The Colorado rental application form is used to evaluate whether a potential renter is the right choice for their property. The information collected provides insight into rental history, income, and other factors that can help the landlord to make an informed decision.
Colorado Laws on Rental Application Fees
While there is no maximum application fee that can be charged to Colorado rental applicants. The amount charged must be relative to the cost of screening services and the landlord’s time investment into completing the screening. The landlord is required to disclose the expected or actual cost of the screening and review process, which should include an itemized report and a receipt for the collected fee. (Colorado Rental Application Fairness Act (2019)
To prevent discrimination liability, the fee charged must be the same for all applicants and if the landlord owns multiple properties, it should stay uniform throughout all properties for rent. Any unused application fees must be returned within 20 days.
If an applicant is approved, there is no limit on the amount of security deposit Colorado landlords can require (except for mobile home parks). A landlord is not required to provide a receipt for a security deposit and there is no procedure for how security deposit funds must be held.
What Colorado Rental Application Forms Can’t Ask About
The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:
- National Origin (Nationality)
- Familial Status (Having or not having children)
- Disability (Physical or mental)
As a result, asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is illegal.
Additionally, Colorado state laws add additional protections for the following classes:
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
Asking about any of these criteria is not allowed, nor may they be considered when determining eligibility. Additional protections may vary by local municipality.
Exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In Colorado, the following exemptions are allowed:
- Familial Status – it is acceptable to ask about and base an application decision on age or if children will occupy the rented premises in the case that the property is designated as senior housing according to the “Housing for Older Persons” exemption, which applies to certain properties with age restrictions of 55+ or 62+.
- “Mrs. Murphy Exemption” – single family dwellings which are renting a single room are exempt from Fair Housing Laws if the landlord or owner lives in the dwelling.
- Religious Organizations – preferential consideration can be given for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent for commercial purposes. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
- Private Clubs – as long as they don’t discriminate in accepting members, private clubs that operate without public access may provide preferential treatment for lodgings owned or operated by the club without commercial intent. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
Federally, race is a non-exemption criteria that cannot have an influence on the choice of whether to rent to an applicant in any scenario.
Consent for Background Checks
Before a landlord can run a credit check based on the prospective tenant’s information on the submitted rental application, the Federal Credit Reporting Act requires that written consent must be given by the applicant. This written consent can be given via a statement of such and signature on the rental application form itself (like in our free template), or via a separate consent form (such as this one).
Processing a Rental Application
The next step in the tenant screening process is to use the information on the rental application form to conduct a background check:
- Credit Check – subject to the tenant’s written consent by the Federal Credit Reporting Act, a credit check will either provide a simpler “pass/fail” report, or a full credit report including the tenant’s credit score and information about their income, employment, past addresses, credit inquiries and more.
- Eviction Check – an eviction check aims to show the tenant’s history of eviction filings or judgments against them at any point in the last 7 years.
- Criminal History Check – a criminal history check aims to show any records involving the tenant in state court criminal records or in databases such as the national sex offender public registry. If using criminal history to determine the eligibility of an applicant, Colorado law does not allow records exceeding 5 years before the date of application to be considered, except in the case of methamphetamine abuse, sex offender registry, or homicide charges. As a result, these reasons may not be used to deny an applicant.
Colorado Eviction Record Search
Evictions are public record, so you can complete the eviction search yourself using the state’s Judicial Court Directory, which provides an on-demand record requesting system. Alternatively, there are third-party screening services available as well.
To access the eviction records yourself:
- Go to the Colorado Judicial Branch Docket Search.
- Enter the potential renter’s name to access civil court documents. You may designate a county if you know which jurisdiction their previous rentals fall under.
- Identify and select the appropriate civil case to review.
- To view case history, you must make a $15 payment, with an additional 3% credit card fee.
Adverse Action Notices
According to the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FCRA), if you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e., credit, eviction or criminal history) and take an “adverse action” against them such as any of the following:
- Rejecting the applicant.
- Requiring a co-signer (when they didn’t include one before).
- Requiring a larger security deposit.
- Requiring higher rent.
Then landlords are legally required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”. This is required even if the consumer report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for the action.
The notice explains and notifies the applicant that they were denied due to the information on a consumer credit report. The notice must include details about the consumer reporting agency, an explanation that they didn’t take the adverse action themselves (and can’t explain why it was made) and a statement on the applicant’s right to a copy of the report and to dispute its contents within 60 calendar days. Additionally, when rejecting an applicant, it’s recommended to specify the reason (but not legally required). The written adverse action notice must be provided to the applicant within 20 days of denial.
For an example, see this tenant rejection letter template.