Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Colorado can take around two weeks to four months, depending on whether the eviction is for illegal activity or another type of eviction. If the tenant files an answer with the court, the process could take longer (read more).
Introduction. It is important for Colorado landlords to follow the state’s laws on eviction as there are very specific rules and procedures. If there are no grounds for eviction, the landlord must wait until the lease has expired. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Colorado.
Step 1: Notice is Posted
Landlords in Colorado can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:
- Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, notice must be served allowing the tenant the option to pay rent in order to avoid eviction.
- Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue before moving forward with the eviction process.
- No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy as long as proper notice is given to the tenant.
- Illegal Activity – If a tenant or any other occupant of the rental unit has engaged in illegal activity, notice must be served before the landlord can evict the tenant.
- Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
- Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when initially moving in, does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then Colorado landlords may obtain a court order to remove the squatter without going through the full eviction process (read more).
Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.
Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent
A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.
According to Colorado law, rent is considered late the day after it’s due, grace periods (if any) are addressed in the lease/rental agreement.
Once rent is past due, the amount of notice landlords must provide depends on the type of tenancy.
For tenants of “exempt” rental properties, meaning where the landlord has five or fewer rental properties, the landlord must provide a 5-Day Notice to Pay if the landlord wants to pursue an eviction action with the court. This notice gives the tenant the option to pay the past due amount in full within five days in order to avoid eviction.
For tenants who have been provided with rental housing by their employer, landlords are only required to provide a 3-Day Notice to Pay, giving the tenant 3 days to pay the rent amount owed in order to avoid eviction.
For all other residential tenancies, landlords must provide tenants with a 10-Day Notice to Pay, giving the tenant an additional 10 days to pay past due rent in order to avoid eviction.
If the tenant does not pay the rent due by the end of the notice period and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement
A tenant can be evicted in Colorado if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease/rental agreement.
Colorado landlords are required to allow tenants to correct or otherwise known as “cure” a lease violation in these instances, but the amount of notice they must provide depends on the type of tenancy. Below are the types of tenancies:
- For tenants of “exempt” rental properties (where the landlord has five or fewer rental properties), the landlord must provide a 5-Day Notice to Comply, giving tenants five days to cure the issue in order to avoid eviction.
- For tenants who have been provided with rental housing by their employer, landlords are only required to provide a 3-Day Notice to Comply, giving tenants three days to correct the issue in order to avoid eviction.
- For all other residential tenancies, landlords must provide tenants with a 10-Day Notice to Comply, allowing tenants an additional 10 days to correct the issue in order to avoid eviction.
Typical lease violations under this category may include violations such as negligently or deliberately damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.
Note that illegal activity is not included in this category.
If the tenant fails to correct the issue within the deadline/remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease
In the state of Colorado, if tenants “holdover,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give the tenant notice before eviction. This includes a tenant without a written lease, week-to-week tenancies and month-to-month tenancies.
Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew the tenancy.
The amount of time required in the notice depends on the length of the tenancy.
- Less Than One Week – For tenancies lasting less than one week, landlords must provide a 1-Day Notice to Quit.
- At-Will and One Week to One Month – For all at-will tenants and any tenancies of more than one week but less than one month, landlords are required to provide a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
- One to Six Months – For tenancies lasting more than one month, but less than six months, landlords are required to provide a 21-Day Notice to Quit.
- Six months to one year – If tenants have lived in the rental unit for at least six months, but less than one year, landlords are required to provide a 28-Day Notice to Quit.
- One Year or Longer – For tenancies lasting one year or longer, landlords must provide tenants with a 91-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant remains on the rental property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for Illegal Activity
Tenants of a rental unit who are involved in illegal activity must be given three days’ written notice before the landlord can proceed with an eviction lawsuit. However, landlords do not need to give the tenant an opportunity to correct the violation, this process is known as an unconditional quit notice. Under Colorado law, these are considered “substantial” violations of a rental agreement/lease.
In Colorado, illegal activity includes:
- Violent felonies
- Physical harm to another tenant/landlord
- Damage to another tenant’s/landlord’s property
- Drug-related felonies
- Criminal acts that carry a 180-day (or more) penalty and are public nuisances under state or local law
Tenants do not have the option of correcting a “substantial” violation and must move out.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served
As the next step in the eviction process, Colorado landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate county court.
