What is Renters Insurance?

Renter's Insurance

Renters insurance is a type of policy that is designed to cover the tenants and their personal belongings in a rented residence. While landlords have their own homeowners insurance policies that cover their structures and financial interests, these policies don’t generally extend coverage to their tenant's personal property.

This means that if a tenant’s property is damaged or stolen, a landlord's insurance is not likely to cover the cost of replacing those items.

Most renters don’t think about protecting their belongings, much less their potential liabilities as a tenant. In many cases, tenants will look to their landlord for compensation for damaged, destroyed, or stolen items.

If the landlord is responsible for losses due to negligence, the tenant may have a case but this is the exception, not the rule. In most cases, the responsibility for their belongings, and liability claims falls to the tenant.

This is why many landlords require tenants to have renters insurance sometimes referred to as apartment insurance, or tenants insurance before occupying a property. They do this to avoid disagreements that may arise as a result of theft, injury, or damage.

A renter's policy should contain liability insurance which helps protect the landlord in case the renters or guests get injured on the property.

How Does Renters’ Insurance Work?

How Does Renters Insurance Work?

Renters insurance works just like most insurance policies. The policy holder chooses the level of personal property coverage, and how much liability coverage they require, these levels will determine how much renters insurance will cost.

In the event the policy holder suffers a loss from a covered event to the tenant or their belongings, such as fire, theft, or other types of damage, the tenant simply files a claim with the insurance company.

The insurance provider will then pay the amount that’s equivalent to what’s covered by the policy after paying any deductible. A replacement cost coverage policy is a good idea as well, this means you won't have a deductible, and you will be paid the current value of your losses.

Apart from covering your property, renters insurance covers other types of disasters.

For example, let’s say someone falls on your stairs and sues you for the medical bills, renters insurance can cover it. If you have to move out of your house after a fire tragedy, most policies will take care of the cost of living in a hotel room as well.

However, it’s important to go through your renter's policy and coverage and identify its strengths and weaknesses. The elements covered by policies differ, and may be less detailed if you choose a lower premium.

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Renters insurance primarily covers tenant's belongings in the event of damage or destruction. But keep in mind that the policy doesn’t cover for every type of damage or accident. Renters insurance typically deals with four types of covered losses. These are;

  • Personal Property Damage or Loss: In the event that your personal items get damaged in an event named in your policy, your renters insurance policy will cover the cost of those damages equivalent to your policy’s limits. Examples of covered perils include fires, theft, or wind.
How Does Renters’ Insurance Work?
  • Personal Liability Coverage: In case a visitor gets injured while on your premises or their property is damaged, and you are responsible for the damages, renters insurance can cover all the liability costs. This includes legal fees associated with the cost of hiring your lawyer, for as long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum liability coverage.
  • Additional Living Expenses: If a covered aspect makes your rental home or apartment uninhabitable, your renters insurance policy will cover all the expenses incurred after interrupting your normal living expenses. This includes things like hotel bills, and restaurant meals.
  • Medical Expenses: Renters insurance also offers limited coverage for any medical costs related to bodily injury of a guest on your property. Medical payments coverage can save both the landlord and the tenant in the event some gets injured on the property.

These are the basic types of coverage that renters insurance provides to tenants. Some Renters insurance policies may even cover your belongings when you’re traveling, this may require additional coverage which is a good idea.

As much as this insurance policy protects you against unexpected events, it’s still important to realize the type of scenarios that are not covered by this type of insurance.

What’s not covered by Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance coverage won’t protect you from everything. Most service providers are consistent about the types of claims they don’t cover. Damages caused by natural calamities are not generally covered. Here are some things that aren’t covered

  • Property Damage- Most of the renters insurance companies will not cover damages caused to the property itself. The landlord's policy generally takes care of the property itself.
  • Damage caused by Pests- Most renters insurance policies don’t cover damage costs caused by bed bugs, ants, and rodents. These are classified as a maintenance issue and failure to provide ongoing maintenance doesn't meet the standard for coverage. It's important to note that most residential leases leave the tenant responsible for pest remediation. The exception to this is in the event the pests at the property prior to moving in.
  • Flood and Earthquake Damages- Earthquake and flood damages are also not covered by a renters policy, especially in areas prone to these natural disasters. Nevertheless, some companies offer coverage of these disasters at premium rates.
  • Car Damages or Theft- If you have a car, its theft or damage won’t be covered by your renters policy. You’ll need a seperate policy for auto insurance that offers comprehensive coverage. However, renters insurance will cover the belongings that were inside your car when it was stolen.
  • Roommates- A renters insurance policy doesn’t cover damages to your roommate’s personal possessions. If you want them covered, you should include the items in your insurance policy.

Liability For Pets

Liability from pets is a major issue for many landlords. The good news for renters is that renter’s insurance usually covers liability from dog bites, and associated legal expenses. There are liability limits, generally, these fall into the $100,000 to $300,000 range so if the claim exceeds these limits, the dog owner is responsible for the difference.

How Much Does It Cost?

Fortunately, a typical renters insurance policy isn’t that expensive, these policies can cost you as little as $10 to $20 a month and about $200 to $250 per year. This is a fraction of the replacement cost for the average renter's belongings. It just makes sense to obtain this type of insurance even if it's not required.

The price of your policy is determined by the type of policy, and how much coverage you need. Individuals who own expensive and sophisticated gadgets or an art collection will pay more than those who’ve simple and less expensive items.

Do You Need Renters Insurance?

It’s all up to you to decide whether you need renters insurance or not. If you’re finding it hard to make this decision, start by evaluating your personal finances and your possessions. If you live in a small studio apartment with simple furnishings, and you’re sure that you can replace them from your pocket without any struggles, you may not want renters insurance.

On the flip side, if you own more household items that you can’t afford to replace at once, a renters policy will benefit you.

Start by doing a home inventory and make a list of the items in your home and how much they will cost to replace.

Don’t forget to include the smaller items, i.e., dishes, books, musical instruments, fine jewelry, clothes, even pots, and pans. Now, sum up the total and if the total amount exceeds the amount you can afford to replace your inventory, you should consider getting a quote for a renters insurance policy.

How Can I Get Renters Insurance?

Obtaining a renters insurance policy is very easy; in fact, you’ll wonder why you haven’t already done it. After you’ve taken stock of all your belongings, find out what’s covered by your landlord’s insurance and note down everything that isn’t covered.

You can then start researching different insurance companies online and make comparisons before choosing. Most insurance companies offer free quotes online, over the phone, or even in person. You can contact an insurance agent and they’ll take you through how much coverage you need for your situation.

Other Considerations When Purchasing Renters Insurance

Once you’ve decided that you need renters insurance, there are several things to consider before purchasing this type of insurance policy. They include:

  • Price and Coverage: Insurance companies will give you a fixed amount for all your belongings, and not on separate items. The higher the amount, the more you’ll pay for your insurance. It's important to note that policy limits, and coverage limits do apply, so make sure you have the right amount of coverage.
  • Deductible: It’s also good to consider how much you’ll be required to pay before your insurance kicks in. Remember, a lower premium means a higher deductible and vice-versa.
  • Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value: A policy will either pay you for the replacement of a similar item or pay you with ACV. ACV represents the value of the property when it was damaged. Although replacement premiums cost more, they’re worth every penny.
  • Previous Claims in your Location: If you live in an area that sees a lot of claims, you’ll probably pay more for your renters insurance. If you or your neighbors have had lots of claims, this may also impact the price of your policy.

Final Thoughts

Even if you feel that your personal property isn’t worth an insurance policy, simply having liability protection is worth the cost.

Most importantly, ensure that you’re not paying for the coverage you don’t need. See what’s covered by your landlord’s insurance policy and make a comparison with what you need before proceeding to purchase a renters insurance policy.

If you need more information about renters insurance, you can contact renters insurance experts to get estimates or contact us and we can point you in the right direction.

cleaning carpetFor many tenants, property condition is a deciding factor when choosing a rental unit. If you’ve been renting for a while, you’re probably already in the habit of documenting any damages from a former tenant prior to move-in. But how often do you think about the carpet condition in your rented home or apartment? Probably not often (until it starts to look visibly dirty or worn) and you probably don't know anything about the Landlord Carpet Replacement Law.

Without proper cleaning and maintenance carpet can become both a health risk and safety issue even before it begins to look dingy. Dirty carpets can hold four times their weight in dirt and debris, which settles into the fibers and cannot be removed by dry vacuuming alone. Food, hair, skin cells, pet urine, as well as debris, dragged in by pets or shoes can build up in the carpet, making it a perfect breeding ground for mold and dangerous bacteria.

Even if you are scrupulously clean the entire carpet, you will still have some level of build-up in your carpet. There’s also no guarantee that a property’s previous tenants shared your standards of cleanliness. Knowing your rights as a tenant and asking your prospective landlord or property manager a few questions about the potential replacement of carpet before signing a lease agreement, could spare you a few headaches down the line.

Property Condition Laws

Colorado has passed a number of landlord-tenant laws governing both the tenant and landlord’s responsibility, which includes laws about property condition. The Colorado Warranty of Habitability, for example, was designed to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords and requires rentals to be adequately waterproofed, have working heat, plumbing, and electricity, as well as proper sanitation. Under this warranty, it is the responsibility of the landlord to keep the property habitable.

Beyond the general requirement of habitability, which would ostensibly include properly maintained flooring, there are no state or local laws regulating carpet replacement or maintenance. As a result, landlords or the property owner are only legally required to replace the carpeting in rental properties if it makes the house unlivable, such as in cases of mold or pests.carpet replacement for rentals

Under these laws, how frequently carpets should be replaced is left to the landlord’s discretion. When touring a rental, you may want to ask about the age of the carpet and when the landlord intends to install new carpets. With normal wear and tear, the life expectancy of a carpet is approximately 15 to 20 years, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends replacing rental property carpet every 5 to 7 years which is the end of the carpet’s useful life.

