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Colorado House Bill HB 23-1068 How Does This Impact Landlords?

As we enter the new year, property owners and landlords must be aware of significant legislative changes in Colorado’s rental and property management sector. These changes, primarily aimed at enhancing tenant fairness, mark a substantial shift in the legal landscape.

For landlords, understanding the implications of these changes is crucial. The new regulations necessitate adjustments in the management of security deposits, the execution of background checks, and the structuring of lease agreements to ensure compliance with the updated laws.

We recognize the importance of these developments and are committed to providing our clients with comprehensive insights. Our series of articles will meticulously dissect these changes, offering clear and detailed guidance on how they may affect your property management practices.

A notable piece of legislation that demands attention is Bill HB 23-1068, which specifically addresses the issue of pet rent. This bill introduces new regulations regarding how landlords can charge for pets in rental properties, a matter of significant interest given the prevalence of pets in many households.

HB 23-1068 establishes boundaries and guidelines for pet deposits and pet rent, aiming to strike a balance between the rights of tenants with pets and the protection of landlords’ interests. Our analysis will cover the specifics of these changes, their potential impact on your rental agreements, and the necessary steps for ensuring compliance.

Understanding the intricacies of HB 23-1068 is essential, regardless of your stance on pets. We are here to assist you in navigating these changes, ensuring you are well-prepared and informed as we move into 2023.

Overview of HB 23-1068

HB 23-1068 is a significant piece of Colorado legislation that primarily addresses pet rent in rental properties. This bill sets forth new guidelines and limitations regarding how landlords can charge for pets residing in rental units. The legislation is designed to balance the interests of tenants with pets and the rights of property owners.

Landlord Responsibilities:

  • Limit on Pet Deposits and Rent: Landlords are restricted in the amount they can charge for pet deposits and additional pet rent. The bill caps the additional security deposit for pets at $300, which must be refundable.
  • Pet Rent Calculation: The additional pet rent cannot exceed $35 per month or 1.5% of the tenant’s monthly rent, whichever is greater. This calculation is particularly important for landlords to adhere to, especially in setting rent prices for properties with varying rental rates.

Compliance with New Standards: Landlords must ensure that their lease agreements, deposit requirements, and rent calculations comply with HB 23-1068 stipulations. This includes adjusting existing policies and communicating changes to current and prospective tenants.

Tenant Responsibilities:

  • Adherence to Pet Policy: Tenants are responsible for complying with the pet policies set by the landlord as long as these policies align with HB 23-1068. This includes paying the stipulated pet deposit and monthly pet rent as required.
  • Pet-Related Damages: While the bill limits the amount that can be charged as a pet deposit, tenants remain responsible for any damage caused by their pets. If pet-related damages exceed the pet deposit, landlords may have recourse to other security deposits under the lease terms and state laws.
  • Disclosure and Agreement: Tenants must disclose the presence of pets and agree to the terms outlined in the lease regarding pet ownership, including the agreed-upon deposits and rent.

In summary, HB 23-1068 introduces specific financial limitations and guidelines for landlords in Colorado regarding pet deposits and rent, aiming to create a fair environment for tenants with pets. Both landlords and tenants have distinct responsibilities under this bill, emphasizing the need for clear communication and adherence to the new legal framework.

Does HB 23-1068 Affect Emotional Support and Service Animals?

HB 23-1068 in Colorado, which addresses the issue of pet rent and pet deposits, does not apply to service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs). Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), these animals are not considered pets but are necessary for their owners’ health and well-being.

Service Animals: Under the ADA, service animals are defined as dogs individually trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations to allow service animals, even in properties that otherwise have a no-pet policy. They cannot charge extra fees or deposits for service animals.

Emotional Support Animals: ESAs are covered under the FHA. They are not required to have specific training like service animals. Landlords are generally required to allow ESAs and make reasonable accommodations for tenants with ESAs. Similar to service animals, landlords cannot charge additional fees or deposits for ESAs.

It’s important for landlords to understand these distinctions and ensure that their policies comply with federal laws regarding service animals and ESAs, in addition to state-specific regulations like HB 23-1068. When dealing with requests for accommodations for these animals, landlords should handle them on a case-by-case basis, ensuring compliance with both federal and state laws.

