Radon is a radioactive, odorless gas naturally found in soil and groundwater—it has long been a concern for public health. Recognized by authorities such as the U.S. Surgeon General and the World Health Organization, as a carcinogenic toxin, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. It is responsible for approximately 500 deaths annually in Colorado alone.

How Radon Enters Homes

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the decay of uranium in the soil and rocks beneath the Earth's surface. Here's how it can enter homes:

  • Soil: The most common source. Radon seeps through cracks and gaps in the foundation or walls in contact with the soil.
  • Water Supply: Particularly in well water, radon can be released into the air when water is used for showering or other household purposes.
  • Construction Materials: Some building materials, though less commonly, can emit radon, but this is usually a minor source compared to soil and water.
  • Air Pressure: Lower air pressure inside the home than the soil around the home's foundation can draw radon indoors.
  • Natural Ventilation: Radon can enter through windows and doors if the outdoor air contains radon (less common).

Think of your home as a vacuum, sucking in radon from the ground. Especially in poorly ventilated homes, radon can accumulate to harmful levels.



When to Worry: Understanding Radon Levels and When to Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends reducing radon levels in homes with a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. It's worth noting that the EPA does not describe any level of radon exposure as "safe," but the 4 pCi/L level is where the agency recommends taking corrective action.

Given the gravity of the risks, the Colorado State Senate has taken decisive action to protect its residents by enacting SENATE BILL 23-206. This legislation significantly expands the scope of radon disclosure laws, setting rigorous new protections and guidelines that impact tenants and landlords.

When to Test

Radon experts recommend different testing based on the history of radon in a particular property. Here's a breakdown of recommendations for the State of Colorado:

  • Every 5 years: The home has been tested, results were below 4 pCi/L, and no mitigation system has been installed
  • Every 2 years: If the property currently has a system
  • As Soon as Possible: The home has never been tested

The recommendation to test regularly exists for a couple of reasons. First, radon levels can fluctuate over time due to changes in soil composition, water tables, or even construction activity nearby. A test a few years ago may not accurately reflect the current situation.

Second, seasonal variations can significantly affect radon levels. For example, radon tends to accumulate in higher concentrations during winter when homes are sealed off from the outside. This can create a false sense of security if a test is conducted during a season when radon levels are typically lower.

Regular testing ensures that you can take timely action if levels rise above the recommended safety limits, thereby protecting the health of all occupants.

Introducing Senate Bill 23-206

SENATE BILL 23-206 is a comprehensive update to Colorado's radon disclosure laws, enhancing transparency and safety in residential property transactions. It's a legislative effort to regulate the presence of radon, an odorless, radioactive gas linked to lung cancer, in homes across Colorado. 

This bill mandates that landlords disclose whether a property has been tested for elevated radon levels, among other critical information. The legislation also enforces tenants' rights to know about radon risks before signing a lease.

It introduces the possibility for tenants to void a lease if landlords do not comply with these disclosure requirements. By setting these measures, the bill aims to minimize radon-induced health risks by ensuring that homebuyers and renters are well-informed before making a housing decision.

Before the enactment of SENATE BILL 23-206, Colorado's approach to radon primarily catered to homebuyers rather than tenants. Real estate transactions often included a radon advisory clause that informed potential buyers of the risks associated with radon exposure and recommended that they conduct tests before purchasing a home. 

However, no explicit protections were in place for tenants that mandated landlords to disclose information about radon levels in rental properties. While buyers had some safeguards through contractual advisories, renters navigated a more ambiguous landscape with less clarity and protection. SENATE BILL 23-206 aims to change this imbalance by introducing explicit disclosure requirements for landlords, thereby leveling the playing field for buyers and renters.

Key Features and Legislative Updates

Inclusion of Tenants: Perhaps the most groundbreaking aspect of this bill is its inclusion of rental properties. Unlike before, landlords must now provide tenants with radon disclosures before signing a lease. This plugs a significant gap, as tenants were largely overlooked in prior radon regulations.

Tenant Rights: If landlords don’t comply with the new radon requirements, tenants can void the lease. This is a powerful incentive for landlords to comply with the new legislation, giving tenants a recourse mechanism.

Warranty of Habitability: The bill integrates the issue of radon into Colorado’s warranty of habitability laws. Non-compliance with the new radon disclosure requirements can result in landlords breaching this warranty, adding another layer of tenant protection.

Real Estate Commission’s Role: The bill tasks the Real Estate Commission with creating rules to implement these new disclosure requirements, thereby involving a regulatory body to oversee and ensure compliance.

Exemptions Clarified: Individuals testing or mitigating radon in their own homes are exempt from these regulations. This provides a clear exemption pathway that was not explicitly stated in prior laws.

