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Civil Fugitives - Landlord/Tenant Relationship - Eviction Information

The procedure for the eviction of a tenant from rental property is regulated by statute. The legal process is called an action in "forcible entry and detainer" (FED). Courts insist on strict compliance with the statutory requirements.

 

WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR EVICTION?

  • The lease controls when the landlord may end the tenancy and take steps to evict the tenant. If there is no written lease, the Colorado statutes control. The most commons reasons for eviction are: Non-payment of rent, violation of the lease provisions and "No Cause" if there is no agreement as to the term of occupancy. If there is no such agreement, the landlord does not need a reason to terminate the tenancy and can evict the tenant after giving the proper notice. This ability to evict for "no cause" is limited. It does not apply to eviction from publicly subsidized housing. Also, eviction because of the race, creed, religion, sex, handicap, color, national origin, ancestry, marital status or familial status of the tenant is unlawful. Endangerment of person or property on the premises or committing a violent or drug related felony on or near the premises

WHAT NOTICE IS REQUIRED?

  • The first step in the eviction process is service of proper written notice. Verbal requests for the tenant to vacate are never sufficient. The notice that is required varies depending upon the reason for eviction. Non-Payment of Rent. The landlord must give written notice to the tenant by personally serving or posting in a conspicuous place the notice called "Demand for Compliance or Possession." This notice gives the tenant a choice of paying in three days the full amount of the rent that is due or giving up possession of the unit within three days. The right to this notice cannot be waived in the lease. In calculating the three day period, do not count the day that notice is given. The three-day period also does not include weekends or holidays. If the tenant pays the rent in the three-day period, the landlord must accept it. If the tenant does not pay and does not move out, the eviction process can continue.
    • Violation of the Lease. The landlord must give proper notice to the tenant by personally serving or posting in a conspicuous place, the notice called "Demand for Compliance or Possession. This notice explains the violation of the lease and gives the tenant the alternative of correcting the breach within three days or vacating the unit within three days. If the tenant does not move out or cure the breach by the end of the three day period, the landlord may file an eviction suit
    • No Cause. A tenant with a month-to-month periodic tenancy may be evicted at the end of any rental period if the landlord gives the proper notice. The landlord must give notice to the tenant by personally serving or posting in a conspicuous place a "Notice to Vacate." This notice must be delivered to the tenant at least ten days before the rent is due (assuming a month-to-month tenancy). If the tenant does not move out by the end of the rental period, the landlord may file and eviction suit to regain possession of the unit
    • End of Term. No written notice is required if the lease term ends on a certain day and there is not automatic extension of the term given in the lease. If the tenant does not move out by the end of the term, the landlord can immediately begin an eviction action

WHAT ARE THE LEGAL EVICTION PROCEDURES?

  • Proper Court. A forcible entry and detainer action may be brought in either the district court or the county court where the property is located. Most residential cases are brought in the county court
    • Summons and Complaint. The landlord may file a summons and complaint, without the assistance of an attorney, in the county court. In all counties there is a filing fee. Contact the court to find out the amount of these fees
      • The complaint must state the grounds for eviction, a description of the property, the name of the tenant and a request for possession of the property. The complaint may also include a claim for back rent, accruing rent, and other damages. An answer form for the tenant to complete should accompany the Summons and Complaint
      • The summons requires the tenant to appear at the court on a given day at a certain time. The day for appearance must be no more than ten days and no less than five days from the day the summons is issued. Weekends and holidays are not included in calculating the five day time period. The summons also warns the tenant about the consequences of failing to answer the complaint and the possibility of a default judgment
      • The landlord should bring four copies of the summons and complaint to the county court. These forms can be obtained at some stationery stores or legal supply stores
    • Service. Service of the summons and complaint is in accordance with the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Service must be made at least five days before the appearance date stated in the summons. A copy of the complaint must accompany the summons. The service may be made by the Sheriff’s Office for a fee. Contact the Sheriff’s Office to arrange for service.
      • Service by posting is also allowed, but only after efforts to make personal service are unsuccessful. If service is made by posting, the landlord must also mail a copy by first-class mail, postage prepaid, on the same day that the complaint is filed. If service by posting is the only way that service is accomplished, the landlord can only recover possession of the unit and will not be able to get a judgment for unpaid rent or damages (unless the tenant chooses to file and answer and the landlord prevails at trial).
    • Answer. The tenant must file a written answer at or before the time when the tenant is ordered to appear in court. There is a fee to file an answer. The answer may deny the charges of the complaint and list any claims the tenant may have against the landlord. IF THE TENANT DOES NOT FILE AN ANSWER THE LANDLORD WILL RECEIVE A DEFAULT JUDGMENT.
    • Trial. At the trial, the judge may rule in favor of the landlord or the tenant. If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the court may order the tenant not only to vacate the unit, but also to pay back rent and/or damages. Attorney’s fees and court costs may be awarded to the prevailing party
    • Writ of Restitution. After a judgment against the tenant, the tenant has 48 hours to vacate. After that time, the landlord can get a Writ of Restitution and deliver it to the Sheriff. The Sheriff may then forcibly evict the tenant, that is, move the tenant’s possessions onto the street. Neither the Sheriff nor the landlord is under a legal duty to safeguard the tenant’s possessions after they have been removed

ARE LOCKOUTS LEGAL?

  • No. Lockouts are illegal. Landlords that resort to illegal self-help remedies to deny the tenant access to the unit may become liable for damages for a wrongful eviction. If the tenant has been locked out of the unit, the tenant may break the lock to enter. Tenants cannot be prosecuted for breaking into their units. At most, the tenant will be held liable for the cost of the repair to the lock on the door. However, a tenant may be arrested for breaking or re-entering, if the police have reason to suspect that breaking and entering is occurring. Seek legal advice from an attorney before breaking the lock
  • The locks may be changed if the Writ of Restitution has been executed by the Sheriff. After the eviction has taken place, the tenant cannot enter the unit without the permission of the landlord

WHAT SHOULD A LANDLORD DO IF A TENANT HAS ABANDONED THE UNIT?

  • If it appears that the tenant has moved out and does not intend to return, the landlord may take over possession of the unit without resorting to the judicial eviction process (if no longer valuable personal property is left behind).

WHAT SHOULD A LANDLORD DO IF A TENANT LEAVES PROPERTY BEHIND?

  • The landlord should make a reasonable effort to contact the former tenant. If the landlord has not heard from the tenant or is not aware of the tenant’s intention to NOT abandon the property, the landlord may proceed to sell the property in accordance with law. The landlord may also have the property removed from the unit pursuant to the execution of a Writ of Restitution. This method of property removal and disposal is the least likely to result in liability to the landlord
  • If the abandoned property is a motor vehicle, different procedures must be followed. Contact an attorney or the local law enforcement agency

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Colorado Civil Rights Commission 303.894.2997 or the United States Fair Housing Enforcement Center 303.672.5437.

NOTE: This is intended only to be a guide for both landlord and tenant. This information is provided to you as a service of the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office. Should you still need further assistance in regard to legal matters mentioned in this guide, please contact an attorney of your choice.

 

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