Your Options When it Comes to Rental Carpet Replacement

So what should you do if you’re touring a house or apartment with dingy carpets that have never been replaced? As a potential tenant, you have a few options—

  1. Don’t rent the property. If the landlord seems unconcerned with the carpet condition or is resistant to the idea of replacing it, keep searching. You should feel comfortable and safe in your rental home and not be worried about what might be lurking in the carpets.
  1. Attempt to negotiate with the landlord to have the carpet replaced. Consider offering to sign a longer lease or paying a slightly higher rental rate to cover the cost of the carpet. Most landlords are willing to make a few compromises if it means they can find good, long-term tenants for their property.
  1. Live with the carpets as-is. Most debris and bacteria can be eliminated from your carpets with regular cleaning by professional carpet cleaners, which should be done at least once a year. Large stains are unsightly but not necessarily dangerous. Many landlords will do a standard carpet cleaning between each tenant, which is another great question to ask during a property tour.

Depreciation and Damages

As a tenant, you may also bear some responsibility for the cost of the replacement of damaged carpets, which is why it’s important to document any potential issues before move-in. You do not want to be charged for damages that you did not cause via normal use and disputes over security deposits are common but avoidable. The deposit that you pay at the beginning of your lease will be used to do any repair work for unusual damage, when you move out, which could include cleaning costs, any necessary repairs, or replacing carpets.

If the landlord decides to withhold part of the tenant’s security deposit, he or she must provide a written report explaining the deductions. Deposits can only be used to cover damages, not normal wear and tear. When it comes to carpet, reasonable wear includes issues such as matting, dirt, or ordinary wear in heavily trafficked areas and impressions from any furniture. Cigarette burns, stains, or tears in the carpet would be considered damages, and your deposit could be used to pay for cleaning or the cost of repair or replacement to the affected areas. Normal wear and tear would be a landlord charge.

In most courts, the replacement cost of the carpet would be prorated over the course of five years, since that is considered the useful life of carpeting in a rental home.

In other words, if the carpet is already 3 years old when you moved into the house, you could not be charged the full cost for replacing a damaged carpet, since it was already halfway through its expected lifespan. If you were to be charged, for a complete replacement, you should seek legal advice before agreeing to any charges.

The method of carpet installation can also affect how the carpet depreciates. Since tacked-down carpet is easily removed, it is not considered “attached” to the property and would depreciate over the span of 5 years. Glued-down carpet is considered more permanent and would depreciate over 27.5 years like most other types of flooring.

Conclusion

Though you may not think of carpet condition as a deal-breaker in a rental property, take a moment to consider the extent of damage or wear before committing to any lease.

Considering the amount of bacteria and dirt that can live in a carpet, negligence in cleaning and replacing the carpet could put you and your family at risk.

Asking for the carpet cleaning and replacement schedule during a tour is a great place to start and could help you and your landlord come to a better understanding of each other’s priorities and expectations.

Updated June 15, 2021

Colorado Springs Airbnb laws changed significantly at the end of 2019. If you are a real estate investor or property owner looking to get into the Short-Term Rental (STR) market, that may be more difficult than you think, at least in the city of Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Springs City Council has implemented some new Colorado Springs Airbnb Laws that make investing in Short Term Rentals more challenging. We are going to take a look at why those rules were implemented, what the rules are, and how to move forward as a real estate investor.

Redefining Short-Term Rentals?

The phrase short-term rental has traditionally meant a rental property that is leased for less than one year. This type of rental was generally used by people who were waiting for a home to be built or were new to an area. Short Term Rentals were usually difficult to find and didn’t create much controversy.

This all changed with the introduction of online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

Both of these services allow homeowners to lease their own place directly to guests for short periods of time, much like a hotel would. These transactions are now referred to as Short Term Rentals or STR’s

These new types of short-term rental properties are actually for very short periods of time. Short Term now means by definition less than 30 days but in practice, the lease periods are more commonly 3 to 5 days.

New Investment Strategies

Investors soon figured out that they could purchase properties in popular neighborhoods, and turn them into short-term rental units. These were good investments because the rental rates were significantly higher than a traditional long-term lease.

In addition to receiving much higher returns, the tenants were less demanding in terms of things like repair requests and service issues. Yes, there were issues with preparing the units to be turned over quickly for new tenants but there were cleaning fees charged to help with that.

Many investors turned their entire rental portfolios into short-term rental operations. Investor owners of short-term rentals were getting along nicely until neighboring homeowners got tired of living near STRs.

Colorado Springs Introduces Regulations

Colorado Springs Airbnb Ordinance

Complaints and controversy are what motivated the Colorado Springs City Council to institute new regulations regarding short-term rentals in 2019. While short-term rental owners are attracted to these types of investment because they yield high returns, Neighbors on the other hand detest them because of the increase in traffic, noise, and people coming and going.

There were frequent complaints about loud parties, empty beer bottles, and the constant smell of marijuana. 

The effects the short-term rental industry has had on local housing supplies and pricing is another complaint about STR’s. The problem is that they take away housing for local residents, reducing potential inventory and driving up both rents and prices. In many popular STR destinations, we hear about problems with affordable housing. This is another issue that makes restricting STR’s popular with many.

These complaints and objections about STR’s from neighboring permanent residents eventually led city officials to implement new STR regulations. In a recent move, the Colorado Springs City Council approved new short-term rental regulations on 25th November 2019.

Other cities that have passed similar Airbnb rules are Destin Florida and Wellington Florida.

Colorado Springs Airbnb Laws

The Colorado Springs City council members voted 5-4 to approve the new provisions for short-term rentals which are more stringent than existing provisions. These new provisions were recommended by the City Planning Commission.

The goal was to regulate properties rented out by online platforms such as VRBO and Airbnb. The City Council decided that these provisions were needed to establish a standard for all the short-term rentals within Colorado Springs.

Non-Owner-Occupied Short-Term Rentals

The primary focus of this new ordinance seems to have been non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. While the ordinance doesn’t do away with non-owner-occupied short-term rentals, it does make it more difficult to find and license them.

There are certain zoning designations that will allow for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in the City of Colorado Springs. Those zoning codes are R-2, R-4, R-5, SU, non-single family PUDs, OR, OC, PBC, C-5, C-6, and M-1. The property must have one of these zoning designations, and cannot be within 500’ straight line distance of another STR.

These zoning codes can be found on the Colorado Springs Springsview website. This tool allows you to search for properties and then dig into some real detail about that particular property. Once you locate the parcel you're interested in you simply click on the identify button at the top of the tool to find out about the zoning, building licenses, and more.

In a major part of the non-owner occupancy clause, the City Planning Commission also specified that there must be at least a five hundred (500) foot of operation buffer between any two new newly licenseted short-term rentals.

They have also clarified that this distance of five hundred feet will be calculated on the basis of a straight-line distance between two new short-term rentals and any intervening structures will not be regarded. So, a new short-term rental property must be situated at a distance of about five hundred feet in any direction in a straight line from another short-term rental property.

If you are considering purchasing a property to use as an STR, the best way to find out if there are any existing STRs within 500’ is to e-mail shorttermrentals@coloradosprings.gov . They will usually get back to you in 24 to 48 hours. The short-term rental search function on the Springsview page has been disabled due to security and privacy concerns.

The next provision that was introduced limited the overnight occupancy. Pursuant to Section 7.5.1706(H), “maximum overnight occupancy of a short-term rental unit shall be limited to two (2) occupants per bedroom, plus an additional two (2) occupants per dwelling unit. The maximum occupancy per dwelling unit shall be fifteen (15) occupants.”

You are Going to Need a Permit

Short-Term Rental operators will be required to obtain a valid permit to operate. The operator must display their approved permit and Good Neighbor Guidelines (with the permit number, valid through date, and local emergency contact) in a prominent location within your short-term rental unit.

The permit is valid for one (1) year from the date the permit was issued by the Planning & Community Development Department. After the expiration, the permit becomes invalid and the operator can renew the permit for an additional period of one year.

The Ordinance also clearly states that the permit is issued to the owner, not the property. This means that the permit is issued to the operator or the specific owner in order to operate or use the short-term rental unit.

Once the property transfers from one owner to another, the permit becomes invalid. The new owner will have to reapply for a new permit.

For example. "Mr. X" the operator of a short-term rental unit received a permit on January 1st of 2020. This permit is valid for one year from the date of issuance or December 31st. of 2020.

If "Mr. X" sells the short-term rental unit to "Mrs. Y" on, November 1st. of 2020, "Mrs. Y" will need to apply for a new permit if she intends to continue operating the property as a short-term rental.

In the case of non-owner occupied STR’s, existing owners (Pre-November 2019) are grandfathered in and therefore eligible for a Permit. Although these non-occupant owners are grandfathered in, they still need a permit to operate and if they sell or transfer the property, the new owner is not eligible unless they live in the property for more than one hundred and eighty-five (185) days.

Owner-Occupied Short-Term Rentals

In these new provisions, the Council has provided a definition of owner-occupied short-term rentals to clarify whether a person falls under this category or not.

The council defines owner-occupied short-term rentals as an owner who has been inhabiting a property for a continuous period of one hundred and eighty-five (185) consecutive days in a particular year. This makes it difficult to be a compliant, non-owner-occupied STR owner, at least in the City of Colorado Springs.

Owner-occupied STRs are allowed in any lawful dwelling unit as long as the property is within any of the following residential zoning types: A, R, R-1 9000, R-1 6000, R-2, R-4, R-5, SU, PUD, OR, OC, PBC, C-5, C-6 and M-1.

The Colorado Springs Springsview website can help you determine if your property is located in the appropriate zoning code.

You are Going to Need a License

A short-term rental license is now required to operate any short-term rental unit in the City of Colorado Springs. The operator must display their approved license and Good Neighbor Guidelines (with the license number, valid through date, and local emergency contact) in a prominent location within your short-term rental unit.