Can a Landlord Charge Pet Rent or a Deposit For a Service or Emotional Support Animal?

No, a landlord cannot legally take a deposit or charge pet rent for a service animal or an emotional support animal (ESA). Under federal law, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA), these animals are not considered pets but rather necessary accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Service Animals: The ADA mandates that service animals, which are typically dogs trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, must be allowed in public accommodations and housing without extra charges. This means landlords cannot charge pet rent or a pet deposit for a service animal.

Emotional Support Animals: Under the FHA, ESAs are provided certain protections in housing. While ESAs do not require specific training like service animals, they are considered a reasonable accommodation for individuals with mental or emotional disabilities. Landlords are required to allow ESAs without charging additional fees or deposits, even in housing with a no-pet policy.

It’s important for landlords to understand these legal requirements and not to confuse service animals and ESAs with regular pets. Charging extra fees or requiring deposits for these animals can lead to legal consequences, including discrimination claims. When a tenant requests an accommodation for a service animal or ESA, landlords should handle the request per federal laws, ensuring they do not violate the rights of tenants with disabilities.

Who is Responsible For Damages

Responsibility for damage caused by animals in a rental property can vary depending on the type of animal (pet, service animal, or emotional support animal) and the circumstances of the damage. Here’s a breakdown:

Pets: Generally, tenants are responsible for any damage caused by their pets. This is typically covered under the terms of the lease agreement. Landlords often collect a pet deposit to cover potential damage caused by pets, which is separate from the standard security deposit.

Service Animals: While service animals are not considered pets and landlords cannot charge a pet deposit, tenants are still responsible for any damage caused by their service animals. The ADA stipulates that a person with a disability may be charged for damage caused by their service animal, just as they would be charged for damage they cause themselves.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs): Like service animals, tenants are responsible for any damage caused by their ESAs. Although landlords cannot charge a pet deposit or pet rent for ESAs, they can hold the tenant accountable for any damage caused by the ESA. This would be handled in the same manner as damage caused by the tenant.

In all cases, landlords must document any damages and follow the appropriate legal procedures for withholding any part of the security deposit to cover these damages. It’s also advisable for tenants to have renters insurance, and pet liability insurance that covers damage caused by their animals, whether pets, service animals, or ESAs.

What About Allergies?

If you’re a landlord and have animal allergies, you may still be required to allow service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs) in your rental property, as they are protected under federal laws. However, there are some considerations and potential accommodations that can be made:

Service Animals: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals must be allowed in public accommodations and housing, even if the landlord has allergies. Service animals are not considered pets but are necessary for individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with service animals.

Emotional Support Animals: The Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with ESAs. This includes allowing ESAs in the property even if the landlord has a no-pet policy or allergies.

Balancing Rights: In situations where a landlord’s health is adversely affected by the presence of an animal, it may be possible to negotiate a solution that respects both the tenant’s need for the animal and the landlord’s health concerns. This could involve looking into possible allergy mitigation strategies or, in multifamily housing situations, arranging for the tenant to reside in a different unit where the impact on the landlord is minimized.

Seeking Legal Advice: Because these situations can be complex and involve balancing the rights of individuals with disabilities against the health needs of landlords, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel. A lawyer can guide you in navigating these situations while remaining compliant with federal laws.

Personal Use Properties: There might be exceptions if you are living in the property and renting out part of it, and it’s a small rental property. The FHA has an exemption for owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units.

It’s important to handle these situations sensitively and comply with the law. Direct, open communication with the tenant and seeking professional advice can help find a workable solution.

In Conclusion

Personal preferences or inclinations play no role in accommodating emotional support animals and service animals in rental properties. Federal laws mandate landlords to make reasonable accommodations for these animals, emphasizing the necessity of compliance over personal choice. Regarding pets, while landlords retain the right to charge a pet deposit or pet rent under the new HB 23-1068 Bill, it’s important to recognize the evolving rental market dynamics. In today’s environment, properties that prohibit pets might also face more challenges in attracting tenants. 

Understanding and adapting to these changes is crucial for successful property management as the rental landscape shifts. Staying informed and flexible can help landlords navigate these regulations effectively, ensuring compliance and market competitiveness.

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