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Can I Evict My Tenant?

What landlords need to know in Colorado

If you’ve put your hard work and hard-earned paychecks into a rental property that you’ve rented out to a tenant, and they’ve trashed the place—nearly destroying the property—what can you do?

To evict a tenant in Colorado ,you must pursue an action under the Forcible Entry and Detainer law, which governs the process which must be followed to remove a tenant. This law is more of a preventative measure; it stops landlords from engaging in the dangerous behavior of forcing a client off a property—which can end in the worst of situations.

The law further states that a landlord must give three days of notice for a tenant to fix a deficiency or leave the property. This notice is called a Demand for Compliance or Right to Possession Notice (JDF 101), or a Notice to Quit (JDF 97). After this waiting period, a landlord may file with the courts to begin removal proceedings. For a more detailed explanation, see this form, which states that you will have to pay $97 in fees per each tenant you’d like to evict.

Once the filing process is complete, most hearings will take place within two weeks of the initial filing, absent any appeals or continuances. You can then plan on at least another 48 hours to receive and execute a writ of restitution, which essentially forces the former tenant out under law enforcement supervision. In practice, the process usually takes about 25 days, or about 30 days for mobile home lots.

There are four reasons a landlord can evict a tenant:

  • A default in the payment of rent
  • A violation of a condition or covenant of the agreement, generally leaving the property in disrepair
  • A public trustee sale
  • Being convicted of a substantial violation, meaning a violent or anti-social act

There are also many prohibited reasons for evicting someone, and each of these should be avoided at all costs by landlords:

  • A landlord may not evict in retaliation for complaints filed by the tenant about the condition of the property
  • You cannot discriminate against a tenant on the basis of race, color, familial status, disability, religion, sex or national origin
  • Further, Colorado law prohibits discrimination on the basis of ancestry, creed, belief systems, marital status or sexual orientation—and some cities have added additional protected classes
  • You cannot evict someone because they have a service or therapy animal, even if animals are prohibited in the lease

If a tenant hasn’t removed their belongings within 48 hours after receiving the judgement from the court, you will need to have call in law enforcement for supervision. It’s probably best practice to keep any belongings left by tenants for 30 days, and give them notice of how to collect those belongings.

The prevailing party in any action is generally entitled to reasonable attorney fees and court costs, but landlords must specify this in their lease to qualify for recovery. In these situations, the best practice is to find an experienced and reputable attorney.

If you'd like more general information about this area of the law, see our landlord and tenant law overview.

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