Effective Date: The law takes effect 90 days after the general assembly adjourns unless a referendum petition is filed. It applies to contracts and leases entered into after this date, making it a forward-looking regulation.

In summary, SENATE BILL 23-206 considerably updates and expands existing radon laws in Colorado. It shifts from mere advisories to explicit requirements, expands protection to renters, and imposes greater obligations on sellers and landlords, thereby offering a more comprehensive approach to managing radon risks.

New Implications for Tenants and Landlords

Tenants' Right to Know: One of the major shifts with SENATE BILL 23-206 is that tenants now have a legal right to know if a rental property has been tested for radon. This adds a layer of transparency that was previously missing and largely focused on homebuyers.

Landlord Disclosures: The bill mandates landlords provide detailed radon disclosures to prospective tenants if they know of any radon tests and the results before signing a lease. This is significant because landlords are now legally obligated to be transparent about radon risks and any mitigation measures are taken.

Ability to Void Leases: The legislation empowers tenants to void a lease if the landlord fails to meet radon disclosure and mitigation requirements. This is a major leverage point for tenants, allowing them to take decisive action if their safety is compromised.

Integration into Warranty of Habitability: Perhaps the most impactful aspect of this new law is incorporating radon issues into Colorado’s warranty of habitability. If a landlord fails to comply with radon disclosure requirements, they effectively breach this warranty, offering tenants another layer of legal protection.

In summary, SENATE BILL 23-206 greatly enhances protections for tenants while holding landlords more accountable for radon disclosures and mitigation. It closes existing gaps in legislation by extending key features initially designed for homebuyers to the rental market. It's a win for tenant safety and a call for greater responsibility for landlords.

Concluding Thoughts and Suggestions

SENATE BILL 23-206 represents a significant milestone in Colorado's approach to radon safety, particularly for tenants. While previous regulations primarily catered to home buyers, this legislation extends crucial protections to renters, making the rental landscape more transparent and accountable. 

For landlords, the bill necessitates an update in disclosure practices and incorporation of radon safety into the very fabric of the leasing agreement vis-à-vis the warranty of habitability. To prepare for these changes, landlords should act proactively by conducting radon tests, updating lease agreements with the required disclosures, and familiarizing themselves with tenants' new rights. 

On the other hand, tenants should educate themselves on this bill's provisions, ask the right questions before signing any lease, and be aware of their new rights, including the ability to void a lease if landlords fail to comply. Essentially, this bill prompts a paradigm shift, making radon safety a collective responsibility rather than a one-sided affair.

Understanding reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications is essential for landlords navigating today's multifaceted housing market. These terms describe the changes a landlord or housing provider may be required to make—either to policies or physical features—that make residential spaces more accessible for individuals with disabilities.

Comprehension and compliance with these terms isn't just a moral duty; it's also a legal requirement. Failure to make these adjustments can lead to legal repercussions.

This article serves as a guide to demystifying these important terms, enlightening a property owner or property manager on creating accessible housing while fulfilling their legal obligations.

Reasonable Accommodations:

Reasonable accommodations refer to changes in rules, policies, or services that make a residential property more accessible for individuals with disabilities. Unlike modifications, these adjustments don't involve altering the physical structure of a property but focus on adapting existing practices and services.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations:

  • Service Animals: Modifying a "no pets" policy to permit an assistance animal, service animals, companion animals, or emotional support animals for tenants with relevant needs.
  • Reserved Parking: Designating a specific parking space close to the building entrance for a tenant with mobility challenges.
  • Flexible Rent Payment: Altering rent due dates or offering alternative payment methods for tenants whose disability or mental impairment affects their ability to manage finances conventionally.
  • Package Assistance: Helping a tenant with disabilities by receiving mail or packages when they cannot do so themselves.

Understanding and implementing such accommodations is a legal requirement for landlords and contributes to a more inclusive and equitable living environment for tenants with a disability-related need.

Reasonable Modifications:

Reasonable modifications are physical or structural changes made to a rental property's living space or common areas to accommodate special conditions or a tenant's disability. Unlike accommodations, which involve changes to rules or policies, modifications require actual changes to the physical structure of the dwelling.

Examples of Common Reasonable Modifications:

  • Installing Grab Bars: Adding support bars in the bathroom to assist tenants with mobility issues.
  • Ramp Installation: Installation of a ramp to provide wheelchair access to the property.
  • Door Widening: Expanding the width of door frames to make the living space more accessible for tenants using wheelchairs.
  • Lowering Countertops: Adjusting the height of kitchen counters to make them accessible for tenants who use wheelchairs.

Comprehending and appropriately implementing reasonable modifications is crucial for landlords, not just to adhere to legal obligations under laws like the Federal Fair Housing Act, but also to offer an inclusive and accessible living environment for all tenants.

