How Do Credit Scores Impact Ability to Rent?

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

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

What Are the Laws Governing Service Animals?

If a disabled resident and needs a service or support animal to fully enjoy the community, the resident has the right to request permission to have one.

Contact the rental housing provider and submit a written request for the animal and explain why the animal is needed as a result of a disability.

In most cases, a rental housing provider may ask that a resident provide documentation from a doctor or other medical provider attesting to (1) the existence of a 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 the resident to sign and abide by a service/support animal addendum, requiring the resident to maintain control over the animal, pick up after the animal, comply with leash laws, and more. The resident 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 pet rent.

If there is a violation the terms of the lease or service animal addendum, the resident 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 “10-day notice” means 10-day notice of non-payment. After a 10-day notice is served to resident for non-payment, eviction filings can start.

Upon receipt of a 10-day notice, the resident should contact the housing provider, explain the situation, and see if it will give an extension. Remember, all agreements and promises should be in writing.

The resident should contact various resources to see if they qualify for any of subsidies or help from the government or from nonprofits such as DHS, Brothers Redevelopment, TRUA, or TBRA. Keep in mind that most government programs and nonprofits receive resident funds on or around the first of the month, and such funds are often given away to residents by the 10th of the month.

Residents must take the 10-day notice to the government entities or nonprofits as soon as possible. Most nonprofits cannot help residents unless and until a resident has received a 10-day notice. Unfortunately, waiting to apply for help until a court action for eviction has started is sometimes too late. Residents must act fast and get on the list for funds as soon as possible before they are gone.

If a resident does not qualify for subsidies or help from any nonprofit (or they do not have funds available), then a resident should ask his or her rental housing provider if a resident 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 a resident to stay current on rent while paying a little extra each week (or pay period) to get caught up on the back amounts. The worst thing a resident can do is not talk to the rental housing provider quickly and explain the situation.

Rental housing providers are people, too. They often understand temporary setbacks and often are willing to work with residents 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 residents. In some cases, residents may need to look for an alternative, more affordable living situation.

Eviction can be a stressful situation. If a resident fears eviction, click here for additional information and resources to help in navigating the process.

What Can I Do if I’m Facing Eviction?

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

Stipulations are helpful, as they normally give residents 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 a resident complies, there will be no eviction on the resident's record and the case will be dismissed. These are all more favorable solutions than skipping the court date.

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

Some courts also have assistance for residents at the courthouse. In Denver County, there is a self-help desk where residents can go for advice and guidance in eviction cases. There is also a representative from DHS who can meet with residents to discuss if they 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 the designated court date and time gives the resident another opportunity to find the help needed to avoid being forcibly evicted.

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

What Are Home Owners Association (HOA) Rules?

The term 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 resident signs a lease for a property in an HOA, the lease requires the resident 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 a resident receives a letter of violation from the HOA, it is important to inform the rental housing provider. If the resident has not committed a violation, there is a process for disputing a fine before it is assessed, if prompt action is taken by the resident and/or the rental housing provider.

What Are Security Deposits?

Colorado law requires a rental housing provider to refund a rental deposit, minus any lawful deductions to the resident after they move out. Normally, a rental housing provider has 30 to 60 days to return deposits, depending on the lease terms.

The resident should get the deposit back if they comply with the terms of the lease and any applicable rules; give proper advanced written notice of the intent to vacate the rental unit at the end of the lease term; leave the rental unit on time, and in clean and undamaged condition; and turn in the keys/remotes, etc. However, if the resident fails to pay the rent when due, fails to give proper notice, fails 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 the deposit. Sometimes the deposit is not enough to cover all the damages or charges and a resident may owe money over and above the deposit. Be sure to understand the terms of the lease before leaving the current apartment.

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

If the rental housing provider wins, the resident 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). Always start with talking to the rental housing provider and try to resolve disputes out of court first.

What Does Source of Income Mean?

There are two cities in Colorado that have passed ordinances that prohibit rental housing providers from discriminating against a resident because of their source of income. They are City of Boulder and the City and County of Denver. This means that rental housing providers must accept all legal sources of income in these cities, including:

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

A resident must otherwise qualify under a rental housing provider’s standard screening policy and may still be denied for other reasons, such as criminal history, poor rent history, and more. Click here to read more information on source of income.

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