Licenses cost $119 per year and are valid for one (1) year from the date the license was issued by the Planning & Community Development Department. After the expiration, the license becomes invalid and the operator can renew the license for an additional period of one year.

It’s important to note that as an STR owner/operator, you will also be responsible for sales tax. Application for a short-term rental license can be made at the City of Colorado Springs Planning and Development website.

The Ordinance also clearly states that the license is issued to the owner, not the property. This means that the license is issued to the operator or the specific owner in order to operate or use the short-term rental unit.

Once the property transfers from one owner to another, the license becomes invalid. The new owner will have to reapply for a new license.

For example. "Mr. X" the operator of a short-term rental unit received a license on January 1st of 2020. This license is valid for one year from the date of issuance or December 31st. of 2020.

If "Mr. X" sells the short-term rental unit to "Mrs. Y" on, November 1st. of 2020, "Mrs. Y" will need to apply for a new license if she intends to continue operating the property as a short-term rental.

In the case of non-owner occupied STR’s, existing owners (Pre-November 2019) are grandfathered in and therefore eligible for a license. Although these non-occupant owners are grandfathered in, they still need a license to operate and if they sell or transfer the property, the new owner is not eligible unless they live in the property for more than one hundred and eighty-five (185) days.

Are There Still Opportunities For Real Estate Investors?

There are still opportunities for investors to be a successful Airbnb landlord in other cities and towns within the Pikes Peak region. The key is to find areas that are desirable to visitors.

Pike Peak Region Airbnb

Manitou Springs

Probably the best opportunity for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. Manitou Springs is a small tourist-friendly town located just west of Colorado Springs. The city of Manitou Springs adopted regulations for the very first time in 2016. The Planning Department recommended changes to those rules in 2018 and at this point in time has yet to implement those changes.

As of now, the regulation states that the permission of the Manitou Springs City's Planning Commission is required for the rental of the dwelling unit which is given on rent for the sole purpose of lodging for at least one day and for a maximum period of twenty-nine days. The planning commission of the city provides the occupier with a minor conditional use permit.

Monument, Colorado

Monument, Colorado is a small town located just north of Colorado Springs. While Monument doesn’t possess the same tourist appeal as Manitou Springs, there are limited possibilities to find tenants for a short-term rental in Monument.

Monument is close to the United States Air Force Academy and both Cadets and Parents look for short-term rentals. Monument is also home to some great outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking. An STR investment in Monument would certainly be more difficult to keep occupied but it’s not out of the question.

In the town of Monument, there are no regulations around short-term rentals.

Palmer Lake is located just west of Monument, Colorado and falls into the same category as Monument when it comes to STRs. There is limited availability but also not a strong demand either.

Fountain, Colorado

The City of Fountain, Colorado is located just south of Colorado Springs. The City Fountain is home to the Fort Carson Army Base. This creates the potential for short-term rental guests from friends and family visiting service members. Additionally, Fountain is close to both Schriever Air Force Base and Peterson Base. Both of these air stations provide potential guests as well.

Fountain is currently looking to adopt the zoning rules for both tiny homes and short term rental units which are advertised by online platforms like Airbnb and also for other houses that are rented for a continuous period of thirty days at any particular given time. However, regulations or official notification from Fountain have yet to be announced.

Woodland Park, Colorado

Woodland Park is a small eclectic mountain town located west of Colorado Springs in adjoining Teller County. While not as popular as Manitou Springs, this city does have a strong draw for tourists. The upside to Woodland Park for inventors is that there is generally more available inventory here than in Manitou Springs.

Woodland Park has yet to institute rules around short-term rentals.

Corporate Rental Opportunities

Cozy Airbnb

Another niche might be to look into short term rentals that require a stay of 30 days or more. Leases of more than 30 days do not require a permit.

These have traditionally been called corporate rentals and were intended for corporate employees traveling for work for extended periods of time. They afforded these road warriors the amenities of home in a setting that was more comfortable than a hotel.

Much of the corporate rental market jumped into the Airbnb model of leasing simply because it was so profitable. This has left a vacuum in inventory for those people looking at short term rentals for more than 30 days but less than a year. This is people that are building houses, new to the area or corporate travelers.

While the rates for a corporate rental are less lucrative than those for the Airbnb type rentals, they are still more attractive than what you would see on a traditional long-term lease.

Potential LLC Loophole

Recently it was brought to the attention of the Colorado Springs City Council that there is a loophole that allows for limited liability companies to hold short-term rental permits forever. Even though the number of LLC companies that hold permit for short term rentals is relatively small, the issue created some discussion. The commission ruled against a permit holder who wanted to keep his permit after transferring ownership of the rental house to a limited liability company for liability and estate planning reasons. The intent of the city code was for short-term rental permits to expire when homes are sold. Neighborhood advocates are encouraging the Colorado Springs City Council to close this potential loophole to maintain the intent of the city code.

Conclusion

At this point, the Colorado Springs City Council has committed to revisiting the rules around short term rentals within the city limits again at some point in the future. Until then we have to live with the current regulations.

If you aren't an existing pre-November 2019 non-occupant owner of a short-term rental in Colorado Springs the good news is you've been grandfathered in and as long as you acquire a permit can continue to do business until you sell the property.

If you are a homeowner leasing out an accessory dwelling unit or small apartment within your home. You're OK as long as you have a permit and follow the rules regarding number occupants allowed.

Finally, if you are a non-owner occupied investor looking to get into the short term rental market in the Pikes Peak Region, your best bet is going to be to lookout in one of the surrounding areas that don't yet have restrictions in place. Airbnb and VRBO properties do well in areas that are a popular destination for visitors and tourists.

Until something changes, this is the current status of the Short-Term Rental market in Colorado Springs. If you have any additional questions on short-term rentals or real estate investing in general, please feel free to contact us.

What is Section 8?

Section 8 is a rental housing assistance program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD), and administered by local public housing agencies. Sometimes referred to as the housing choice voucher program because it grants vouchers to eligible low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors in order to help them obtain affordable housing.

Section 8 properties are owned by cooperating private landlords that agree to rent Section 8 approved properties to qualified voucher holders at fair market rents. The gap between fair market value and what the voucher holders pay is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing HUD and managed by a local public housing authority or local PHA.

It is important to mention that the responsibility for finding the rental property is up to the voucher holder, not the housing agency. There are States that are implementing regulations that mandate rental properties accept Section 8 voucher holders whether the private landlord wants to or not. 

How Did it Originate?

First, a little background: the creation of Section 8 housing dates back to the Great Depression. It was first introduced as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" program back in the 1930s, In fact, the term "Section 8" comes from Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937. As you might expect, it's evolved a lot between then and now.

The most important development came with the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which introduced the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The Development of Section 8

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is what most people mean when they refer to Section 8. It was established in response to criticism of government-owned public housing - people felt the government public housing program at that time, while well-intentioned, was just creating poverty-ridden areas that made the problems faced by low-income individuals and families worse, not better.

You've probably encountered the term "the projects" before. This phrase is shorthand for "public housing projects," i.e., housing that is owned by the public sector (that is, the government). This used to be the only kind of this type of housing available up until the introduction of the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Nowadays, Section 8 housing can be in any apartment or house which passes inspection - the tenant has a choice when it comes to the type of housing. Section 8 is a private market solution to a public housing problem, and we know it works because section 8 is currently responsible for helping more than two times the number of eligible tenants as public projects.

Two Types of Section 8 Housing Vouchers

There are two types of vouchers: project-based vouchers and tenant-based vouchers. 

Project-based vouchers, as their name implies, can only be used for specifically approved projects.

These are buildings, or areas that are designated to house eligible low-income families, and accept Housing Choice Vouchers. These tend to be larger multi-family buildings, more like apartment buildings than detached single-family homes.

Tenant-based vouchers, on the other hand, follow the tenant, not the project. These choice vouchers are used to pay property owners who have made their properties available to Section 8 tenants and have passed inspections. These are issued under the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Section 8 For Tenants

Let's first take a look at this housing voucher program as it applies to tenants. If you find yourself facing financial difficulties, is applying for Section 8 housing a good idea for you? You may have become discouraged as people tell you it's too difficult to get, or that all the accommodations will be dirty and undesirable.

While the process of qualifying for the housing choice voucher program is certainly not easy, it's not impossible. there are specific steps you will need to take and plenty of paperwork you will need to fill out but at the end of the day, it's certainly worth the work. 

As far as living conditions are concerned, the local housing agency inspects each unit and there is a minimum condition requirement the landlord needs to meet in order to be a part of the program. So, while the properties are certainly not brand new or luxury homes, they are clean and safe.

Payment Standards

Section 8 won’t cover all of a voucher holder's rent. The housing choice voucher program uses something called payment standards to determine how much housing assistance payment money the public housing agency will pay the owner on behalf of the voucher holder.

A payment standard between 90% and 110% of the Fair Market Rents for a particular area is calculated by the local public housing agency. This represents the cost of leasing a moderately-priced dwelling unit in a particular area. These Fair market Rents are published regularly by HUD

The voucher holder will be required to pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income towards rent and utilities. If the rent exceeds the payment standard allocated for this house, the tenant would be required to pay the difference. 

Pros and Cons of For Tenants

The most obvious advantage of Section 8 is that it can help you pay your bills. A lot of people can get to the point where paying for rent is their primary concern - this rental subsidy helps alleviate this rent burden so you can pay for other necessities such as food. 

Section 8 affords low-income families the opportunity to improve their situation

One major drawback of applying for Section 8 is that you will most likely be placed on a waiting list

One major drawback is that you will most likely be placed on a waiting list - it may take as long as a year or two for Housing and Urban Development to determine if you or your family qualify. However, during this time you will likely be able to use project-based vouchers.

Although you will most likely be placed on a waiting list - the demand for vouchers is greater than the number of accommodations available - Section 8 is not a first-come, first-serve system.