Overview of Landlord Obligations Under the Law

A Property Manager or Landlord has specific legal obligations to accommodate tenants who make a reasonable accommodation request. If the tenant is disabled under various U.S. laws, primarily the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). These obligations serve to level the playing field, ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to housing opportunities. Failure to meet these obligations can result in legal consequences, including fines and potential lawsuits.

When and How to Comply with Requests for Accommodations or Modifications

  • Timeline for Compliance: When a tenant requests an accommodation or modification, time is of the essence. Although there's no universally mandated timeframe, the best practice is to respond "promptly," usually within 10 business days. Delays can be perceived as failure to accommodate, which could have legal ramifications.
  • Verifying Disability: Landlords are permitted to ask for verification of disability if it's not obvious. However, they cannot inquire about the nature of the individual's disability or seek medical records.
  • Negotiation and Alternative Solutions: If the request places an "undue burden" on the landlord, alternatives can be negotiated. For example, if a tenant requests a structural change that’s too expensive, both parties can explore less costly but equally effective modifications.
  • Payment for Modifications: Usually, the tenant covers the costs of reasonable modifications. However, landlords might be required to bear the cost if a state or federally-assisted program or local ordinances require them to do so. federally-assisted program
  • Written Agreements: It’s advisable to put any agreements regarding accommodations or modifications in writing. This helps maintain a clear record and protects both parties in case of disagreements.

Understanding the law and its requirements is essential for any landlord. By knowing when and how to comply with requests for accommodations or modifications, landlords fulfill their legal obligations and contribute to an inclusive living environment.

Understanding the legal framework surrounding federal nondiscrimination laws, reasonable accommodations, and modifications in residential housing involves two major U.S. laws: the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fair Housing Act (FHA)

Role in Residential Housing:

The FHA is the cornerstone of anti-discrimination laws in housing. FHA fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Under the FHA, landlords are obligated to make reasonable accommodations and modifications to provide equal housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Implications for Accommodations and Modifications:

The FHA mandates that landlords must make, or allow tenants to make, reasonable modifications to their living space or to common use areas at the tenant's expense. Furthermore, landlords must make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services to give people with disabilities equal opportunities to use and enjoy a dwelling.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Relevance to Residential Housing:

While the ADA primarily focuses on common use spaces and public spaces, it does have limited applicability in residential settings. The ADA applies to rental offices or any other places that are open to the public within residential complexes. For example, if a rental office is located within an apartment complex, that office must be ADA-compliant.

Overlap with FHA:

Some aspects of ADA and FHA do overlap, especially when a residential complex offers amenities that are open to the public. For instance, swimming pools or gyms within a residential complex might need to comply with ADA guidelines in addition to FHA requirements.

Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications in Residential Housing Accommodations:

Both these terms come into play under the FHA, which specifies that landlords must provide reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications. The ADA might also come into the picture if the residential property has public spaces.

In summary, both the FHA and ADA contribute to shaping the landscape for reasonable accommodations and modifications in residential settings. Landlords need to be well-versed in the specifications and requirements of both acts to ensure full compliance and to offer an inclusive and accessible environment.

Who Enforces Compliance?

Various federal and state agencies and local governments enforce compliance with laws surrounding reasonable accommodations and modifications.

Federal Agencies Involved

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

This is the primary federal agency responsible for enforcing the FHA. HUD would investigate a fair housing complaint, provide guidelines, and initiate lawsuits against landlords or property managers for non-compliance.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

  • Legal Repercussions: Failure to comply can result in civil penalties, fines, and even legal action. The penalties can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity and duration of the violation.
  • Reputation Damage: Non-compliance has legal consequences and can severely damage a landlord's reputation, making it harder to attract quality tenants in the future.
  • Potential for Lawsuits: Tenants who believe they've been discriminated against can file lawsuits, leading to further financial strain and legal complications for the landlord.

In a nutshell, compliance with reasonable accommodation and modification laws is enforced primarily by HUD at the federal level. The stakes for non-compliance are high, involving severe legal and financial consequences including federal court. Therefore, understanding and adhering to these laws are crucial for landlords.

Best Practices for Handling Accommodation Requests

Handling a requested accommodation or modifications requires a careful, systematic approach to ensure compliance with the law and maintain good tenant relationships. The administrative burden for these requests falls on the landlord or property manager.

Documentation and Record-keeping

  • Formal Request System: Implement a formal process for tenants to submit requests for accommodations or modifications. This could be an online form or a standardized paper form.
  • Record Retention: Keep all documentation and additional information related to requests, approvals, and denials. This includes written communications, modification cost estimates, and medical verifications. Store these securely to maintain tenant privacy.
  • Written Agreements: Whenever a request is approved, draft a written agreement outlining what changes will be made, who will cover the costs, and any other relevant details.

