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Fair Housing Laws in Colorado

Colorado laws are stricter than federal fair housing laws. They protect four additional groups from discrimination and cut down on exempt properties.

Colorado has long been a pioneer of fair housing. In 1959, it became the first state in the U.S. to pass anti-discrimination laws governing private property—beating the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 by almost a decade. Today, Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws broaden the protections offered by the Fair Housing Act.

Colorado's fair housing laws protect more renters from discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act includes seven protected classes, including race and gender. Colorado law adds four protected classes to that list:1

  • Ancestry
  • Creed
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation

Some cities in Colorado have added even more protected classes:

  • Denver: military status, age (over 40), parenthood, gender variance, source of income2
  • Aspen: affectional or sexual orientation, age, family responsibility, and political affiliation3
  • Boulder: pregnancy, parenthood, gender variance4
  • Crested Butte: political affiliation, age5
  • Telluride: gender (including pregnancy and childbirth), age, family responsibility, military status, political affiliation6

“Parenthood” or “family responsibility” is similar to the federal protected class of “familial status,” but broadens it to include families with children over the age of 18.

In Denver and Boulder, “gender variance” is defined as a “persistent sense that a person's gender identity is incongruent with the person's biological sex...and including, without limitation, transitioned transsexuals.”

Fewer properties are exempt from fair housing laws in Colorado

Single-family homes and owner-occupied dwellings of up to four units are not exempt from fair housing laws in Colorado like they are on some other states. The one exception is for familial status—meaning that these types of properties may legally refuse to rent to someone if they have children under 18 years old.

The only types of rental properties that are exempt from fair housing laws in Colorado are:7

  • A room for rent in a single-family home that is also occupied by the owner (or lessee)
  • Non-commercial housing run by religious organizations or private clubs, which can give preference to their members

A final note: There are no exemptions to the Fair Housing Act’s laws around advertising, which ban landlords from making, printing, or publishing discriminatory statements. No one is exempt from the Civil Rights Act of 1866, either, which prohibits any sort of racial discrimination when renting or selling property.

Colorado has greater “remedies” for discrimination

A “remedy” is an action taken by courts to enforce the legal rights of someone who won a civil lawsuit. Often, remedies are monetary—for instance, a certain amount of money awarded to the plaintiff to compensate them for their losses.

In Colorado courts, there are greater remedies for housing discrimination than in federal courts. Specifically, state courts can fine landlords or management companies for any discriminatory act (in addition to awarding damages to the plaintiff).8 Federal courts, on the other hand, can only fine a party who has demonstrated a systematic pattern of discrimination.

Complaints can be filed on a state or national level

Individuals who believe they have experienced housing discrimination in Colorado may file a complaint, either on a national level with the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) or on a state level with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD). The complaint must be filed no more than a year after the alleged incident.9 The timeline is longer for lawsuits, which may be filed in court up to two years after the alleged incident occurred.10

[1] C.R.S. § 24-34-501 et seq.

[2] Denver Code of Ordinances §28-91

[3] Aspen Municipal Code § 15.04.570

[4] Boulder Municipal Code § 12-1-2

[5] Crested Butte Municipal Code § 10-11-10

[6] Telluride Municipal Code § 10-6-10

[7] C.R.S. § 24-34-502

[8] C.R.S. § 24-34-508

[9] C.R.S. § 24-34-504(1)

[10] C.R.S. § 24-34-5056(1)

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