It’s every renter’s desire to finish a leasing term, but sometimes, situations can occur that make this impossible. It might be due to job relocation, marriage, divorce or a host of other reasons. Whatever it may be, it results in them breaking the lease.
There are certain consequences that occur when you break a lease in Colorado Springs, CO. This article focuses on the governing Colorado Lease Laws. We’ll go over the reasons the court accepts when breaking a lease, how it might affect the security deposit, and how to follow the proper procedures when terminating a lease in Colorado. Being armed with the right information will protect you, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant in Colorado Springs.
Terminating a Colorado Lease
While you might assume that it is easy for a tenant to break the lease, it is tough for both parties, as it can lead to negative effects. A lease is a legally binding contract, so for the tenant, it can harm their credit score, make it harder to find another rental property, and may subject them to lawsuits and damage expenses, which can be taken out of their security deposit. Their security deposit will also not be refunded.
For landlords, the lengthy legal process of suing a tenant for breaking a lease in Colorado Springs can be tiring and quickly rack up court costs. It will also force them to find a new tenant to replace the previous one.
Landlord Rights & Responsibilities
Even if there are reasonable grounds for eviction, landlords are not allowed to:
- Cut off a tenant’s usage of utilities by restricting the electricity/water sources.
- Change the locks and alter passcodes of the rental unit to restrict tenant access.
- Remove doors and windows to force the tenant to look for other properties.
Here are things to keep in mind for a lease termination notice in Colorado Springs, Colorado:
For a leasing period of 1 week or less, written notice to terminate can be 1 day.
For a leasing period of 1 week to 1 month, written notice to terminate can be 3 days.
For a leasing period of 1-6 months, written notice to terminate can be 7 days.
For a leasing period of 6-12 months, written notice to terminate can be 28 days.
For a yearly lease with no end date, written notice to terminate should be 91 days.
Keep in mind that fixed end date leases do not require notices from a Colorado landlord, since it has a definite end date.
Tenant Rights and Duties
Colorado landlord tenant law requires both landlords and tenants to adhere to the lease. Landlords can’t simply raise the rent in the middle of a tenancy (unless stipulated in the lease), and they also can’t make tenants leave without legal cause. A landlord is obliged to hand a tenant who fails to pay their rent a 10-day notice to pay or quit. A tenant also has the legal right to the quiet enjoyment of the space they rent out.
If there’s a repetitive violation to the lease, the landlord may also hand the tenant an unconditional notice to leave the rental unit. The tenant is them expected to move out in 10 days. Otherwise, the landlord can start filing for an eviction lawsuit.
When Terminating a Lease is Legally Justified
Colorado tenant laws say that if the rental unit is uninhabitable and does not meet safety and health standards, tenants can be labeled as “constructively evicted”. This means they aren't expected to fulfill their tenant obligations, such as pay rent, and can legally break the lease, since the landlord has not performed their duties to make the appropriate repairs within the given period.
Some of the expected basic provisions a landlord must guarantee his tenants are the following:
- Good, working condition of plumbing, heating and gas facilities
- Clean and sanitary common areas that are free from garbage and infestation
- Roofing and exterior walls must be waterproofed and weather-protected
- Running water and hot water must be reasonably provided
Under landlord tenant laws in Colorado, a tenant must inform his landlord in written form about hazardous conditions of gas appliances or equipment in the rental unit. The landlord then is tasked to provide repairs within 72 business hours.
Otherwise, if the repair isn’t performed within that given period, a tenant can legally move out and stop paying rent. The lease is considered void under these circumstances.
When a Tenant Experiences Invasion of Privacy from a Landlord
Colorado landlord tenant laws do not have any specific notice period to follow in terms of landlord entry. However, as a landlord, you must still provide notice to respect the tenant’s legal right privacy in the unit they rent. Lockouts are also illegal in Colorado, and landlords cannot change the locks without proper notice. Otherwise, you risk facing a lawsuit for violating Colorado tenant laws .
When a Tenant is a Victim of Domestic Violence
Colorado tenant rights say that a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence is protected by a special rental provision. The landlord can’t simply terminate the lease in this case.
As a landlord, you're prohibited from penalizing a tenant who reached out to law enforcement because of domestic violence. But a landlord is entitled to ask for proof of the status of domestic violence.
Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant
When a tenant is breaking a lease, the landlord is required to lessen damages by taking reasonable efforts to look for a new tenant to rent the unit. This is done to reduce losses. The State requires landlords to be more proactive in re-renting their units, rather than passively expecting the current tenant to shoulder the remaining rent.
Buying a new house, relocating and moving in with another housemate are not legally valid reasons for terminating a lease. However, if a tenant has no other option, it's best that they communicate this with the landlord and provide a longer notice period.
If you have specific questions about Colorado lease laws, hire the services of a qualified attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable property management company.
Note that this blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.