Communication Strategies with Tenants

  • Prompt Responses: Reply to any request for an accommodation or modification as swiftly as possible, generally within 10 business days.
  • Open Dialogue: Maintain an open line of communication with the tenant. If a request cannot be accommodated as initially proposed, the landlord should discuss an alternative accommodation.
  • Clarity and Transparency: Communicate any requirements, such as the need for medical verification of a disability, and provide a timeline for when the modification or accommodation will be completed.
  • Respect Privacy: Be cautious to respect the tenant's privacy throughout this process. For example, only ask for verification of a disability when the need for an accommodation or modification is not apparent.

By implementing robust documentation and record-keeping procedures and effective communication strategies, landlords can handle requests for accommodations and modifications in a manner that respects the law and the tenant's needs. It’s important to maintain the standard for all requests, not on a case-by-case basis.

Real-world Examples and Lessons Learned

Understanding real-world cases can offer valuable insights into how to successfully comply with accommodation and modification requests or the consequences of failing to do so.

Example 1: Successful Compliance Situation:

A tenant with a mobility impairment requested that grab bars be installed in the bathroom for safety.

Landlord Action: The landlord approved the request and worked with the tenant to install the grab bars, even going so far as to cover the cost as a goodwill gesture.

Lesson Learned: Prompt and empathetic action can build a strong, positive relationship with tenants, going beyond mere legal compliance. It also fortifies the landlord's reputation as fair and accommodating.

Example 2: Failure to Comply Situation: A tenant required an emotional support animal, but the apartment had a strict "no pets" policy.

Landlord Action: The landlord denied the request, stating that the "no pets" policy was non-negotiable.

Consequence: The tenant filed a complaint with HUD, which led to an investigation and subsequent fines against the landlord for discrimination under the FHA.

Lesson Learned: Rigid policies that aren't adjusted for reasonable accommodations can lead to legal consequences and damage to reputation. It underscores the importance of understanding and complying with laws relating to reasonable accommodations.

In summary, these case studies show that successful compliance benefits both the landlord and the tenant, creating a harmonious living environment. Failure to comply not only invites legal ramifications but can also significantly harm a landlord's reputation and future business prospects.

Conclusion: Key Takeaways and Continued Education

Navigating the terrain of reasonable accommodations and modifications is critical to modern property management. Landlords must comply with federal laws, most notably the FHA and ADA, to provide equal housing opportunities for all tenants, including those with disabilities.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Promptly respond to accommodation and modification requests.
  • Keep thorough and secure documentation.
  • Maintain open and respectful communication with tenants.
  • Failure to meet these responsibilities can result in legal action and financial penalties, not to mention reputational damage. Therefore, staying educated about changes in laws and regulations is not merely optional but essential for today's landlords.

Keeping abreast of legal requirements isn't just about avoiding penalties; it's also about building a more inclusive, equitable environment for all. The benefits extend beyond compliance, improving tenant relations and, by extension, the overall success of your property management efforts.

In an ever-changing world, the laws and regulations governing landlord responsibilities will inevitably evolve. Continuous education, consultation with legal experts, and proactive management are your best tools for staying ahead of the curve and successfully meeting the needs of all tenants.

If you rent your home, following the terms of your lease is one key to a smooth living experience in your rental home. This includes any responsibilities around home maintenance and utilities.

Renting a single-family home generally comes with different responsibilities than renting an apartment. In an apartment setting, the building management usually handles most maintenance tasks. However, when you're in a single-family home, you'll often find that you're responsible for some basic maintenance activities. These can range from yard work to maintenance items around the house.

Many of these tasks require active utilities; for example, you'll need water for lawn care, electricity for power tools, a service for trash collection, and possibly gas for heating systems. It's not just about paying the utility bills; it's also about understanding how utilities play into your broader responsibilities as a renter in a single-family home.

Who Pays and Why?

When it comes to utilities, the most straightforward scenario for a tenant is to include all utilities in their monthly rent. However, this is relatively rare, particularly in single-family home rentals, for several reasons that pose potential problems for the landlord.

  • Variable Costs: Utility costs can fluctuate significantly, making it difficult for the landlord to predict monthly expenses accurately. Including utilities in the rent would mean the landlord bears the risk of higher-than-average utility usage.
  • Lack of Incentive for Conservation: When utilities are included in the rent price, tenants may not have a strong incentive to conserve energy or water, leading to wasteful usage and higher bills for the landlord.
  • Complex Billing: It becomes administratively complex for landlords to separate utility costs for individual units, especially if the property doesn't have separate meters.
  • Legal Risks: Landlords may expose themselves to legal risks if they cannot provide utility services for reasons beyond their control. For instance, if a tenant fails to pay the rent, which includes utilities, the landlord cannot shut off utilities without risking legal action.
  • Cash Flow Risks: If utilities are included, landlords may face a financial pinch during months when utility costs spike. This can disrupt their cash flow and make it challenging to maintain the property or pay the mortgage and other bills.
  • Potential for Conflict: Disputes could arise between landlords and tenants regarding what constitutes "reasonable" usage of utilities, especially in extreme weather conditions where heating or cooling costs could skyrocket.

