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New Warranty of Habitability Law (HB 19-1170)

Colorado’s New Warranty of Habitability Law (2019) – Boulder Real Estate Agent

This webpage discusses Colorado’s newly amended (as of 2019) warranty of habitability statute (HB 19-1170, codified at C.R.S. 38-12-501 et seq.), changes to the required notice and demand periods (HB 19-1118) and other changes found in HB 19-1106 (concerning rental applications), HB 19-1309 (concerning required timeframes for notices and demands), and HB 19-1328 (concerning bed bugs).

May 2019 Legislation Affecting the Landlord-Tenant Relationship in Colorado

On May 20, 2019 Governor Polis signed into law a number of bills that affect the landlord-tenant relationship in Colorado. I will provide a general overview of the new laws below but bear in mind that these law are complex and if you have any doubts about their applications to your particular circumstances you should always consult with a Colorado landlord-tenant attorney.

One of those bills (HB 19-1118) states that, with certain limited exceptions, ten (10) days’ written notice (rather than three (3) days’ notice) is now required for residential notices to quit, demands for compliance or possession and demands for payment of rent or possession. These changes are codified in C.R.S. 13-40-104. Accordant changes were enacted in HB 19-1309, which, among many other things, modifies C.R.S. 38-12-204 such that ten (10) days’ notice is also required for demands for payment of rent in mobile home park leases. Both bills went into effect the day they were signed.

Colorado’s Updated Residential Warranty of Habitability (HB 19-1170), codified at C.R.S. 38-12-501 et seq.

Of particular importance to the landlord-tenant relationship in Colorado is another bill that was passed the same day: HB 19-1170, which is an act “Concerning Increasing Tenant Protections Relating to the Residential Warranty of Habitability.” The warranty of habitability statute is codified at C.R.S. § 38-12-501 et seq. Unlike HB 19-1118 and HB 19-1309, the new warranty of habitability statute has a delayed effective date of August 2, 2019.

One of the most important, but least obvious, changes HB 19-1118 makes to the warranty of habitability statute is the replacement of a particular conjunctive “and” with a disjunctive “or” in C.R.S. 38-12-503. New to the statute is that a landlord breaches the warranty of habitability (assuming notice is provided and timely remedial action is not taken) if a residential premises is “Uninhabitable as described in section 38-12-505 or otherwise unfit for human habitation” or “In a condition that materially interferes with the tenant’s life, health, or safety.” Prior to these changes the warranty of habitability statute required both elements be satisfied before moving to the next element. Also noteworthy is the fact that the language of the second element is also somewhat less difficult to satisfy than it was previously. Assuming one of the first two elements are satisfied the next element states that the landlord must receive “reasonably complete written or electronic notice of the condition and fail to commence remedial action by employing reasonable efforts” within the time frames set forth in the statute (the time-frames vary depending on the circumstances). There is a separate, but related, process now laid out in C.R.S. 38-12-503(2.2) for specifically listed circumstances involving mold and dampness that, if not remedied, would materially interfere with the life, health, or safety of a tenant. If the landlord does not comply with his/her obligations under the warranty of habitability statute the tenant may use any of the remedies set forth in C.R.S. 38-12-507. The conditions under which a tenant may use the enumerated remedies are very specific so it is always best to read the requirements of the statute closely and/or consult with a Colorado landlord-tenant lawyer.

Also noteworthy is that under C.R.S. 38-12-509 a landlord may not retaliate against a tenant (e.g., by increasing rent, decreasing services, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession) in response to the tenant making a good faith complaint to the landlord or a governmental agencies alleging a condition described in C.R.S. 38-12-505(1) (which specifically enumerates conditions, which, if lacking, make a property uninhabitable) or any condition that materially interferes with the life, health, or safety of the tenant. New to the statute is the prohibition on landlords retaliating against tenants for “Organizing or becoming a member of a tenants’ association or similar organization.” C.R.S. 38-12-509(b).

Additional Legislation Concerning Rental Applications (HB 19-1106) and Bed Bug Remediation (HB 19-1328)

Also signed into law on May 20, 2019 were HB 19-1106, an act “Concerning the Rental Application Process for Prospective Tenants,” and HB 19-1328, an act “Concerning Bed Bugs in Residential Premises, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing Duties for Landlords and Tenants in Addressing the Presence of Bed Bugs.” Similarly to the new warranty of habitability statute the new rental application process law (HB 19-1328) goes into effect on August 2, 2019. The new bedbug law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Both of these new laws have important changes to the landlord-tenant relationship that are outside of those scope of this discussion.

All of these changes affect the relationship between landlords and tenants in Colorado and all of them can potentially come into play in various situations, particularly when a tenant is residing in a property that is listed for sale.

If you are looking for a Boulder real estate agent with a results oriented approach tailored to your specific needs, contact Royal Arch Real Estate. We are knowledgeable and experienced brokers who always have your best interests at the forefront of our minds, whether you are buying or selling a home, vacant land or a new construction.