In Colorado, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by CRS §38-12-503. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
|Landlord Responsibilities||Windows/Doors, Roof, Hot/Cold Water, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Gas, Sanitation Facilities, Trash Can, Stairs/Railings, Floors|
|Time Limit for Repairs||24 Hours or 96 Hours|
|Tenant Recourse Options||
Applicable Dwelling Types in Colorado
The implied warranty of habitability in Colorado does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|RV parks||Not addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Not addressed|
Mobile homes have their own laws and are not addressed in this article.
Landlord Responsibilities in Colorado
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|
For a property to be unhabitable, the premises must be deemed as unfit for human habitation, or it has to materially interfere to the tenant’s life, health or safety. There should also be no deficiencies in the common areas of the premises.
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. If there is mold associated with dampness that would materially interfere with the health and safety the property could be deemed as uninhabitable if the landlord does not mitigate the risk by installing a containment, stopping active sources of water to the mold, and installing a high-efficiency particulate air filtration device within 96 hours of receiving written or electronic notice.
Landlords are required to provide appropriate extermination services whenever they become necessary.
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.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Colorado
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 in Colorado
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.
- Withhold Rent – Under Colorado laws, the tenant has the right to withhold rent if the landlord fails to make repairs in a timely manner.
- Repair and Deduct – If the rental property is a single-family home and the landlord did not receive any subsidy from the government, the landlord and tenant may agree (in writing) that the tenant shall perform repairs and bring the premises to habitability. The tenant shall inform the landlord at least 10 days prior to the repair and the tenant is allowed to deduct from one or more rent payments to cover the total repair costs.
- Substitute Housing – Tenant is also entitled to a comparable dwelling or a hotel room, as selected and paid for by the landlord, while habitability issues are being resolved. The tenant is still responsible for the rent.
- Lawsuit – Tenants may file a claim in court to recover damages if landlord fails to take care of important repairs.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported to a government authority in the event of any building or health code violation.
Landlord Retaliation in Colorado
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.