For these reasons, most landlords require tenants to handle utility payments separately from the monthly rent to protect their financial interests and encourage responsible utility usage.

Cutting Off Utilities Can Cost You More in the Long Run

Many tenants are taken aback by the high utility costs they face and might resort to reducing or shutting off their utilities to save money. However, this can result in property damage. Therefore, it's crucial to read your lease carefully and understand your responsibilities about utilities. Before signing a lease, it's a good idea to research and find out what utility costs you can expect so you're not caught off guard.

One common mistake people make when moving out of a rental unit is turning off the utilities. While it may seem easy to cut expenses, it can lead to several problems, such as water damage, frozen pipes, and an unkempt landscape. If the landlord has to turn the utilities back on, you could be liable for additional costs, including repairs and restoration. Therefore, keeping the utilities on until your lease expires or until you are completely moved out is best.

It's important to avoid the common mistake of moving out while still owing money for utilities. This can create problems for your landlord and delay new prospective tenants' move-in process. Failing to pay your utility bills can damage your rental history and negatively impact your credit score.

So, whether you're a long-standing tenant or someone new to renting, being well-informed about your utility responsibilities ensures a smooth living situation for everyone involved. Always manage your utility expenses according to what your lease agreement stipulates.

Both tenants and landlords need to understand that shutting off utilities can create significant complications, even if it seems like a logical step to take when vacating a property. To avoid issues, tenants should always seek the landlord's permission before requesting a utility company to shut off any utilities. By doing so, tenants can ensure a smooth transition, avoid unnecessary costs, and maintain a positive relationship with their landlord.

Let's review some best practices concerning rental property utilities to guide you in maintaining a great relationship with your landlord and clarify your roles as a tenant. This isn't just about rules; it's about making your renting experience as smooth as possible while being a responsible tenant.

Transfer Utilities Don’t Terminate

First and foremost, as a tenant, you should never disconnect, cancel, or terminate utility services, be it water, natural gas, or air conditioning. While tenants in most single-family rentals are generally responsible for their own monthly utility payments, it's crucial to understand that you're also accountable for any damage that might occur to the property due to utility disconnection. This applies whether you're going out of town, leaving the rental home early, or breaking the lease.

Utility companies and the property owner rely on consistent utility usage to maintain the rental unit's condition. Interruptions in service can lead to various risks, including damage to the property for which you could be liable. If any damage occurs due to utilities being shut off, the property owner has the right to deduct the cost of repairs from your security deposit. Managing your monthly costs for utilities responsibly not only safeguards you against unexpected expenses but also ensures a smooth living experience for everyone involved.

Understanding the potential damages when utilities are disconnected can help you make informed decisions as a tenant. Here are some key points to consider:

  • A Dead Lawn and/or Landscaping Due to Water Being Shut Off: Tenants often look to save money on their water bill by turning off the sprinkler system. When the water supply is interrupted, your lawn and landscaping will go without hydration. Over time, this can lead to a dry, dead lawn and wilted plants, which could be costly to revive. A dead lawn is an eyesore and could violate community or property management rules.
  • Melted Ice from the Ice Maker Causing Damage to the Floors: Disconnecting utilities often means turning off the electricity, which would defrost your freezer and ice maker. The melted ice can leak onto the floors, potentially damaging them. Depending on the type of flooring, water damage could lead to warping, staining, or even mold growth.
  • The Sump Pump Would Fail to Work During a Rainstorm: Sump pumps require electricity. If there's a heavy rainstorm and the power has been disconnected, the sump pump won't work. This could lead to flooding in the basement or lower levels of your rental property, causing extensive damage that can be expensive to repair.
  • Broken Pipes in Winter Due to Lack of Heat: Natural gas or electrical heating is crucial during the winter months to prevent the water in the pipes from freezing. If the heat is turned off, water in the pipes could freeze and expand, leading to broken or burst pipes. The resulting water damage could be extensive, affecting walls, floors, and the property's structure.
  • No Water for the Cleaning Crew to Do Their Job: If you're moving out and the cleaning crew comes in to prepare the property for the next tenant, the absence of water will make it impossible for them to clean effectively. This could delay the property being ready for the next tenant and potentially incur additional costs for rescheduling the cleaning crew.

Consistent utility services are crucial for a smooth move and to avoid additional costs and complications.

There will often be a reconnect fee when the landlord has the utilities turned back on. In addition to the damages, this fee can also be taken out of your security deposit.

