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What Colorado Renters Need to Know About Eviction

Colorado law lays out an eviction process that is both simple and fast—tenants do not have much time to correct bad behavior, and a judgment of eviction can happen sooner than you might expect.

What is an eviction?

An “eviction” is a formal legal process whereby a court grants permission to the owner of real property to remove the person residing in that property. Note the word “formal”—evictions, known as actions for “Forcible Entry and Detainer” in Colorado, are not casual things.

What are acceptable reasons for eviction?

Contrary to what you may believe, a landlord cannot evict you for any reason whatsoever, and cannot simply change your locks and throw your possessions on the curb. There are three major grounds for eviction in Colorado:

  • You didn’t pay rent
  • You violated your lease agreement, which includes overstaying your lease
  • You committed a “substantial violation” of the law in your residence

What is a “substantial violation,” you ask? Essentially, if you are doing something in or around your unit that puts the “health, safety, and welfare” of others at risk, you can be evicted for it. Like many states, Colorado specifically states that if you are selling drugs from your home, you can be evicted. Violent crimes committed on the premises, such as domestic violence, can also be grounds for eviction. So can “public nuisances,” a broad category that can include anything from continuous excessive noise, to spilling toxic chemicals everywhere.

What is the eviction process like?

Initial notices

If your landlord wishes to evict you, his first step will be either handing you or posting on your door a “Demand for Compliance or Right to Possession,” also known as a “three day notice.” This is the case no matter the reason he wants you evicted - it’s the same form, and the same three days’ worth of notice, no matter what. However, Colorado law actually allows tenants and landlords to waive even this three days’ of notice in the event of a breach of the lease (not a non-payment of rent). In other words, if your lease waives your right to this notice, your landlord can proceed immediately to eviction without notifying you in advance.

Summons and Complaint

After the time period expires on the notice you received, if you have not yet paid your rent or cured your breach, your landlord will serve you with a Summons and Complaint.

The Summons will provide you with a court date, and your landlord’s reasons for attempting to evict you. Study it carefully! If you wish to mount a defense, you are going to need to prepare for your court appearance by gathering evidence to counter the claims your landlord is making in this document.

Appearing in court

Either before or at your court appearance, you will be able to file an Answer. In your Answer, you can lay out your reasons for why you should not be evicted.

At your court appearance, you will be able to state your case directly to the judge. If you feel that your eviction is unjust, bring proof! For example, if you did not pay your rent because repairs were not done properly, show the judge proof of those faulty repairs. The more information you can provide, the better. The judge will then schedule a future trial date, where both sides can formally present their respective cases.

If you lose your eviction case, your landlord will receive from the court a “Writ of Restitution”. Your landlord can take this Writ to a sheriff, who will execute it by removing both you and your possessions from the residence. One thing to note - the sheriff cannot simply change your locks and keep you out. He needs to escort you, with your belongings, out of the residence.

Your landlord may also receive a separate judgment from the Court which awards him damages. This can be for things like unpaid rent, legal costs, or damages he is claiming you made to the apartment.

How should notices be delivered to me?

The Summons and Complaint must be formally served on you. This can be done via mailing and posting the complaint on your front door, but if your landlord is asking for anything more than a Writ of Restitution, he needs to have you personally served by a sheriff or process server. In other words, if he is also asking for a money judgment, only in-person service of the Summons and Complaint is acceptable.

What’s the timeline for an eviction?

Colorado evictions that are uncontested tend to move quickly. A local attorney has put the estimated eviction process at a maximum of 26 days. However, if you decide to contest your eviction, it can take longer as there will be a trial held in which both sides can formally present their cases.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.