Last Updated on October 29, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
Under Colorado law, there is a smorgasbord of things that a landlord cannot do. Among these is engaging in an illegal eviction when removing a tenant from their rental premises.
As a landlord, you have a duty to follow the proper eviction process when removing a tenant from your rental property. Generally speaking, this entails serving the tenant with a proper eviction notice, filing a lawsuit in court, and obtaining a court order.
In today’s blog, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know when it comes to wrongful eviction in Colorado.
What is an Illegal Eviction in Colorado?
An illegal eviction in Colorado is any tenant removal process that is inconsistent with the law. Under Colorado law, it includes taking any of the following illegal actions against a tenant.
#1: Carry out a self-help eviction.
Have you tried to force your tenant to move without following the proper eviction process? If you have, then that would be “self-help” eviction. It’s illegal as per state and federal law.
Examples of self-help eviction tactics include cutting off utilities to the tenant’s unit, removing their personal belongings, changing their locks, or issuing the tenant with threats.
By taking any of these actions, you risk facing fines, criminal charges, and even jail time.
#2: Carry out a retaliatory eviction.
Colorado tenants enjoy a myriad of rights under state law (Colorado Statutes Title 38 Article 12). Among these is the tenant’s right to do the following without being retaliated against.
- Complain about the unit’s uninhabitability to a local government health agency.
- Form or join a tenant’s union to champion their rights.
- Report code violations to local authorities.
- Contract for repairs themselves and deduct expenses from rent if you fail to repair the unit on time.
Once the tenant has taken any of these actions, you must not then retaliate against them by doing any of the following.
- Serving the tenant an eviction notice without a just cause.
- Increasing the rent to force the tenant to leave.
- Harass or intimidate the tenant.
- Fail to make requested repairs to the unit.
#3: Carry out discriminatory eviction.
A discriminatory eviction is when a landlord tries to evict a tenant solely on the basis of a protected class.
Colorado tenants enjoy two layers of protection when it comes to discriminatory practices by landlords. Federal law protects tenants on the basis of 7 protected classes. That is, race, color, religion, sex, nationality, familial status, and disability.
Also, state law extends the list of protections by adding ancestry, marital status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ownership of a service animal.
#4: Try to evict a tenant without a just cause.
This is also another example of wrongful eviction under Colorado law. To remove a tenant from their rental premises, a landlord must first have a just cause. Examples of just causes under Colorado law include the following.
- Failure to pay rent when it is due.
- Violating a term of the lease, such as keeping a pet illegally.
- Not having a lease.
- Failure to move out of the unit after the lease has expired.
- Engaging in an illegal act.
Additionally, you must also follow the due process under the law. The following is a basic overview of what a tenant eviction process in Colorado looks like.
- Serve the tenant with a proper eviction notice.
- File a complaint with the court if the matter remains unresolved.
- Hold a hearing and await judgment.
- Obtain a court order (writ of restitution).
Usually, a tenant eviction process in Colorado will take anywhere between 2 weeks and 4 months depending on various factors. Such as, the reason for the eviction, and whether the tenant chooses to fight it or not.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What Is An Illegal Eviction in Colorado?
Q: What are the damages for wrongful eviction in Colorado?
A: If you have illegally evicted a tenant from their rental premises, the tenant may be awarded actual damages, statutory damages, as well as attorney and court costs. Additionally, the tenant may also be able to recover punitive damages if the court finds that your actions were especially egregious.
Q: Can a landlord evict a tenant without a court order in Colorado?
No! A landlord must have a court order to evict a tenant from their rental premises. To evict a tenant from your premises, you must first have a just cause, file a lawsuit in court, and obtain a favorable judgment.
The court will then issue you with a court order (writ of restitution), returning possession of the property back to you. But even then, it’d only be the sheriff who would be able to physically remove the tenant from the premises.
As a landlord, the only way to evict a tenant in Colorado is by obtaining a court order. Trying to evict the tenant in any other way will not only fail, but may also land you in legal hot soup. For expert help in evictig a tenant in Colorado, hire a qualified attorney.
Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.
Hi, I’m Kelvin Nielsen, an experienced landlord and accomplished real estate lawyer. My focus is on answering your questions about renting in the hopes of making your life as a renter or a landlord a bit easier.