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November Legal Tidbit

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Question: After I have served a Demand on my tenant for non-payment, what are my choices?

Answer: If the tenant pays the amount demanded (or the amount legally due) in full within the three days following the date on which the Demand was delivered, the landlord has no choice but to accept the payment and allow the tenant to stay. The landlord may refuse or reject a partial payment. If a partial payment is accepted, then a new demand for the balance still due should be served. Once the three days have passed, the landlord is not required by law to accept it and may instead require the tenant to vacate by
commencing an eviction lawsuit.

October 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: Is my tenant liable to pay for the attorney’s fees I incur to evict him?

Answer: The Colorado eviction law does not provide for the award of statutory attorney’ fees. However, your written lease may have language saying that the prevailing party in any court action will be entitled to recover his attorney’s fees. Note, that if you start the eviction and accept rent from the tenant without collecting those fees with the understanding that you will dismiss the eviction case, then you have not prevailed and are not entitled to the attorney’s fees. Since you are not legally required to accept rent after expiration of the three day, after the three day period, you can require that the tenant pay the past due rent and any attorney’s fees regardless of the terms of the lease as a condition to your acceptance of rent, dismissal of the eviction case, and agreement to allow the tenant to stay.

September 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: What can I do with a tenant who addresses me and my management staff in a rude, foul-mouthed, threatening, abusive and/or insulting manner?

Answer: Your written lease should have language in it that prohibits the tenant from interfering with the operation of the management staff, or the property. (If not, add it to your lease.) The behavior is a lease violation. Notify the tenant in writing that the behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If it persists, notify the tenant in writing that all communications with staff must be in writing, that he not to enter the management office, and that if he enters the management office he will be trespassing and the police will be called and asked to arrest him. You may also serve a Demand for Compliance or Possession giving the tenant 3 days to terminate his unacceptable behavior. If the behavior is repeated after the expiration of 3 days from the Demand, serve a Notice to Quit for Repeat Violation and, if necessary, evict.

August 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: When is the written accounting of the retention of the tenant’s security deposit due?

Answer: The Colorado security deposit law requires that the landlord’s written accounting explaining the use of the tenant’s security deposit be sent “within one month after the termination of a lease or surrender and acceptance of the premises, whichever occurs last… unless the lease agreement specifies a longer period of time, but not to exceed sixty days.” So, if a tenant signs a one year lease on March 1, 2017, ending February 28, 2018, but abandons the rental or is evicted on June 1, 2017, since the lease does not expire until the following February 28, the accounting is not due until a month (or up to sixty days) after February 28, 2018! However, don’t wait. If possible, send the accounting within several weeks of the date that you receive the rental premises back into your possession.

July 2017 Legal Tidbit

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The 71st Colorado Legislature was busy this term on behalf of tenants. They passed Senate Bill 245 changing the minimum time period for a landlord to give notice to a month-to-month tenant that his tenancy is to end, or that the rent is going up, from seven (7) days to twenty-one (21) days. Governor Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law. The new rule is set to go into effect on August 9, 2017. Assuming that a month-to-month tenant pays his rent on the first of the month, if a landlord wishes to terminate the tenancy and require the tenant to move out, the landlord’s Notice to Quit must be served upon the tenant or posted on his door at least 21 days before the last day of the month. Note that, as before, while Colorado law does not require the landlord to have or give a reason for such termination, the landlord still must have a non-discriminatory reason for the termination of the tenancy under federal and Colorado housing discrimination laws.

June 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: Can a victim of stalking or sexual assault get out of his or her lease?

Answer: Apropos of the above cartoon, the answer in Colorado shall soon be yes. During the recent legislative session, the Colorado House and Senate passed a new law adding victims of stalking and sexual assault to victims of domestic violence as persons who may vacate their rentals and terminate their leases regardless of the terms of the written leases. Victims must provide their landlord with a police report or statement from a qualified medical professional and must actually vacate. Once they move out, the lease is terminated and the tenant's liability will be limited to one additional month’s rent beyond the move-out date. Governor Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.

May 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: What does a resident need to show in order to obtain a reasonable accommodation or modification under Fair Housing law?

Answer: A resident must have a disability as defined within Fair Housing law, the requested accommodation (change in property policy, practice, or procedure) or modification (change in the physical condition of the property) must be reasonable, and must be related to the resident’s disability so as to allow the resident the use and enjoyment of the property.

April 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: What is a Demand for Compliance or Possession used for?

Answer: This notice is used when a tenant has violated one or more terms of his lease, including a failure to pay rent. It gives the tenant three days within which to bring himself within compliance of the terms of the lease.

March 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: Must I accept an applicant who will use a Section 8 voucher to pay his/her rent?

Answer: Generally, no. Because of the additional obligations imposed on a landlord in the acceptance of Section 8 voucher tenants, such as the requirement to enter into a “HAP Agreement” with, and submit to a property inspection by, the administering housing authority, a landlord is not obligated to accept Section 8 voucher tenants. However, the U.S. Housing Act does require landlords to accept a new Sec. 8 applicant when the property has accepted other such applicants. So, generally, it is “take one, take all.” This rule is narrow, however. A landlord who allowed some existing tenants who ran into financial problems to use Sec. 8 vouchers may still refuse to accept a new applicant for housing who would use a Sec. 8 voucher, even where the applicant sought the use of the voucher as a reasonable accommodation of a disability. Efforts by some cities to require landlords to accept Sec. 8 vouchers have so far been unsuccessful.

February 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: When can I reject a resident’s rent payment?

Answer: If the lease has just expired, there has been no lease renewal, and the resident is to vacate, any acceptance of rent by the landlord for a period after the date of lease expiration will start a month-to-month tenancy. So, to avoid starting the month-to-month tenancy and preserve the landlord’s right to evict, that rent payment may be rejected. If the landlord has served a Demand for Compliance or Possession (3 Day Notice) due to non-payment, a partial payment within the three days may be rejected. Any payment made after the three day deadline has passed may also be rejected. Reject a payment by mailing a refund of the rejected payment amount with a written letter stating that the payment has been rejected and why within two business days of the date the payment was received. Keep copies of your letter stating that the payment has been rejected as well as the refund check.

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