Help for Tenants

If you're a tenant having trouble paying your utility bills, you're not alone; help is available. Look into local utility assistance programs that can help you cover costs like electricity and heating. These programs are usually easy to apply for, but you might need to show that you need the help. These programs can save you from late fees and keep your utilities running.

Here are several programs aimed at helping tenants who are struggling to pay their utility bills. These include federal, state, and local government initiatives and programs run by utility companies and nonprofit organizations. Here are a few examples:

  • LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program): This federal program provides financial assistance to low-income households to manage their energy bills.
  • Payment Plans: Some utility companies offer flexible monthly payment plans for those who can't pay their entire bill at once.
  • Charitable Organizations: Organizations like the United Way or Salvation Army sometimes have funds dedicated to help with utility bills.
  • Local Government Assistance: Many local governments also have emergency relief funds for utilities, especially during extreme weather conditions.
  • Discount Programs: Some utility companies offer discounted service for low-income households.
  • Utility Relief Grant: Some states offer grants to tenants to cover the costs of utilities, often as part of emergency relief services.

Do your research before signing a lease. Falling behind on utility payments can hurt your credit score and relationship with the landlord. Seek help proactively to avoid problems.

If you can't pay your utility bills and don't qualify for assistance programs, talk to your landlord. You both have a shared interest in keeping the property in good shape. Working together on a solution is a smart move.

Protection That Landlords Should Take

While the utilities shouldn’t be disconnected, the unfortunate fact is that it still can happen. Tenants cancel the services instead of transferring them, or unpaid utility bills pile up, resulting in the utility company shutting them off. For this reason, landlords should proactively take steps to help protect themselves and their property.

Here’s a look at a few things that landlords can do:

  • Turn on Third-Party Notifications - Third-party notifications allow the landlord or property manager to be copied on communications between tenants and the utility company. This will alert them if the utilities will be shut down, canceled, suspended, or transferred.
  • Have the Utilities Revert to Owner - Setting up the utility account to revert to the landlord helps eliminate the gap left when tenants leave. It also means there should be no reconnection fees, enabling landlords to always be in the know.
  • Outline Requirements in the Lease - Finally, and perhaps most importantly, landlords should always protect themselves with an airtight lease outlining a tenant’s responsibilities, requirements, and consequences for nonpayment. A violation of the rental agreement that damages the property could result in the landlord being able to apply part or all of the security deposit toward the damages.

Here is a look at some important lease clauses that should be included in the lease:

  • A list of all utilities that tenants are responsible for
  • The stipulation that tenants are not permitted to have the utilities shut off
  • A requirement for tenants to place the utilities in their name effective the first day of the lease
  • A stipulation that a tenant’s failure to place the utilities in their name is a violation of the lease
  • A provision that the tenant agrees that a copy of the lease may be provided to a utility company and that the landlord is entitled to receive delinquent billing or cut-off notice from the utility company without the consent of the tenant
  • A stipulation that if, for any reason, a tenant has the utilities turned off, the landlord can charge a reconnect fee for each utility, plus any utility company charge
  • A stipulation that failure to pay the utilities is considered to be a violation of the lease
  • A stipulation that if the utility company does not allow the tenant to place the utilities in their name and bills the owner or landlord, the landlord will provide a copy of the utility bill to the tenant and the tenant must pay the landlord.
  • A stipulation that tenants can and will be evicted for non-payment of utilities
  • A stipulation that, should the tenant leave before the lease is up, resulting in the landlord being required to pay the utility bill, the amount can be taken from the security deposit

In many cases, if there is an outstanding balance on the account, the utility company will not provide services to the next tenant, and in some cases, the landlord, before the balance has been paid. For this reason, any outstanding balances the tenant owes should be pursued.

Note: Just as tenants should avoid turning off the utilities at the rental property, landlords should also. While some landlords may be tempted to shut off a tenant’s utilities due to a violation of the lease or in an attempt to force an eviction, in almost every situation, this is against the law, and doing so could result in the tenant taking legal action against the landlord. Landlords need to ensure that they refer to and abide by the eviction laws in their state.

Utilities for Rental Properties: Best Practices for Tenants

As a responsible tenant, staying informed about utilities is essential to fulfill your obligations and maintain a positive relationship with your landlord. In case your landlord overlooks providing utility information, you can proactively follow these best practices to ensure a seamless experience.

Ask Questions

If you have any questions regarding your rental agreement or concerning your utilities, it’s important that you ask your landlord. Always ask questions about utility services and the billing process before you sign the lease.