There are certain qualifications that can give you preference when it comes to getting housing. Some of these include:

  • The family being homeless.
  • The family currently living in substandard housing
  • The family paying more than 50 % of their income for rent
  • The family has been involuntarily displaced

If any of these conditions apply to your situation, be sure to let the PHA (Public Housing Authority) know as you may be able to get housing faster.

How Can I Qualify for as a Tenant?

Qualification for housing choice vouchers is based mainly on your income, and the amount of the payment standard HUD is willing to fund varies based on your family size. It also depends on the area you live in: there are income limits, as a rule of thumb, you can not earn more than 50% of the median income of the area in which you live in order to qualify. 

The tenant will also need to go through the private landlord’s standard screening process. This usually involves a credit check, a background check including a look at any criminal history, or eviction history.

The tenant will in most cases also be responsible for the security or damage deposit.

Section 8 voucher holders are responsible to report any changes in income or family composition or familial status to your local public housing authorities.

In general, you must be a US citizen in order to qualify for Section 8, though there are certain exceptions.

How To Apply

To start the application process, you will visit a Public Housing Agency office. HUD maintains a list of participating agencies, you can find the list here.

Applications are free and can be filled out in person, sent through the mail, or even submitted online.

You will most likely be placed on a waiting list for 1 to 2 years, during this waiting period, you can choose to accept project-based vouchers.

Once the tenant applicant is approved they can start to search for rental properties that accept Section 8 vouchers. Once they find a property, the local housing agency will need to inspect the housing unit and make sure it meets the section 8 criteria, this also includes a physical inspection to make sure the property is in good condition.

Each local housing authority will have a different process, and different requirements for this rental assistance program, it’s best to start with the local housing agency.

Section 8 For Landlords

If you are considering becoming a Section 8 landlord, you probably have a lot of questions. First and foremost, you'll be wondering: "should I become a Section 8 landlord?" Well, there are benefits and drawbacks to accepting Section 8 tenants. We'll start with some of the benefits.

Pros for Landlords

If you've been a landlord for any length of time, you'll know that one of the most frustrating things about being a landlord is overdue rent; you've probably heard that rent is guaranteed with a Section 8 tenant, and what could be more appealing than this? Well, it's at least partially true, and one of the biggest advantages of renting out to a Section 8 tenant.

Basically, the government will only pay a certain percentage of the rent - this you can expect to receive every month (although when first starting out with a tenant, it might take a few months to get rent; more on this below) 

Given that the whole point of public housing is for the government to guarantee accommodations to those who can't afford it, it might seem strange that they're only paying a portion of the rent, but that's the way it works unless the tenant is making no income in which case they'll probably cover it completely.

As you can see, saying Section 8 means "guaranteed monthly rent" is a bit of a misnomer. As with any tenant, it's your duty to evaluate the Section 8 tenant, looking at things like their credit history. 

Since the government will be paying most of the rent, market-based increases on rental units are less traumatic for tenants.

Fill up vacancies more quickly with Section 8

Another benefit of agreeing to accept Section 8 tenants is that you'll be able to fill up vacancies more quickly. Since there is a shortage of landlords who are willing to work with housing voucher clients, these apartments and houses are continuously in short supply and high demand: we don't want to say it's guaranteed that a vacancy will fill up in a few days, but there's a good chance that, in a lot of cases, it will be filled more quickly than if it were being rented out the normal way.

Since a lot of landlords will not accept Section 8 vouchers, this also means tenants are less likely to leave this type of housing (ideally, yours) once they've found it. Section 8 leases are usually for a minimum term of one year.

Cons for Section 8 Landlords

Above, we mentioned that apartments or houses that wish to become Section 8 housing must pass inspection. As with any federal government program, there can be a lot of red tape!

Once a year, an inspector will visit the property to ensure it meets standards and habitability requirements. You may be required to make changes at your own expense, though there are preventative measures you can take to make sure this doesn't happen.

Of course, although the government pays around 70% of the rent, the other 30% is not guaranteed. If you are an experienced landlord, you should use your standard systems for qualifying section 8 tenants. This should involve a credit check, background check, and a follow up call with any references.

It’s important to be consistent with your qualification standards from tenant to tenant. The fastest way to end up with a fair housing violation is to use different standards for approving or rejecting different tenants. 

Another business practice landlords should maintain is the security or damage deposit. When leasing to a Section 8 voucher holder, it’s important to maintain your normal business standards, if you normally charge a security or damage deposit, you should use the same standards with a section 8 applicant. 

So, overall, there are advantages and disadvantages to becoming a Section 8 landlord. 

Determining whether or not it's right for you can seem like a balancing act of weighing the benefits against the drawbacks and vice versa. 

In spite of all the myths you have heard, this is not necessarily a disaster, nor is it a magical, higher-than-average guaranteed rent situation. 

We recommend really doing your research, taking your time and especially researching the experiences other landlords have had with Section 8 tenants so you can learn more about the perks but also be on the lookout for any potential problems.

Pros and Cons of Section 8 For Tenants and Landlords

Conclusion

Section 8 is a valuable program that benefits both tenants and landlords. It can help tenants get back on their feet, saving them from homelessness if they can't otherwise afford rent, and it helps landlords have steady access to a large supply of potential tenants.

Whether you are a person who needs cheaper housing, or a landlord who needs more tenants, Section 8 is certainly something worth looking into. If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to contact us.

Your rental property is a valuable investment. Perhaps your most valuable (other than the home that you live in), which makes choosing the best property management company an important decision. If you don't know how to find a good property management company, read on...

Many real estate investors opt to work with a property manager to save themselves time and stress— late-night emergency maintenance calls aren’t anyone’s idea of a good time. For others, however, managing a rental is simply impossible, either because their primary residence is out-of-state or because they don’t have the time and expertise.

Property managers can step in and take care of the day-to-day concerns of maintaining the property and finding tenants. The problem is that property management is not a well-regulated industry. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with an incompetent or even dishonest property manager.

You probably spent a lot of time researching and visiting potential rental properties before making a purchase. Taking some time to research and vet prospective property managers is one of the best ways to protect your investment.

research property managers

It's important to do a little research before hiring a property manager

Requirements to Become a Property Manager in Colorado

It is relatively easy to become a property manager in Colorado. By law, you are only required to have a real estate broker’s license to manage rental properties.

The problem is that not all real estate agents have the expertise to successfully manage properties. Or they may be too busy with other aspects of their business to give property management the time and attention it deserves.

Going through a real estate company that has property management expertise and a dedicated property management team, however, offers distinct benefits. A realtor knows how to effectively advertise properties and will be able to assist if you decide to sell your rental property in the future.

 

Professional Property Manager

Hire a professional property manager

Property Management Services

Property management services offered by industry professionals usually include finding the right tenants and in many cases avoiding the dangerous ones, negotiating rental contracts, performing routine maintenance, handling evictions, collecting rent, and everything in between.

Property management fee structures can vary widely between companies. Here at Springs Homes, for example, we charge a small annual administration fee, a monthly fee, a lease fee to cover marketing the property and screening prospective tenants, and a maintenance retainer that is used to keep the property up to snuff. Some companies may also charge fees for things like early termination of a property management contract, handling an eviction, or taking on a property without an existing tenant.

Though services may vary slightly, property management is designed to allow you to enjoy the benefits of an investment property without sacrificing your free time. In addition to saving time, a good property manager will be familiar with relevant laws, such as habitability and eviction laws, and deal with any legal issues that may arise.

Eviction Laws

The eviction process is strict, let a professional handle it

A property manager’s job includes vetting potential tenants, running background checks, and marketing the property, so it won’t sit empty for long. The manager is also the main point of contact for tenant issues and is responsible for security deposits and documentation for the property.

Since property managers have such a wide range of responsibilities, it is easy for a bad property manager to take advantage of either rental property owners or tenants through dishonesty and negligence.

Checklist to Find the Right Property Management Company

So how can you as an investor be sure that you are choosing the right property manager who will work in the best interest of you and your tenants? With a bit of background research and a well-planned interview process, you can enter into a property management relationship with confidence.

1. Check Reviews and References

A Google search is a good place to start researching a prospective property manager. Online reviews can give you an idea of overall customer satisfaction. Some negative reviews (such as a review by an evicted tenant) may have no bearing on the quality of a company’s work, but you can look for themes, such as multiple people complaining about a manager’s poor communication.

online reviews

Reviews are essential when researching a property management company

Once you’ve given Google a quick skim, check out the company’s listing on the Better Business Bureau. Have they had any complaints filed against them? A solid online reputation is the first sign that this might be a good company to work with. Here's a great article that digs deeper into the importance of online reviews.

If you are ready to sit down in an interview, ask the manager to provide references from previous property owners and tenants. When you call the property owner, ask about things like communication, timely payments, and transparent policies.

Ask the tenant if they are satisfied with responses to their repair requests and if they would renew their lease.

2. Verify Licenses and Certifications

Before interviewing a candidate, you will want to verify that they are appropriately licensed through the state’s real estate commission. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies offers a license lookup tool. You can search by either the individual’s name or the business name to see the type and status of their license.

You can also ask the company or individual if they have any certifications related to property management. Several trade organizations, such as The National Association of Realtors and The National Association of Residential Property Managers, offer certification programs.

verify licenses

In Colorado, you can visit the DORA website to search for licenses

3. Review Insurance Coverage

Make sure that any companies that you are considering have the appropriate insurance coverage for their business. As a baseline, property managers should have general liability insurance, errors and omissions (E&O), and commercial insurance that helps cover the properties they manage.

Property managers usually require that both the tenants and landlords be properly insured as well. They may ask you to add them onto your landlord insurance as an additional insured to make sure that they are protected from all angles

4. Meet in Person

If possible, meet your potential property manager in person for an interview. Note your first impressions of the manager. Would you feel comfortable renting from them? Are they personable, polite, and responsive? Was it relatively easy to schedule a meeting with them?meeting property manager

Though property managers have a lot on their plate, their ability to make time to meet with you will likely translate over to how they communicate with you and your tenants in a business relationship. Slow responses or multiple reschedules are red flags that indicate they might be difficult to communicate with when you are actually working together.

