, and there is no quick way to fix a credit score. Beware of quick-fix ideas for repairing credit; they often backfire. The best advice for rebuilding credit is to manage it responsibly over time.

See the Federal Trade Commission’s credit repair guide for more information on how to improve your credit.

Credit Repair Tips

What Are the Laws Governing Service Animals?

If you are a disabled tenant and need a service or support animal to fully enjoy the community, then you have the right to request permission to have one.

Contact your rental housing provider and submit a written request for the animal and explain why you need the animal as a result of your disability.

In most cases, a rental housing provider can ask you to provide documentation from your doctor or other medical provider attesting to (1) the existence of our disability and (2) explaining the nexus between the disability and the needs that are satisfied by the animal.

A rental housing provider has the right to make sure that the animal is properly licensed, vaccinated, does not have a history of aggressive or dangerous behaviors, and that otherwise will follow the rules of the community.

Once approved, the rental housing provider is allowed to ask you to sign and abide by a service/support animal addendum, requiring you to maintain control over the animal, pick up after the animal, comply with leash laws, and more. You may also have to consent to DNA testing for the animal.

Once approved, a rental housing provider is not entitled to require an additional deposit for the service/support animal or charge you pet rent. Your animal is not a pet.

If you or the animal violate the terms of the lease or service animal addendum, you may be required to remove the animal.

Learn more by visiting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s disability resources here.

What Happens During the Eviction Process?

A “ten day notice” means ten-day notice of non-payment. After a ten-day notice is served to tenant for non-payment, eviction filings can start.

Upon receipt of a ten-day notice, you should contact your rental housing provider, explain your situation, and see if they will give an extension so you can see if you qualify for any subsidies. Remember to get any promises in writing!

Then you should contact various resources to see if you qualify for any kind of subsidy or help from the government or from various charities such as DHS, Brothers Redevelopment, Trua, or TBRA. Keep in mind that most government programs and charities receive tenant funds on or around the first of the month, and such funds are often given away to tenants by the tenth of the month.

You must take your ten-day notice to the government entities or charities as soon as possible. Most charities cannot help you unless and until you have received a ten-day notice. Unfortunately, waiting to apply for help until a court action for eviction has started is sometimes too late. You must act fast and get on the list for funds as soon as possible before they are gone.

If you do not qualify for subsidies or help from any charity (or they do not have funds available), then you should ask your rental housing provider if you can enter into a payment plan to pay over a 30 day period or more. Payment plans must be in writing.

Most payment plans require you to stay current on your rent while paying a little extra each week (or pay period) to get caught up on the back amounts. The worst thing you can do is not talk to your rental housing provider quickly and explain your situation.

Eviction Process

Rental housing providers are people too. They often understand temporary setbacks and are willing to work with tenants to allow them time to get caught up. However, keep in mind that if there have been repeated late payments (or other breaches of lease during the past year), a rental housing provider may be less willing to help you. In some cases, you may need to look for an alternative, more affordable living situation. Often that means living with a roommate or a family member until you can get back on your feet. And sometimes it could mean moving farther away from your desired location to get the space and amenities you want at a price you can afford.

Eviction can be a stressful situation. If you fear you may be evicted, click here for additional information and resources to help you navigate the process.

What Can I Do if I’m Facing Eviction?

If you have received eviction paperwork (called a “Summons and Complaint in Unlawful Detainer”), look at the summons for the date, time, and location of your court appearance. It is strongly recommended that you appear in court on that date at the correct time. Normally, either the rental housing provider or the attorney for the rental housing provider will be there. The court requires the rental housing provider or attorney to speak to you and try to work out a resolution (called a Stipulation) to settle the case without the sheriff coming out to remove you and your belongings from the property. This is always a last resort and something neither party wants.

Stipulations are helpful, as they normally give you more time to pay or to move. They sometimes include language to waive penalties, such as some of the late fees. Some Stipulations state that if you comply, there will be no eviction on your record and the case will be dismissed. These are all more favorable solutions than simply skipping your court date.

If you fail to appear in court, an eviction order will enter against you by default, and an order for the sheriff to remove you from the property (called a Writ of Restitution) may be issued after 48 hours.

Some courts also have assistance for tenants at the courthouse. In Denver County, there is a self-help desk where tenants can go for advice and guidance in eviction cases. There is also a representative from DHS who can meet with you to discuss if you qualify for a subsidy, food stamps, or other housing assistance. While it is always wise to contact such programs before the eviction, please know that appearing in court on your designated court date and time gives you another opportunity to find the help you may need to avoid being forcibly evicted.

In Denver, charity programs such as Brothers Redevelopment and Del Norte NDC are great resources.

What Are Home Owners Association (HOA) Rules?

The word HOA, or homeowners association, refers to communities or buildings that are governed by covenants which are recorded on the land itself. Anyone who owns or resides in a property governed by an HOA must abide by the covenants as well as any community rules passed by the HOA board.

These rules are designed to maintain the property values of the community and ensure that occupants are neighborly and considerate of others. When a tenant signs a lease for a property in an HOA, the lease requires the tenant to follow the community rules of the HOA and to pay any fines resulting from not following the rules.

The most common HOA violations include speeding in the community, improper parking, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, improper trash disposal, clutter on your patio, etc. Breach of the HOA rules and/or failure to pay the fines are grounds for eviction.

If you receive a letter of violation from the HOA, it is important to tell your rental housing provider. If you have not committed a violation, there is a process for disputing a fine before it is assessed, if prompt action is taken by you and/or the rental housing provider.

What Are Security Deposits?

Colorado law requires a rental housing provider to refund your deposit, less any lawful deductions to you after you move out. Normally, a rental housing provider has 30 to 60 days to return your deposit, depending on your lease terms.

You should get your deposit back if you comply with the terms of your lease and any applicable rules; give proper advanced written notice of your intent to vacate the rental unit at the end of your lease term; leave the rental unit on time, in clean and undamaged condition; and turn in your keys/remotes, etc. However, if you fail to pay the rent when due, fail to give proper notice, fail to clean the unit as required by the lease, or leave the property damaged (other than normal wear and tear such as worn tread on the carpet; contact management for specific clarifications), funds may be deducted from your deposit. Sometimes your deposit is not enough to cover all the damages or charges and you may owe money over and above the deposit. Be sure you understand the terms of the lease before leaving your current apartment.

If you do not receive a refund or accounting for deposit after 60 days, contact your rental housing provider to ask him to provide more information. Communication with the rental housing provider often works to solve any oversight in this regard. But if a landlord fails or refuses to follow the laws of accounting, you, as a tenant, do have the right to take a rental housing provider to small claims court. If you win, you would be able to recover your money. Bear in the mind, however, that a rental housing provider is also entitled to countersue you for damages and unpaid charges.

If your rental housing provider wins, you could have to pay the damages and charges, plus all of the rental housing provider’s attorney’s fees and costs (they are allowed to hire an attorney, even in small claims court, if they wish). Always start with talking to your rental housing provider and trying to resolve disputes out of court first.

What Does Source of Income Mean?

There are two cities in Colorado which have passed ordinances which prohibit rental housing providers from discriminating against a tenant because of their source of income. This means that rental housing providers must accept all legal sources of income, including:

  • Section 8 vouchers
  • Student loans
  • Social Security disability income
  • or other subsidies

A tenant must otherwise qualify under a rental housing provider’s standard screening policies and may still be denied for other reasons, such as criminal history, poor rent history, etc.