Here are a few good questions to ask:

  • Are the utility accounts in the tenant’s name or the landlord’s?
  • Which utilities does the tenant need to set up?
  • Are there preferred providers for each utility?
  • What is the contact information for each of the utility providers?
  • Are there any outstanding utility charges on any of the account
  • What kind of heating is in the unit?
  • Where are the thermostat, fuse box, and hot water heater located?
  • Who is in control of the temperature settings?
  • When is the heat turned on?
  • Does the landlord charge a fee for any late or unpaid utilities?

Know Your Responsibilities

The term utility refers to several different services. Standard utilities include electricity, gas, water, sewer, and garbage. Other services such as phone, cable, and internet –are additional amenities. Tenants are generally responsible for most utilities in single-family rentals. However, in some cases, landlords may cover the cost of utilities that are required but fall outside of the scope of what we would consider standard utilities; this includes things like Internet service or security system subscriptions. It's important to note that each rental agreement varies, so it's crucial to clarify which utilities are your responsibility.

Set Up Your Utility Accounts Promptly

Transfer the utilities into your name as soon as possible upon moving in. In some cases, you may even be able to schedule a utility transfer before you move in. Note that as a tenant, you are only responsible for the utilities you use during your tenancy.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Paying your utilities promptly and on time is important. It’s also a good idea to keep documentation of the payment and any communication between you and the utility company and/or landlord in reference to your bills. By keeping current with your bill, you will reduce your chances of running into problems. Tenants behind on utility payments should contact their utility provider to resolve the issue quickly.

Take Action to Resolve Utility Disputes Quickly

The key to resolving most disputes is documentation. If your utility company has a problem with your payment or lack thereof, having the proper documentation to prove that you did make the payment can help to keep you out of trouble. If you have a problem with your bill, take steps to reconcile this quickly so as not to incur any late fees and to avoid disruptions with your services.

At the end of the day, utilities are usually the tenant’s responsibility, but ultimately, the rental is the landlord's property. Because of this, any damage caused by or expenses incurred from shutting off utilities or failing to pay can usually be taken directly from the security deposit.

Tenants –if you have any questions regarding the utilities for your rental property – don’t hesitate to ask your landlord or property manager. Being well-informed on your rights, as well as your responsibilities as a tenant is vital for ensuring that you abide by the terms of your lease and can help to save you from a tremendous amount of money –and hassle.

Navigating the balance between a landlord's right to inspect and manage their property and a tenant's right to privacy and quiet enjoyment is a delicate task that demands mutual respect and understanding.

On one hand, landlords have a legitimate interest in maintaining their investment, ensuring that the property is in good condition, and verifying that tenants follow the lease terms. This often calls for periodic inspections, repairs, and maintenance visits.

On the other hand, it is a tenants’ right to "quiet enjoyment" of their rented space, which includes a reasonable expectation of privacy. State laws, local laws. and lease agreements often balance these competing interests by establishing guidelines such as requiring "reasonable notice" before entry and limiting the reasons a landlord can enter a rented space.

In the lease agreement, the importance of clarifying expectations around the routine inspection or walk-through on a rental property cannot be overstated. This is a foundation for a transparent, respectful, and lawful relationship between the landlord or property manager and the tenant. Without clear terms, misunderstandings and conflicts can easily arise, leading to strained relationships or even legal disputes.

For landlords and property managers, outlining the specific reasons for a landlord inspection—whether for repairs, maintenance, safety checks, or routine inspections—establishes a guideline to operate within the bounds of the law and the rental agreement. It sets the tenant's expectations right from the start, allowing them to understand their obligations and rights better.

Knowing these terms beforehand gives prospective tenants a clear picture of what to expect and how to prepare. It equips them with the knowledge to protect their own rights, especially their right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of the property. If a tenant knows, for example, that a landlord will conduct quarterly routine inspections, it won't come as a surprise and they can prepare accordingly.

Therefore, both parties must get these terms in writing before signing any lease agreement. Verbal agreements or assumptions are not sufficient and can lead to ambiguity. A written agreement is a formal record that can be referred to in case of any disagreement or dispute, providing security and clarity for both parties.

In summary, clearly outlining the lease agreement's terms regarding inspections and walk-throughs is not just a good practice—it's a necessary step for safeguarding the interests, rights, and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant.

The Story of Emily and Property Manager Mark

Emily had recently moved into a new apartment managed by Mark. Enthusiastic about the new chapter in her life, she skimmed through the lease agreement and hastily signed it without reading it thoroughly. Mark sent her written notice a month later that he would perform a routine property inspection in 48 hours, as stated in the lease agreement.

On the inspection day, Emily's room was messy, with clothes strewn about and personal items cluttering her desk. Feeling uncomfortable with the idea of Mark seeing her space in disarray, she closed her bedroom door when he arrived. As Mark proceeded with the inspection, he noticed that Emily's door was closed and asked if he could inspect the room. Emily, feeling uneasy, politely refused ​​as she felt this was an invasion of privacy.