You will want to prepare a list of questions to ask in the interview so that you can learn more about the company’s qualifications and policies. We have put together a list of suggested interview questions that you can print out and take with you to the meeting, or you can write your own.

5. Confirm Specialized Experience

Make sure that the property manager has expertise with the type of property that you own. You probably don’t want to hire a commercial property manager to manage your single-family home. Likewise, a property manager that works primarily with single-family homes may not be ideally positioned to market your commercial space.

Ask about the types of property that they have previously managed and how many years of experience they have. You can also ask about continuing education and what they do to keep up on current industry laws.

6. Ask about Vacancy Rates and Size of Client Base

In the property manager interview, ask about vacancy rates and size of client base. If they have a decent number of vacant properties, ask about the property types and how long each property has been vacant. Maybe they have filled all of their single-family homes but don’t have the expertise to find tenants for a condo.

The size of the client base can give you an idea of the company’s experience. If they already have a sizable number of satisfied customers, they are probably a good company to work with. At the same time, you will want to make sure that they have the capacity to take on a new property and aren’t stretched too thin.

7. Examine Contracts

Real Estate Contracts

Take the time to read any contracts involved

If everything else checks out, you are ready to examine the company’s property management contract and tenant lease agreement.

You will primarily want to look for transparency and strong policies in their contracts. Are their services clearly outlined? What are you responsible for as a landlord? How long is the contract, and can you terminate early if you aren’t satisfied with the company?

This is also a good time to look at their fee structure. Are their management fees straight-forward, or are there hidden fees? You can also do some comparison research to make sure that their services aren’t under or over-priced. An under-priced property manager may be inexperienced or too good to be true.

When looking at the lease agreement, look for late rent policies, penalties for breaking the lease, tenant responsibilities (such as who is responsible for yard maintenance), and who the tenant should contact with issues or maintenance requests. The more clearly these processes are outlined in the contract, the less likely you are to run into issues down the road.

The Final Decision

At this point, you have done your due diligence and have a few potential candidates that are qualified, competent, and well-reviewed. How do you make your final decision?

Great communication will result in a great working relationship, so the right fit may be the manager who is the most responsive or the easiest for you to talk to. You want a qualified professional managing your rental property, but great customer service for you and your tenant is equally important.

Taking some time to compare and contrast your short-listed candidates may offer some additional insight. All of your candidates probably have strengths and weaknesses in some aspect of property management, so create a pros and cons list. Which pros do you value the most highly as an investment property owner, and which cons are you willing to live with?

Though finding the best property manager might seem like a daunting task, there are many qualified real estate professionals in the Colorado Springs area, and if you work your way through this checklist, you can rest easy, knowing that your investment is in good hands.

If you are interested in discussing your investment property with the Springs Homes Property Management team, contact us. We’d love to meet with you and answer your questions.

If you’ve been renting or looking to rent for a while, you’ve probably come across the “3x rent rule.” The 3x rule is a common way landlords and property managers vet potential tenants. It states that a tenant’s adjusted3x rent rule gross income, or take-home pay, should be 3x the proposed rent on a property.

Adjusted gross income is your total monthly income minus any deductions, like taxes, alimony, interest from student loans, contributions to an IRA or 401k, or a car payment.

If we look at a property with a monthly rent of $2,000, for example, the 3x rent rule states that a tenant must have a gross monthly income of $6,000 or $72,000 annual salary to qualify for that rental. The income itself can come from wages, dividends, capital gains, or retirement accounts.

The rule generally applies to household income, so a couple’s combined annual gross income must be 3x the monthly rent amount. But in many roommate situations, the landlord will require each roommate to meet the 3x rule separately to ensure that they still have a viable tenant if someone decides to move out.

While this can be a headache for prospective tenants, especially in areas where rental rates outpace average income, the 3x rule protects landlords from missed payments and helps prevent evictions.

Background: Housing Act of 1937

The 3x rule originated in the Housing Act of 1937, which was part of FDR’s New Deal. The Housing Act offered housing assistance to low and moderate-income families.

The Act was originally proposed in 1934, but wasn’t passed until FDR’s second term. In his second inaugural address, President Roosevelt promised to make adequate housing a priority and signed the act into law in September of 1937.

Section 8 of the Housing Act offers federally-subsidized rent assistance to families in the private market. Section 8 requires families to pay 30% of their adjusted income toward rent. The program then covers the gap between 30% of their income and the actual rent cost.

This eventually became the standard rent-to-income ratio for the housing market.

Why the 3x Rule? Prequalifying Prevents Evictions

Section 8 explains where the 3x rule came from, but why do we still use it? What if an individual can afford to spend 40% of their income on housing? Shouldn’t they be able to qualify for a more expensive rental?

Though it can have drawbacks, the 3x rule is an important part of the prequalification process. It is not one-size-fits-all, but if your income is 3x larger than the rent, you are less likely to miss a rent payment or regularly struggle to afford rent.

Evictions are horrible for everyone involved. Tenants are thrown into temporary turmoil at best, and homelessness at worst. The property owner loses money from missed rent and spends time, energy, and resources pursuing an eviction and back rent.

Pre-qualifying tenants can help minimize the likelihood of an eviction, protecting the tenant and landlord from pain and heartache. The 3x rule benefits both parties by ensuring the tenant doesn’t get locked into a lease agreement that they can’t afford, and that the landlord receives their payments on time.

Ideally, landlords and property managers will use the 3x rule as one part of the prequalification process, but also run a credit check, talk to references and previous landlords, and verify employment.

Meeting the income requirement is only one piece of the puzzle.

How Landlords Can Verify Income

Gathering proof of income can be a lot of work for an independent landlord. Tracking down income verification documents, bank statements, and making phone calls eats up a lot of time, but again, the goal is to3x income prevent evictions. Finding the right tenant upfront will save you time and money down the road.

We have compiled a list of items to check with different types of tenants—employed, self-employed, and retired—to simplify the verification process for you.

Employed Applicants

Verifying income for employed applicants is the simplest, but you can also find excellent self-employed and retired tenants. Just be prepared to do a bit more legwork

For employed applicants, ask for pay stubs from the past 3 months. This will give you an accurate picture of their current earnings and cover a long enough period to reveal any fluctuation in income.

W2s show total income from the previous year. W2s can indicate how financially stable an applicant is and if their earnings are consistent. If the applicant has changed jobs, however, this may not be particularly useful.

Lastly, a simple phone call to the applicant’s employer will offer insight into their employment status and character. Consider asking what the applicant is like as an employee. Do they show up on time, work hard, and get along with their coworkers?

3x rent for self employedSelf-employed Applicants

This group of applicants includes freelancers, gig workers, and entrepreneurs. We value and admire our freelancers and small business owners, until they want to buy or rent a home.

We often perceive small businesses as more susceptible to market changes—they may not have the financial stability to weather dips in the economy. This perception can make it difficult for self-employed individuals to get approved for a rental or home loan. But it doesn’t have to!

Plenty of industries that provide consistent and stable work to freelancers and gig workers. Just because a business is small, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s vulnerable. Even large companies can go through periods of financial struggle and layoffs.

If you are willing to do a bit of initial research, you may find yourself with an amazing, reliable self-employed tenant.

Bank statements from the applicant’s business account will give you the most comprehensive information about their earnings. Look for consistent deposits, and make sure that expenditures don’t exceed their deposits—this could indicate a lack of profit.

Talk to the applicant. Ask them how long they have been in business and what services they offer. You can also ask about industry stability, or research the industry yourself once you have a bit more information.

Research the business. Are they registered with the state government? Do they have a business license (if one is required)? Colorado Springs, for example, only requires licenses for specific industries, like food and liquor. Also, see if they have a professional website.

Checking the applicant’s credit report will reveal any red flags, such as a history of late payments, or any bankruptcies or foreclosures. You’ll also want to pay attention to balances on loans and credit cards.

Previous landlords are a great resource for any potential tenant, not just self-employed ones, since they can answer questions about payment history. Most importantly, ask if they would rent to the tenant again!

Unemployed or Retired Applicants

It can be difficult for retirees and the unemployed to qualify for rentals, since the same pre-qualification standards are used for all applicants. They may not have a consistent income, or may not have the necessary verification documents. Here are a few examples of documents to ask for in this situation.

Social Security statements are a great place to start, as Social Security provides a steady source of income for retirees that can be easily verified.

Ask for annuity statements. Many retirees rely on annuities to replace their paychecks, and this income can also be used during the verification process.

IRA, 401k, or pension distribution statements can also help verify income.

Bank statements will reveal any consistent deposits that are not listed on the previous types of statements. They may have another way to supplement their income that does not fall into any of the previous categories.

If you have an unemployed applicant, ask them to provide unemployment statements. These statements act as proof of income from the government.

Qualifying When You Make Less Than 3x

We mentioned at the beginning of the article that the 3x rent rule can make finding a place difficult. In many markets, wages do not keep pace with housing costs. Unfortunately, our own lovely Colorado falls into this category.

In 2019, the Denver Business Journal published an article, saying that the average wage earner in Denver cannot afford to buy a median-priced home. For workers making $65,000-$75,000 a year, over 40% of their income would go toward their mortgage.

Home and rental prices are continuing to climb, leaving prospective tenants without many options. Some will seek out roommates, hoping to pool their incomes to meet the 3x rule. This doesn’t always work. Many landlords and good property managers will expect each tenant to meet the rule separately.

This is an understandable precaution since roommates can move out without notice, but where does that leave you? If you are hoping to rent with roommates, a private landlord may be more flexible with income requirements than a property manager or institutional one.

