Landlord-tenant issues confront many people on a daily basis. The attorneys at Albrechta & Albrechta can help landlords or tenants with their legal issues. From premises liability to security deposits, and from evictions to drafting rental agreements - Albrechta & Albrechta can help you with the legal side of any landlord-tenant relationship. Additionally, we can assist you with converting a standard lease to something more permanent, like a lease with an option to purchase or a land installment contract. Our attorneys can help orchestrate your legal objectives. Contact us today.
Colorado's Warranty of Habitability
As a tenant you do have certain legal rights that can be violated by your landlord. If a serious violation occurs it is important that you act quickly. The most common tenant issues revolve around the Warranty of Habitability. This common law warranty was adopted by the Colorado General Assembly and written into the Colorado Revised Code (C.R.S.) in 2009 (C.R.S. § 38-12-503). In general, the statute states that "In every rental agreement, the landlord is deemed to warrant that the residential premises is fit for human habitation." To determine whether your issue is covered by Colorado's Warranty of Habitability please review the following points to see if your issue falls under any of these categories:
- Waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls - including unbroken windows and doors;
- Plumbing or gas facilities;
- Running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times furnished to appropriate fixtures and connected to a sewage disposal system;
- Functioning heating facilities that conformed to applicable law at the time of installation and that are maintained in good working order;
- Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that conformed to applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order;
- Common areas and areas under the control of the landlord that are kept reasonably clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, and garbage and that have appropriate extermination in response to the infestation of rodents or vermin;
- Appropriate extermination in response to the infestation of rodents or vermin throughout a residential premises;
- An adequate number of appropriate exterior receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in good repair;
- Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair;
- Locks on all exterior doors and locks or security devices on windows designed to be opened that are maintained in good working order; or
- Compliance with all applicable building, housing, and health codes, which, if violated, would constitute a condition that is dangerous or hazardous to a tenant's life, health, or safety. (C.R.S. § 38-12-505)
Again, if you are a tenant and your apartment or leased space violates any of these points above, please contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Timing is important in these cases and you should not delay your response. If your issue does not match any of the items listed above that does not mean that you do not have protections. Colorado also recognizes the implied warranty of quiet enjoyment and other common law protections for tenants.
Security deposits often become a point of contention between landlords and tenants. Especially when the relationship is coming to an end. It is important for landlords and tenants to understand that the security deposit does not belong to the landlord. It is theoretically held in trust by the landlord until the end of the lease. In order to keep any portion of the security deposit the landlord must have cause above and beyond normal wear and tear.
If your lease does not state how long your landlord has to return your security deposit then it must be returned within 30 days after the termination of the lease. A lease agreement may provide the landlord up to 60 days to return a security deposit. However, a lease that allows a landlord more than 60 days to return your security deposit is in violation of Colorado Law. (C.R.S. § 38-12-103).
A landlord may not keep a security deposit for normal wear and tear during a tenants lease. A landlord may keep portions of a security deposit if there is damage over and above normal wear and tear. However, the landlord must provide a written statement with the exact reasons that portions of the security deposit is not being returned. Additionally, a landlord may not keep any portion of a security deposit to cover unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, for abandonment of the property, or repair work contracted for by the tenant. (C.R.S. § 38-12-103).
As a landlord it can often feel like the laws and processes regarding your rental property are working against you. However, legal advice at every step in the process can make your job as a landlord much more simple. Drafting a lease agreement that does not violate the tenants' rights but protects your rights as a landlord is crucial. Simply pulling a form from the internet without legal review could provide your tenants with claims and defenses against you and could even result in invalidating the lease agreement. The lease agreement is the glue that holds this relationship together and provides you with options as a landlord if the tenant is violating his/her obligations. Albrechta & Albrechta is happy to review existing leases or draft new leases for your rental property needs.
Evictions are never fun and no one likes wasting time going to court. Obtaining legal advice about this process before it begins can help it proceed more smoothly and can help ensure that you achieve your desired outcome. Albrechta & Albrechta can assist you with providing notice to the tenants and ultimately filing a forcible entry and detainer action if necessary.
Vacation rentals are another type of relationship that property owners may be dealing with. Just like traditional landlord-tenant relationships it is important that your agreements with short-term tenants are binding and enforceable. It is important to have these agreements reviewed by a Colorado attorney to ensure that your rights as the property owner are protected and that you can recover damages from the tenants if anything happens to your property during their stay.