Colorado Habitability Laws

QUICK FACTS
  • Landlord Responsibilities. Landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords are required to make and pay for any necessary repairs that affect habitability that are not caused by the tenant. They must do so within 1-4 days after receiving a reasonably complete request from tenants (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenants can withhold rent, find substitute housing, and have the right to repair and deduct, and report the issue to a government authority or file a lawsuit (read more).
  • Retaliation. If a landlord is reported to a government authority for housing code violations, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate, such as by threatening eviction (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in Colorado does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are & aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs Not addressed
RV parks Not addressed
Mobile home parks Not addressed
Condos Not addressed
Hotels/Motels Not addressed

Mobile homes have their own special laws and are not addressed in this article.

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Colorado, as indicated below.

Note: some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability Issue Landlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair. Yes
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks. Yes
Provide hot and cold running water. Yes
Provide working HVAC equipment. Yes
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting. Yes
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking Yes
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet). Yes
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services). Yes
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe. Yes
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe. Yes
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean. Not addressed
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials. Not addressed
Provide working smoke detectors Not addressed
Provide a mailbox. Not addressed
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack. Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances. Yes (if already provided)
Provide working carbon monoxide detector. No
Provide a working washer/dryer. No

Mold

In addition to the above, Colorado landlords are required to ensure that there is no mold on the rental property and that there are no conditions that cause continual dampness in the rental property

Pest Control

Landlords are required to provide appropriate extermination services whenever they become necessary.

Security

Finally, Colorado landlords must provide working locks for all exterior doors, and working locks or security devices must be provided for all windows that open.

Making Repairs

Landlords are required under Colorado law to make repairs and do what is necessary to keep the property in a fit and habitable condition.

  • Sending Notice – The tenant must send a written notice regarding any habitability issue. The landlord is given 24 to 96 hours to respond and make the repair. If the landlord fails to make necessary repairs within the time frame given by law, the tenant must send a second notice. The landlord must provide an estimate cost of repair within 96 hours upon receipt of the second notice. Failure to do so allows the tenant to take matters into their own hands.
  • Landlord Access – Unless addressed in the rental or lease agreement or stated in the written notice, tenants are not required to give landlords access to the property, not even to make necessary repairs.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If repairs aren’t made within 24 hours where the condition materially interferes with the life, health, and safety of the tenant or 96 hours where the premises is deemed unfit for human habitation, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.

  1. Withhold rentunder Colorado laws, the tenant has the right to withhold rent if the landlord fails to make repairs in a timely manner.
  2. Repair and deduct – tenant who satisfies certain conditions is allowed to deduct from one or more rent payments the total repair costs to remedy a condition causing breach.
  3. Substitute housing – tenant is also entitled to a comparable dwelling, as selected and paid for by the landlord, while habitability issues are being resolved.
  4. Lawsuit – tenants may file a claim in court to recover damages if landlord fails to take care of important repairs
  5. Reporting to Public Officials – landlords can be reported to a Government authority in the event of any building or health code violation.

Landlord Retaliation

Landlords cannot retaliate against a tenant who has requested that necessary repairs be made. Colorado tenants have the right to

  • file an official complaint to a Government Authority about a building or health code violation
  • join a tenant’s organization or joining a tenants’ union
  • withhold rent
  • file an action against the landlord in the appropriate court

Retaliatory actions by the landlord include:

  • increasing the rent
  • threatening to remove or evict the tenant from the property
  • decreasing essential services such as gas or water supply
  • refusing to perform necessary maintenance and repairs
  • removing tenant’s possessions from the property
  • changing the locks to the unit or property
  • harassing the tenant in any means

Under Colorado state law, these acts of retaliation are considered illegal.

Sources