You can also work to strengthen your rental application in other ways to compensate for your financial situation. Having a good credit score is especially important in these situations since it demonstrates that you pay your bills on time and take your financial commitments seriously. Adding a cosigner or making a larger security deposit can convince a landlord that you are less of a financial risk.

Some rentals don’t require an income check. If you know you can afford a house or apartment, but don’t meet the 3x rule, this may be an ideal situation for you. Just be careful not to overextend yourself financially.

Rely on word of mouth to locate a private landlord that will consider your application. Think about the Kevin Bacon effect. If every actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon in 3 steps or less, someone in your network can put you in touch with a suitable landlord or point you toward an apartment in your price range.

Find a roommate already in a lease, which will eliminate the need for you to pre-qualify. Make sure that you have a written rental agreement with your roommate, laying out terms and financial responsibilities.

Also, if you can’t afford rent in your home city, Section 8 was made for you! In general, your household income cannot exceed 50% of the median income in your area to be eligible. You can check out our blog post, “What is Section 8?” for more information.

Takeaways for Landlords and Tenants

The 3x rule is a good general rule of thumb for landlords to protect themselves from missed rent and the messy process of evicting a tenant, but it is not a perfect solution. A tenant may miss payments for reasons other than an inadequate income, or a tenant that wouldn’t normally qualify, may be perfect for your situation.

If you are a private landlord, think about rental costs in your area vs average wages. If it is not a favorable ratio, consider how you might compromise with potential tenants without putting yourself at risk. Maybe you’re okay with roommates pooling their incomes, or would accept someone with a lower income level if they paid a higher deposit?

If you are a prospective tenant with a lower income, focus on strengthening other key parts of your application, such as your credit score. You can also brainstorm people who might be willing to cosign for you, such as a trusted family member.

And, of course, ask around! There are private landlords that are willing to work with a good tenant, even if they don’t meet the 3x rule.

Colorado eviction processThere are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about the Colorado Eviction Process. Because the process is very specific, failure to understand the appropriate steps can add significant time to the eviction.

The pandemic of 2020 and subsequent eviction moratorium has also made the colorado eviction process even more confusing.

If you are involved in residential leasing as a Property Manager, Landlord, Property Owner, or Tenant, you should understand your rights and responsibilities in the State of Colorado.

We will provide a comprehensive overview of what the eviction process within Colorado entails. As an aside, you'll often see eviction referred to as "forcible entry and detainer" (FED) when it comes to Colorado statutes, so keep that in mind.

The statewide moratorium on eviction cases is set to end on June 30th. 2021. The formal legal process should return to normal after this moratorium is lifted.

Under What Circumstances Can a Tenant Be Evicted in Colorado?

First of all, if you're going to go through with evicting a tenant via termination of their lease before the end of their lease term, you'll need to have a sound legal reason.

The most obvious and most common reasons for eviction will be for non-payment of rent. Colorado law also allows for the violation of a condition of the lease or rental agreement as a reason for eviction.

Can a tenant be evicted?Eviction filings based on a lease violation happen when a tenant refuses to follow the guidelines of the lease. For example, they are failing to adhere to the covenants in a community with an HOA. Other situations that can result in eviction are violations related to issues like an unauthorized pet violation or undisclosed roommates. Colorado landlords and property managers do see a lot of lease violations around growing marijuana in a rental property.

In Colorado, the tenant can also be evicted in the case of a public trustee sale. If the tenant commits a violent criminal act or is involved in a drug-related activity (referred to as a substantial violation), this also provides a legal basis for eviction.

What Reasons are Not Sufficient to Pursue Eviction?

Of course, there are also protections for the tenant against unfair eviction.

For example, a landlord or property management company cannot attempt an eviction in response to the tenant filing a complaint about a violation of what's called the implied warranty of habitability. This is laid out in the Colorado Revised Statutes in Section 38-12-509.

What is the implied warranty of habitability? It's simply a fancy term for how livable or unlivable the apartment is. If a tenant complains living conditions are poor, they can't be evicted for this reason, though in this case, the burden of proof is on them.

A federal law, the Federal Fair Housing Act prevents eviction of a tenant on the basis of race or color, religion, national origin, familial status, or sex. When you get into issues involving the Federal Fair Housing Act, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice.

It also covers disabilities: if the person requires a service dog, this need overrides any pet restrictions present in the lease. Colorado state law also provides protection against discrimination on the basis of ancestry or belief systems, marital status, and sexual orientation.

Depending on what city in Colorado the property is in, there may be additional protection.

How Much Notice Am I Required to Provide?

How much notice for an eviction?

Colorado eviction laws mandate that you must provide your tenant with 10 days' notice. Previously, the requirement a 3-day notice, but this was changed in May of 2019. Obviously, it's important to take note of this recent change, especially if you have been a landlord for years and are used to the notice requirement being only 3 days.

In the case of a failure to pay rent, you must provide a 10-day notice - a period of 10 days in which the tenant is permitted to pay rent - before you can go forward with the formal eviction procedure.

What Does the Colorado Eviction Process Look Like?

If the eviction is due to unpaid rent, the first step in the eviction process is to post a 10 Day Notice, usually on the front door of the property. While most leases have language that talks about when rent is due and when it’s late, the notice can be posted as soon as the rent is late. You will deliver or post in a visible location, usually on the entry door, either a Demand of Compliance or Possession Notice (JDF 101) or the Notice to Quit (JDF 97).

These notices should also provide the reason for eviction to the tenant. Both forms can be downloaded at this link: https://www.courts.state.co.us.

Once notice has been served, the ten-day period must elapse. However, if the last day of this ten-day period is either a Saturday or Sunday or a legal holiday, the period will be extended an additional day. This means ten full days are required, not including weekends or holidays, after issuance of either a Demand of Compliance or a Notice to Quit before pursuing an eviction.
If the 10-day period elapses without a resolution, you'll continue the eviction process by filling out the Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer (JDF-99) form.

You'll also have to fill out the Summons in Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer form (CRCCP Form 1A) and the Answer Under Simplified Civil Procedure form (CRCCP Form 3). Of course, you'll have to pay filing fees of around $97, plus the cost of producing copies for the defendant or defendants along with the court.

Delivering these forms to the court requires some precise timing: make sure the Summons Complaint and Answer to the Defendant(s) are both submitted within one day of when the JDF-99 has been filed. These need to be sent with first-class mail and prepaid postage. Finally, a court date can be scheduled by a court clerk within 1 to 2 weeks.

A summons will be issued to the tenant by a sheriff or private process server or any qualified adult who has no ties to the eviction process. You will have to pay a service fee in the case of a sheriff or private process server, though the amount can vary.

Finally, we get to the actual court hearing. If the tenant fails to respond to the summons, a summary judgment, default judgment, or court order may be issued to the landlord. Expect a bit of a legal battle as the tenant might file a counterclaim (a response to the landlords’ allegations) or even request a trial by jury. Colorado also may require meditation with the tenant and landlord before the hearing.

Should the landlords' case win in court, they must then file for possession of property with a Motion for Entry of Judgement (JDF 104). You'll receive the Order for Entry of Judgement (JDF 107). The tenant must vacate the rental within 48 hours - if they don't, the landlord will need to fill out the caption on the Writ of Restitution (JDF 103) and deliver it to the court. Upon approval, the sheriff's office will forcibly remove the former tenant from the premises.

What Do I Do with the Tenant’s Personal Belongings?

Tenant's belongings in an eviction

Should the eviction proceedings go in the landlord’s favor, they'll need to remove all of the belongings with a crew while being supervised by the sheriff’s department. If you don't expect your tenant to comply with an eviction order, it's best to make preparations to have a team ready to move everything out with boxes, tarps, trash bags, etc.

Colorado is unique when it comes to removing a former tenant's belongings when they have to be removed by force: you are not required to store the items. The former tenant has 15 days to retrieve the items and, if they don't, you are legally free to sell or discard them.

What's the Difference Between a Demand of Compliance (JDF 101) and the Notice to Quit (JDF 97)?

The Demand for Compliance is to be issued in cases where you want to give the tenant a chance to rectify the issue. They'll have 10 days in which to, for example, pay outstanding rent or reverse any violation of the lease agreement. Should they fail to make amends, you are then able to proceed with filing the forms necessary for eviction.

The Notice to Quit, on the other hand, can be used if you want the tenant removed as early as possible and don't want to give them the opportunity to rectify. The Notice to Quit is best used, for example, in the case of a tenant violating the law and can get them out in as little as 3 days.

How Long Will the Colorado Eviction Process Take?

How long does the Colorado eviction process take?You can expect to wait no longer than 2 weeks for a hearing after the filing process is completed. Of course, the length of it takes for the hearing to occur can be drawn out by appeals or continuances. Usually around one month is enough time for a completed eviction to occur, though it depends on so many factors.

What About Payment?

The state of Colorado is a loser pays state: this means that, should you have a solid case and valid reason for evicting your tenant you can expect to pay reasonable court and attorney fees. However. you have to specify this in your lease in order to qualify for recovery.

Conclusion

The Colorado Eviction Process (or in any state for that matter) can be difficult, but they aren't always. We hope we've shed some light on how it all works and what you need to know if you're considering evicting a tenant. If you file forms correctly and have a valid complaint against the tenant, the law should be on your side and the rental vacated as expediently as possible.

Peyton, Colorado is located in the eastern portion of El Paso County just northeast of the Falcon area and west of Calhan, Colorado. Peyton property management is a unique challenge because of the way the eastern plains have developed. While Peyton is for the most part a rural community, there are newer subdivisions in the Falcon area that have a Peyton address. This is because the U.S. Post Office in Peyton provides mail service to homes located in the Falcon area for the entire 80831 zip code. This includes newer suburban neighborhoods like Woodmen Hills, Meridian Ranch, and Paint Brush Hills.

