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March 2018 Legal Tidbit

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Question: What effect does acceptance of a partial payment of rent have?

Answer: Acceptance by a landlord of a partial payment of rent from a tenant is, first and foremost, a business decision, but it may have legal ramifications. If you have already served a Demand for Compliance or Possession (3 day notice), then your acceptance of a partial payment will be a defense to any eviction case based upon that Demand. So, if you wish to accept a partial payment, serve the tenant with a new Demand for the new balance due. That will give the tenant another 3 days to pay the balance. You can also have the tenant sign a written agreement in which he waives any defense to an eviction on the partially paid Demand. If an eviction case has already begun when the partial payment is tendered, then acceptance of the partial payment will give the tenant a complete defense. If you then dismiss the eviction case, you may not be able to collect the attorney’s fees and court costs for the eviction because you did not prevail in the eviction lawsuit. However, the tenant can sign a written agreement to pay the attorney’s fees as a condition of your acceptance of the partial payment.

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.

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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