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Constructive Eviction in Colorado

Colorado landlords must maintain their properties in a livable condition. Otherwise, tenants have the right to vacate the property and break the lease.

All states have some form of the implied warranty of habitability, which requires landlords to keep their properties in a livable condition. Closely related to this warranty is the covenant of quiet enjoyment, which guarantees a tenant the right to access and fully use their rental unit. States allow the tenant to claim constructive eviction in the event that the landlord fails to live up to either obligation.

Some states give renters this right via state law, while others create what is called a “common law right,” which is established by court opinions. Colorado uses both statutes and common law to deal with the issue of constructive eviction.

Gas leaks are a valid reason for constructive eviction

The state has a specific statute that addresses any kind of a gas leak in a rental unit.1 The tenant must inform the landlord of the condition in writing, at which time the landlord has 72 hours to fix the problem after receiving the notice (excluding weekends and holidays). If the landlord doesn’t make the repair within that time period, the tenant can vacate the residence and void the lease. The landlord also must return the security deposit.

Even if the tenant doesn’t follow this process to the letter, courts have recognized that tenants still have the right to claim constructive eviction under common law. In one case, the renters had a gas-related issue and did not inform the landlord in writing. The court found that the statute and its required procedures did not eliminate the tenant’s common law right to leave the residence and claim constructive eviction.2

Tenants can claim constructive eviction for other reasons

Although gas leaks are one specific reason that a tenant could terminate their lease and move out, there are many other issues that could be considered a breach of the warranty of habitability—and therefore a good reason for constructive eviction. For instance, a court found that the removal of a load-bearing wall during a renovation gave sufficient cause for constructive eviction.3

Constructive eviction is a complicated concept and one that should not be treated lightly. Consulting an attorney is advisable before abandoning a property and attempting to void the lease.

[1] Colorado Code § 38-12-104

[2] Copeland v. Lincoln

[3] Kraffert v. Young

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