Managing this diverse range of rental property types requires both skill and experience. Since Peyton has everything from custom golf course homes to horse properties on large acreage property managers in this area need an extensive skill set. An effective property management company will need to have years of experience and knowledge of everything from working with an HOA to understanding how to maintain a well and septic system.

Peyton Property Management
Rural Peyton, Colorado

Finding Quality Tenants

Finding great tenants is the key to effectively managing properties, and the first step in finding them is to sell the area. At first glance, Peyton doesn't appear to have a lot to offer prospective tenants, but if you are familiar with the area, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Peyton is home to some great amenities and activities like Homestead Ranch Regional Park, The Rock Island Trail, and a wide range of shopping and restaurants

Schools are another important consideration for many tenants and while the Peyton School District 23jt is a small school district it consistently scores above the state averages on standardized testing scores. The class size and quality of education in the Peyton school district is another advantage when seeking great tenants.

Our area's military bases also provide a great source of quality tenants. While the Peyton area is not close to Fort Carson, it is close to both Peterson Air Force Base as well as Schriever Air Force Base. When it comes to finding great tenants for the rental properties we manage, we have an aggressive marketing campaign for each property we manage. We start with professional photography in order to capture the most desirable qualities of the property and showcase the home in the best possible light. These photos become the basis for our marketing efforts. In our experience, great photos in the right places, generate interest in a property faster than any other marketing tool.

The internet has replaced print media as the best way to find rental properties. We send our rental listings to a wide range of property rental websites in order to generate as much interest as possible. We feel like the deeper the pool of applicants, the more success we have in finding a great tenant.

Tenant Screening

Once we have our applicants, we begin the screening process. Proper tenant screening is one of the basic aspects of our Peyton property management services. Screening involves processing the application, pulling a credit report, credit reports show us if the applicants have a strong enough positive credit history. We also perform criminal background checks as well as contact employers and former landlords in order to check the applicant's work and rental references

We can’t overstate the importance of great tenants, and screening is the most effective way to stack the odds in our favor when it comes to finding them. This process requires a lot of work but we do this to provide our clients with the highest level of service, it also makes our job easier throughout the term of the lease.

Lease Agreements

The lease agreement is the next level of protection a good property manager should provide for the property owners. A well-written lease eliminates questions and clearly outlines what is expected from everyone involved with the property. The lease should explain expectations around rent payments when they are due and what the penalties are for late or missing rent.

The signed lease should be accompanied by the security deposit and explain how maintenance requests are handled and which if any maintenance items are the tenant’s responsibility. This becomes especially important when leasing rural Peyton properties with valuable livestock equipment and facilities.

When it comes to maintaining your property, professional property managers should use professional contractors. These vendors also require screening and management but at the end of the day, they reduce the potential of problems due to incompetence.

The lease will also outline the expectations as far as living within an HOA community. This is important in those newer neighborhoods in the nearby unincorporated area of Falcon. These newer subdivisions have homeowners associations as well as restrictive covenants. Failure to adhere to these covenants can cost the homeowners in fines and levies. The lease should make clear that abiding by the neighborhood covenants is the responsibility of the tenant and failure to do so will result in penalties and in some rare cases eviction.

The lease should also outline what the eviction process will look like in the event we need to remove the tenant. The eviction process is difficult and can be messy, the eviction process alone can be worth the price of a good property manager's management fee.

Additional Peyton Property Management Services

Beyond finding qualified tenants, screening them, executing the lease, and collecting rents there are a number of other services a good management company should provide.

Pricing the property is an essential skill in professional property management. Price the rental rate too low and the owner leaves money on the table every month for the term of the lease. Price the rent too high and the rental could take months to lease, also costing the owner thousands of dollars. We provide a rental market analysis at the end of every lease term. This ensures that we remain relevant with our rental rates.

Financial reporting is an important part of property management. The property owner should receive monthly statements showing where the money is going. The statements should show any fees or expenses associated with the day-to-day management of the property. The manager should also provide year end statements, these are essential when it’s time to prepare your taxes.

Property inspections are another important aspect of good property management. The property manager should perform regular inspections of the property to make sure the tenants are taking care of the property. The manager should also be checking for the appropriate number of tenants, we don’t want anyone living in the property that hasn’t been screened. They should also be on the lookout for any pets that are not supposed to be on the property.

Deposit disputes are a major part of dealing with rental property. A good Peyton property management company will do thorough documentation of the property before and after each occupancy. Our property management company takes hundreds of before and after photos of the property. We also do a 360-degree inspection of the property using a Matterport camera. This allows us to view the entire property on a very detailed level. As an added bonus we can share this tour with the property owner as well as the tenant. Having this level of documentation helps us eliminate a good deal of the drama around deposit disputes. These are also great tools for marketing the property.

Here is an example of our 360 scans of a rental property.

Property Management service should extend to the tenant side of the lease as well. We make every effort to keep our tenants happy. This involves offering flexible payment options like online payment options through our online tenant portal or with a credit card. This is also where the tenants can make us aware of any repairs or maintenance requests they have.

We also provide an online owner portal, this allows you to get any important information you might need regarding the property or your account 24/7.

Residential property management is a serious business with a constantly changing landscape. This is why we are also members of NARPM, the national association of residential property managers. This organization is the gold standard in the real estate industry for property managers. NARPM provides up-to-date information and education for real estate professionals that manage single-family homes and small residential properties.

If you are considering a Peyton property management company to manage your home or investment property, you should look for a professional that offers a wide range of services that will protect your property as well as your investment in your property. If you want to talk to this type of company, please give us a call, we would love to talk to you about your rental property.

is renting a townhome right for you

Is Renting a Townhouse Right for You?

If you have lived in Colorado Springs for a few years, it may come as no surprise that the average cost of rent has risen 27.41% since 2015. But is renting a townhouse the right housing option for you?

Though a booming job and housing market offers certain benefits to the Colorado Springs community, the increase in housing costs makes renting a single-family home less realistic for many, including young professionals and single-income households.

As you examine your budget and weigh housing options, you may find yourself wondering if a townhouse or condo is a better option for your lifestyle and financial situation.

On average, renting a townhouse is 16-17% less expensive than renting a single-family home, while offering some of the same amenities. townhouses do require some sacrifices in terms of autonomy and privacy, however, so make sure it is a good fit for you before signing a lease

Why Consider a Townhouse?

In addition to their affordability, townhouses require less upkeep than a traditional single-family home. If you dread lawn maintenance and repainting your home’s exterior every 5-10 years, buying or renting a townhouse may be a great investment.

The HOA in these communities are responsible for all exterior maintenance, including snow removal in the winter. Shoveling your driveway and walk after a Colorado snowstorm is essential for avoiding slick and hazardous surfaces, but it can also be a chilly and physically taxing chore.

Townhouses also offer advantages over a traditional apartment unit or condo. Though not as private as a single-family home, townhouses typically have private entrances, eliminating the shared hallways of an apartment complex.

Most townhouses are narrow two-story structures, meaning that you would have neighbors on either side of you, but none above or below. This layout decreases the likelihood that you will hear your neighbors through shared walls and vice versa.

In most communities, each townhouse has its own in-unit laundry, rather than the communal laundry areas popular in apartment complexes. This feature, in addition to the small private yards that exist in most townhouse communities, results in a more house-like feel than most multi-family structures. For a more detailed comparison of apartments or condos and townhouses, read “Condos vs. Townhouses—What’s the difference?”

Despite the more private nature of a townhouse, you will still be living in relatively close proximity to your neighbors and utilizing many of the same common areas, so it may be worth thinking about whether you would enjoy the social element of a townhouse community.

If you prefer to keep to yourself and can afford a single-family home, that may be a better option.

Townhouse Rules and Regulations 

hoa rules

Living in a townhouse does require adhering to the covenants and by-laws of that community which are enforced by the HOA. These rules vary greatly from community to community but may include noise restrictions, rules about parking, and regulations regarding the external appearance of the townhouse.

Though these rules are designed to preserve the appearance and desirability of the community, some individuals may find the covenants restrictive.

If you are considering renting in a particular community, ask the landlord, previous tenant, or the HOA for a copy of the community’s governing documents.

Noise

Many HOAs enforce quiet hours at night, and some may also have ordinances regarding acceptable noise levels during the day.

Parking

Though you may have a one-car garage attached to your townhouse, many communities use carports or street parking. Parking regulations will determine where you can park and what types of vehicles are allowed. The HOA may also enforce a parking lot speed limit.

Pets

In addition to leash laws and restrictions on the number of pets per unit, HOAs often enforce breed or weight restrictions. The most common restrictions are placed on dogs over 50 pounds or “potentially dangerous” breeds, such as Pit Bull or Staffordshire Terriers, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds.

External Appearance

Other common rules deal with uniformity within the community. The HOA may have regulations regarding size and type of holiday decorations, as well as deadlines for removing the decorations. They may also prohibit landscaping or gardening in the front yard.

The Townhouse HOA

When you lease in an HOA community, you assume the owner’s responsibility for adhering to the community’s regulations. Most leases will pass the penalties for violations onto the tenant.

The only exception being if the owner (rather than the tenant) was responsible for the violation. These penalties typically include warnings or fines, but multiple violations can result in eviction for violating the terms of the lease, so make sure that you are willing to abide by the rules of the community before buying or renting.

Though an HOA fee may seem like an additional unnecessary expenditure, it covers several of the bills that you would normally be responsible for, such as trash removal, exterior maintenance (discussed earlier), and insurance coverage for the building’s exterior.

Your HOA fees may cover additional amenities, such as a community clubhouse, pool, or gym, potentially saving you money on a gym membership or fitness subscription in addition to offering more opportunities to build community with your neighbors.

How to Begin Your Search

If you are an avid gardener, value seclusion, or like the freedom to leave your Christmas lights up through March, a townhouse may not be right for you. For the right individual or family, however, these inconveniences are made up for by the affordability, community, and lack of exterior maintenance townhouses offer.