In the state of Colorado, this costs $85-$135 in filing fees, depending on whether there’s an amount for rent/damages being claimed by the landlord, and the amount of the claim.
The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by anyone who is 18 years or older who isn’t part of the case at least seven days prior to the eviction hearing through one of the following methods :
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
- Leaving a copy with the tenant’s family member over the age of 18;
- Leaving a copy with the tenant’s supervisor, secretary, administrative assistant, bookkeeper, managing agent, or HR representative; or
- Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental property AND mailing a copy to the tenant via first class mail.
Seven days. The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least seven days prior to the eviction hearing.
Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment
The eviction hearing will be held between 7-14 days after the date the summons was issued by the court.
The tenant may file a written answer prior to the eviction hearing, but this is not a requirement in order to attend the hearing and object to (or contest) the eviction.
However, if the tenant doesn’t provide the court with a written answer at the hearing, the court may rule in favor of the landlord, even if the tenant appears in person at the eviction hearing.
If the tenant fails to appear before the judge for the hearing, it will not be continued, and the judge will make a ruling on the eviction that day.
If the defendant does file a written answer with the court (either at or before the hearing), a second hearing will be set to determine whether the tenant will be allowed to stay in the rental unit and determine how much money is owed to the landlord.
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord at either the initial hearing or a follow-up hearing, a writ of restitution will be issued and the eviction process will proceed.
7-14 days. The initial hearing will be held 7-14 days after the date the summons is issued; if the tenant files an answer, a follow-up hearing will be held, which will add more time to the process.
Step 4: Writ of Restitution Is Issued
The writ of restitution is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit, and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff returns to the rental property to forcibly remove the tenant.
The writ must be issued at least 48 hours after judgment is entered in favor of the landlord.
If the tenant remains in the rental unit after the writ is issued, possession of the rental unit will be forcibly returned to the landlord.
48 hours. The writ of restitution cannot be issued until 48 hours after the court has entered an order in the landlord’s favor.
Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned
The writ of restitution may be executed by a sheriff, deputy sheriff, or undersheriff.
Colorado statutes don’t have a specific time frame of when the sheriff’s department has to execute an eviction notice once it has been received. Instead, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to schedule a time for the eviction with the sheriff’s department.
A few hours to a few days, depending on how quickly the landlord is able to schedule the eviction with the sheriff’s office.
Colorado Eviction Process Timeline
Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Colorado. With that being said, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.
- Initial Notice Period – between 1 and 91 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
- Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – at least 7 days prior to the hearing.
- Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – 7-14 days after the date the summons is issued; longer if the tenant files an answer.
- Issuance of Writ of Restitution – 48 hours after judgment has been entered for the landlord.
- Return of Possession – a few hours to a few days, depending on how quickly the landlord can schedule the eviction with the sheriff’s office.
NOTE. On October 1, 2021, a new bill, SB21-173 went into effect to help renters. The bill includes the following:
- Prohibits landlords from evicting tenants due to unpaid late fees.
- Charging the tenant a late fee in the amount greater than $50 or 5% of the amount of the rent (or whichever is greater).
- Landlords cannot charge late fees for rent until seven days after rent is due.
- Allows tenants to pay any owed rent to their landlords at any time until the court has ordered a writ of restitution.
- Trial dates must be scheduled between seven and ten days after an answer has been filed by the tenant.
- Prohibits tenants to pay interest on late fees.
Landlords found in violation of this bill shall pay a penalty fee of $50 to the tenant for each violation, or the landlord may have seven days after the landlord receives notice to cure the violation. If the landlord does not correct the violations a tenant may bring civil action and recover the following:
- Attorney’s fees and court costs.
- Damages for any loss suffered.
- A minimum of a $150 penalty (or a maximum of $1,000) for each violation.
Additional Tenant Defenses against Eviction Lawsuits. In some cases, a tenant may choose to fight the eviction lawsuit. A denial in an eviction case may happen in the following situations:
- Retaliation- If a tenant complains to the landlord or to a governmental agency regarding the landlord’s refusal to fix a health and safety violation, the eviction case could be dismissed.
- The landlord evicts the tenant without following proper procedures and rules.
- The landlord fails to provide the tenant with a habitable premises.
- If the tenant is a victim of domestic violence or abuse, a landlord does not have grounds to evict.
- If the landlord changes the locks or turns off essential services such as heat, water, electricity, gas, etc. the judge may deny the eviction.
Flowchart of Colorado Eviction Process