Mark's suspicions were aroused. To him, a closed door often signified that a tenant might be hiding something that violated the lease terms. Per the lease agreement, Mark gave Emily 24 hours advance notice that he would return to inspect her bedroom.

Distressed, Emily reached out to her friend Sarah, who happened to be an attorney, and asked, "Can a landlord look in my bedroom?"

Sarah first admonished Emily for not reading her written lease agreement carefully but then delved into her rights as a tenant. She explained that landlords or property managers generally have the right to inspect any part of the rental unit for specific reasons like repairs, maintenance, or routine inspections, as long as they provide proper notice and the inspections are performed at reasonable times. She told Emily that the lease agreement Emily signed stipulated that any part of the apartment could be inspected with 24 hours' notice, which Mark had abided by.

Sarah suggested that Emily clean her room and allow the inspection to proceed, as Mark had a valid reason and followed the lease agreement's protocols. She reminded Emily that not complying with the lease agreement might jeopardize her security deposit or, worse, put her in legal hot water.

Sarah then went on to discuss what could happen if Emily did not comply with the landlord's right to inspect. "Let's say you continue to refuse Mark's entry into your bedroom for the inspection," Sarah began. "In that scenario, you're not just jeopardizing your relationship with Mark; you could also be violating the terms of your lease. Depending on state laws and what's outlined in your written lease, refusing a lawful landlord entry for an inspection could result in eviction notices being issued against you."

Sarah continued, "If the situation escalates and you still don't comply, Mark could potentially secure a court order, granting him the legal right to enter your apartment and carry out the inspection, despite your objections. If a court has to intervene, not only would this strain your landlord-tenant relationship, but you could also incur additional legal costs. More importantly, this entire fiasco could end up on your rental history, making it harder for you to rent in the future."

Emily's eyes widened. She hadn't realized the serious legal implications of not allowing a simple property inspection.

"In extreme cases, continual non-compliance with inspection clauses could provide grounds for eviction," Sarah added, "and trust me, going through an eviction process is something you want to avoid at all costs. It's not just a legal nightmare; it's emotionally and financially draining."

Sarah concluded, "Remember, the lease is a two-way street. Mark has responsibilities, but so do you. Your legal rights as a tenant also come with legal obligations. Ensuring a smooth inspection process by following the guidelines in your lease is an obligation that shouldn't be taken lightly."

After their discussion, Emily fully understood the weight of her responsibilities under her lease agreement. She felt grateful for the free legal advice and made a mental note to be more vigilant in the future. As for Mark, he appreciated Emily's newfound respect for the lease terms, bolstering his confidence in her as a responsible tenant.

The Follow-Up Inspection

With Sarah's advice, Emily tidied her room and prepared for Mark's inspection the next day. Upon seeing that everything was in order, Mark felt satisfied that no lease violations were occurring in the bedroom. From that day on, Emily familiarized herself with all the terms of her lease agreements. Mark continued to conduct his property management responsibilities in compliance with the law.

This experience taught Emily the importance of fully understanding her lease agreement. At the same time, Mark was reminded that clear communication and adherence to legal procedures are key to maintaining a positive landlord-tenant relationship.

Why Clear Communication is Crucial for Successful Rental Property Inspections

The importance of having specific reasons for a rental inspection, along with giving tenants as much notice as possible, is key to a smooth landlord-tenant relationship. For instance, consider Mark from our earlier story. He did everything by the book—sent out a 48-hour notice, and clearly stated the inspection was routine. This clarity removes any guesswork for the tenant and keeps the relationship on solid footing.

Conversely, conducting inspections without adequate notice or a specific reason can be a recipe for trouble. Most places have laws requiring landlords to provide a "reasonable notice"—often 24 to 48 hours—before entering a tenant's space. Failing to do so could lead to legal action. So, being transparent and following the rules is not only good manners. It's smart business and legally prudent.

The Benefits of Professional Expertise in Property Management and Law

In summary, establishing clear guidelines for property inspections and giving proper notice are indispensable elements for fostering a harmonious and lawful landlord-tenant relationship. Specificity in the reasons for inspections and adherence to notification rules, as exemplified by property manager Mark, can mitigate misunderstandings and protect both parties legally. Conversely, arbitrary or surprise inspections can erode trust and may lead to legal consequences. 

Given the complexities and legal nuances involved in leasing homes, both landlords and tenants should enlist the expertise of professional property managers and real estate attorneys. These professionals can ensure that all actions are compliant with the law, and that lease agreements are comprehensive and fair, and that both parties' interests are adequately protected. In the long run, professional guidance can save time and potential legal hassles, making the leasing experience more straightforward and secure for everyone involved.

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.


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.

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


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.

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.


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.

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.


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


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.


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.

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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