If the amenities and lifestyle of townhouse living appeal to you, check out our townhouse listings online. Before signing your lease, remember to talk to prospective neighbors and check out the community’s governing documents to make sure it is a good fit for you. Springs Homes would love to help you find the perfect community, so please contact us if you have any questions or want to schedule a showing.

The end of a lease is an important event for landlords and tenants alike. It can also be a time of conflictingwear and tear vs damage expectations. Both tenant and landlord need to understand the difference between normal wear and tear versus damage.

The landlord will usually expect their property to be returned to them in the exact condition that it was in when the tenants moved in –and if this doesn’t happen, are often happy to use the tenant’s security deposit to make it this way. Tenants, on the other hand, more often than not will expect their full security deposit back, even if there has been some damage to the rental.

In order to help manage expectations, and make the move-out process as simple and straightforward as possible, it’s important for both landlords and tenants to be on the same page. This includes having a good understanding of security deposits, and what they can and cannot be used for.

At the Time of Move-Out

At the time of move-out, the landlord or property manager is responsible for repairing any damages to the property, as well as assessing and documenting normal wear and tear. A good Property Manager will have a move-out routine that includes items like:

  • Making sure the property is clean
  • Replace all furnace filters
  • Check smoke and CO detectors are in good working order
  • Replace burnt-out lightbulbs
  • etc...

They’re also responsible for deciding who will pay for any repairs, maintenance, and cleaning that’s required to bring the property back into rentable condition.

This is the part of the process that’s often full of contention. When it comes to assessing damages, the landlord’s job is to assess the property and determine what falls under the category of damages, and what should be considered simply normal wear and tear. While damages are the tenant’s responsibility, things that fall under the category of normal wear, should not be taken out of the security deposit.

It's important that landlords not use the security deposit to pay for things that go above and beyond the scope of normal wear. They may attempt to use it for things like worn carpeting or faded paint on the walls, things that aren’t damages, but instead are just the result of normal usage. In most cases, landlords know to use the security deposit as intended, to repair damages to the property, only for the tenant to contest this, and seek to get it back. One important exception to this rule pertains to items spelled out in the lease. Examples might be cleaning or carpet cleaning. If these items are stipulated as tenant responsibility in the lease, the landlord is within their rights to use security deposit funds to pay for them, if the tenant left these items undone.

When it comes to repairs, though, the law stipulates that the security deposit should only be used for repairs to damage that goes beyond what’s considered to be ordinary wear and tear.

Colorado Law (C.R.S. 38-12-102) defines “normal wear and tear as “Deterioration which occurs, based upon the use for which the rental unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or members of his household, or their invitees or guests.”

That’s a bit confusing for landlords and tenants alike. To help clear things up, here’s a list of examples of both normal wear and tear and damage.

Normal Wear and Tear vs. Damage

Normal Wear and Tear Damage
Worn out Carpet Torn, Stained or Burned Carpet
Faded Window Coverings Torn, Mutilated or Missing Window Coverings
Worn out Keys Lost or Missing Keys
Dirty Walls Holes in Walls
Dirty Windows Broken Windows

When determining costs, the landlord will also make decisions about repairing versus actual replacement. In some cases, repair is the best choice. A good example of this would be a recent experience we had. A tenant had backed a car into the side of a home damaging a section of masonite siding. The siding was already in rough shape and the product was failing and the particular pattern was no longer available. The owner was planning to reclad the home in stucco in a couple of years anyway, so we just applied a patch using every the favorite body putty of every motorhead, "Bondo".

Wear and Tear

This repair worked out well because the owner already had a plan in place for new exterior stucco and was willing to kick the can down the road. Had this not been the case, the repair could have cost the tenant a lot more money. It’s important to note that in some cases, a landlord may charge replacement cost for an item that could be repaired with a short-term fix. So, for example, suppose a tenant punches a large hole in a wall. The landlord may choose to repair it in the short-term by simply patching it. While this temporary fix is fine for the short-term, the underlying fact is the wallboard is not the same, and the owner may choose to go back at some point and replace the entire wallboard so they are within their rights to charge for replacement.

Calculating Repairs Cost

If the item can be repaired, though, in most cases the landlord will choose to go that route. In this case, the landlord will deduct for labor, materials, and travel.

  • Calculating Average Repair Costs-It’s also important for the landlord to determine material and labor costs based off of averages. This will help to avoid conflicts, and in the event of litigation, the courts will also require a list of repairs, and having average costs will make it easier to prove your case.
  • Factoring in Depreciation-Depreciation also factors into how much the tenant ends up being charged for damages. Depreciation takes into account the fact that things have a life expectancy. This includes carpet, appliances, paint, tile, and more. This life expectancy needs to be factored into the cost of repairs or replacement.

For example: if a five-year-old carpet is destroyed and that particular type of carpeting had a 10-year life expectancy, the landlord may only charge the tenant 50% of the replacement cost. This is a good practice, and extremely important as it helps to prevent landlords from using deposit funds in order to upgrade their properties.

Here is a Sample Life Expectancy Chart:

Water Heater 10 Years
Carpeting (builder grade) 5 Years
Air Conditioning Units 7 Years
Ranges 20 Years
Refrigerators 10 Years
Interior Paint-Enamel 5 Years
Interior Paint-Flat 3 Years
Linoleum Tile 5 Years
Window Coverings (shades, screens & blinds) 3 Years

These are estimates are produced by HUD. Manufacturer estimates will vary.

Assessing the Condition of the Property

Assessing the condition of the property is the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.

This will allow the landlord to determine whether there are any damages that are the tenant’s responsibility, and therefore should be paid for out of the security deposit. It also allows them to set the condition baseline before a new tenant moves in.

The challenge is determining and documenting the condition of the property before the damage occurred. This is important in the event that the tenant disputes the damages, or if the case goes to court, as having proof that the affected or damaged area was in good condition before will generally resolve the issue.

Documentation Methods Include:

  • Written Reports: Written reports are an old method, but one that’s still in use today. With a written report, the landlord or property manager does a walk-through of the property and takes notes on its condition. Relying solely on written reports isn’t the best option, since it can be subjective, and doesn’t really provide much proof of the condition one way or the other. In most cases, property managers and landlords would be better served by using another form of documentation in addition to, or instead of a written report.
  • Apps: Some landlords prefer to use an app that prompts them for pictures and notes. Although this certainly is a step above the old-fashioned written report, in that it makes it easy to capture images and notes to go along with your report, in some cases, they just aren’t thorough enough.
  • Video: Video footage is an especially good method of documentation. To capture video footage, the landlord or property manager will perform a walk-through inspection of the home with a video recorder or phone, compiling a detailed video of the condition of the unit. However, this method can be problematic. When it comes to finding the affected item in question, having video footage means that the landlord will have to fast forward and rewind through quite a bit of footage. This can be time-consuming and uncomfortable in court. Just imagine fast forwarding and rewinding while the judge waits! Of course, you could capture image stills before you go to court, but again, this could be a time-consuming process.
  • Pictures: Taking photos is one of the best ways to document the condition of a property. And it’s especially affordable since the advent of digital photography and affordable storage options. You can take hundreds of pictures of a property and if there's damage, it's fairly easy to go back and find the photograph that references the newly-damaged area. If you choose this method, just make sure you use your digital camera’s time and date stamp feature.
  • 3D Imagery: Another new method for documenting the condition of a property, using 3D photography like the Matterport 3D camera allows landlords to do realistic virtual walkthroughs on properties. Since the footage is stored in the cloud, you can use the mouse to walk right up to the area that’s damaged and check to see what the condition was prior to their move-in. You can also take additional pictures inside cabinets, closets, and other places the camera can't see. A secondary benefit from these tours is showing prospective tenants –especially out-of-state applicants, the property before they agree to lease it.

Tenant Should Protect Themselves

Of course, there’s a lot that tenants can do to help ensure that they’ll get their deposit back at the end of their lease.

First, of course, tenants should ensure that they keep the property in good condition while they live there, and avoid anything that might cause damage to it.

Secondly, if a tenant would like to contest the landlord’s decision to apply the security deposit to damage, they can do so. The best way to do this is by being able to furnish proof of the condition of the property. In most cases, tenants should consider taking their own photos. Generally speaking, the more documentation, the better. Photos that are taken at the time of move-in could provide proof of the condition of the property, and images that are obtained, say; a month into the lease could be used as proof of damage caused by movers. It’s also a good idea to use a camera with a time and date stamp feature and to show any pictures of post-move-in damage to the landlord.

It’s also worth noting that if a landlord fails to follow Colorado security deposit laws, the tenant could be awarded up to three times the amount that was wrongfully withheld, plus attorney’s fees and court costs, so it’s important for landlords to ensure that they remain in compliance with the law, and handle the security deposit properly.

Being Clear on the Terms of the Lease

For tenants, it’s important to remember that normal wear and tear versus damage are broad definitions, and much of the detail about the condition that you’re required to leave the property in at move-out will be specified out in your lease.

It’s important to read the lease before signing it and to make sure you ask questions to ensure that you’re clear on what’s expected of you. For instance, in some cases a landlord may state that the carpets are to be professionally cleaned at the time of move-out, others will require you to perform regular, outdoor grounds keeping maintenance, so make sure you fully understand your responsibilities and requirements before you move in.

Successful and straightforward move-outs are always the result of good documentation and communication, from both parties. It’s important for landlords to spell out their expectations in the lease document, and for tenants to ensure that they’ve read the lease –and are clear on their responsibilities both in terms of maintenance, and the condition that they’re expected to leave the property in at the time of move-out.

 Additional Resources:

Springs Homes for Rent

Springs Homes for Rent has the staff, vendors, systems, and years of experience to provide you with the highest level of service and outstanding customer service. We specialize in single family homes and pride ourselves in proactive communication and full financial transparency for the best residential property management in Colorado Springs.
Springs Homes for Rent
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Colorado Springs, CO 80903
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