Colorado landlord-tenant laws can be tricky to understand, but knowing your rights as a renter, property manager, or landlord can protect you from legal issues. While we suggest talking to a lawyer for specific legal advice, this overview of Colorado's landlord-tenant law will help you better understand the rights and responsibilities contained in a typical lease agreement in the Centennial State.

So, let’s get to it.

What's in a Rental Agreement in Colorado?

If you're renting a place in Colorado or you're a landlord, you know there's some important paperwork to do before you get or give the keys. This paperwork is usually a rental agreement or lease. It's a written deal between the landlord and the people renting the place. It says that the landlord lets the renters live there in exchange for rent.

Even though Colorado law doesn't say you must have a written lease, it's a really good idea to have one. It makes things clear and helps stop any mix-ups or mistakes.

Here's what you usually find in a Colorado rental agreement:

  • How much rent is, when it's due, and how you can pay: This part tells you the rent amount, the due date each month, and ways you can pay (like check or online).
  • Who's involved in the agreement: This includes the names of the landlord and everyone renting the place.
  • Details about the property and what comes with it: This is about the place you're renting, like how big it is, and any extra things like a pool or gym.
  • Rules about being late with rent, being asked to leave, or ending the lease early: This covers what happens if rent is late, how and why someone might be asked to leave, and how either side can end the lease.
  • Security deposit info: This talks about the money you pay upfront that can be used for repairs if something gets damaged.
  • What utilities you should use: Sometimes, it suggests which companies to use for things like water and electricity.
  • Warnings about things like old paint or bugs: The law says landlords must tell you if there's stuff like lead paint in older buildings. There are official lease forms that provide more information on what may or may not be present in the building.

Remember, landlords and renters both have rights and rules they need to follow. These can be different depending on where you are in Colorado. These rules ensure everyone is treated fairly and the place is safe and nice to live in.

Landlord Rights and Responsibilities in Colorado

In Colorado, as per the state's laws, landlords have several rights and responsibilities. Here's what they can and must do:

  • Collect Rent and Security Deposits: Landlords have the right to collect rent from their tenants. They can also keep security deposits if there's damage to the property, but they have to follow specific rules about how much they can ask for and when they need to return it after the tenant moves out (This is outlined in the Colorado Revised Statutes Section 38-12-103).
  • Evict Tenants: If a tenant breaks their lease agreement (e.g., not paying rent or causing serious damage), the landlord can ask them to leave. But they can't just tell them to get out immediately. There's a legal process they have to follow, which includes giving the tenant a warning and sometimes going to court (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-40-107).
  • Smoke-Free Properties: Landlords can say 'no smoking' on their property, but this rule needs to be clear in the lease agreement. Tenants should know about it before they move in.
  • Safe and Habitable Homes: One of the biggest responsibilities for landlords is to make sure the place they're renting out is safe and liveable. This means things like having working plumbing, heating, and electricity and making sure the property meets safety standards.
  • Tell Tenants About Changes: It's good for landlords to let tenants know if something's going to change that might affect their living situation. This includes things like when repairs are going to happen or if the rent is going to go up. For raising rent, they often need to give the tenant a heads-up a certain amount of time before the increase.
  • Other Important Duties: Besides these, landlords in Colorado need to follow fair housing laws (which means not discriminating against tenants), fix things when needed to keep the property in good shape, and respect the tenant's privacy. They should tell the tenant before they come over, except in emergency situations.

Tenant Rights and Duties

Tenants have the right to a safe, habitable living space. If a landlord fails to provide essential services, tenants may have the right to withhold rent or sue the landlord for retaliation. At the same time, tenants are also responsible for keeping the unit safe and habitable and avoiding activities that could disturb neighbors or other occupants. 

Other tenant responsibilities may include the following:

Maintain the property and make minor repairs as needed
Pay rent on time as described in the agreement
Avoid damaging the property
Comply with the rules outlined in the rental agreement

Suppose the tenant fails to comply with these rules. In that case, it may result in late fees, non-refunded deposits, and even eviction—so it’s important to communicate with the landlord ahead of time to avoid penalties and maintain a positive tenant-landlord relationship.

All of the details regarding landlord-tenant laws in the state of Colorado and their individual responsibilities under the law can be found on the official government site for the state of Colorado.

Fair Housing Act & CADA

In the U.S., Tenants have the right to housing regardless of race, origin, religion, disability, or gender, according to the Fair Housing Act. This federal law states that landlords do not have the right to discriminate against protected classes of people. 

In addition to the federal Fair Housing Act, Colorado has special state rules that go beyond what the federal government says about fair housing. Here are the additional protections afforded by the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA):

  • More Protected Groups: Besides the groups the federal law protects (like race and gender), Colorado law adds more. These include ancestry, creed, marital status, and sexual orientation. Also, in 2020, Colorado included rules about hairstyles related to race.
  • Rules for More Types of Homes: Unlike some other places in Colorado, these fair housing rules generally do not cover small buildings and houses, even if the owner lives there. There's an exception, though – places with kids under 18 might have different rules.
  • Special Rules in Some Cities: Different cities in Colorado might have even more rules. For example, Denver protects military status and ages over 40, among others. Aspen, Boulder, Crested Butte, and Telluride have their own additional rules, too.
  • What a Landlord Can't Do: The law says landlords and property managers can't do things like refuse to rent or sell a house to someone in these protected groups, treat them unfairly, or lie about whether a house is available.
  • If You're Treated Unfairly: If someone thinks they've been treated unfairly, they can complain to the Colorado Civil Rights Division or the federal government's housing department.

Rental Payment Obligations

While the Colorado landlord-tenant agreement should clearly outline rent due dates, how to pay, where to pay, any late fee policies, and bounced check fees, as well as any other essential details - there is no specific Colorado law that mandates a landlord to allow a particular form of payment, such as non-electronic methods. Colorado law does not specifically govern which payment methods landlords may or may not accept for the payment of rent.

Rent Increases and Notices

In Colorado, there are no state laws that limit the amount a landlord can raise rent. Landlords in Colorado can raise the rent by any amount they wish. However, if there is no written lease agreement, landlords must provide at least 60 days' notice before increasing the rent. There is no specified notice period for rent increases when there is a written lease agreement, but landlords cannot increase the rent during the lease term unless the lease allows for it (e.g., a commercial lease with scheduled rent increases built-in). 

[quote]Colorado law does not have rent control, and state law prohibits local governments from establishing their own rent control laws​.[/quote]

Bounced Checks & Late Fees

In Colorado, tenants and landlords need to be aware of specific regulations regarding late rent fees and charges for bounced checks. According to Colorado state law:

  • Late Rent Fees: Landlords in Colorado are permitted to charge a late fee, but only if the rent is over seven days late. The maximum amount of the late fee is capped at the greater of $50 or 5% of the overdue rent. This regulation ensures that tenants are not excessively penalized for late payments. However, it's essential that the lease agreement explicitly mentions the possibility of a late fee; otherwise, the landlord cannot legally impose it.
  • Bounced Checks: In situations where a rent check is returned due to insufficient funds, Colorado law allows landlords to charge a bounced check fee. The maximum fee that can be charged is $20, but this is contingent on the fee being clearly stated in the rental agreement. This regulation provides a measure of protection for landlords against the inconvenience and potential financial loss caused by bounced checks.

Other Fees in Colorado

In Colorado, when it comes to renting a place, there are specific rules about application fees and advance rent payments that both landlords and tenants should know.

Colorado's Rental Application Fairness Act creates a clear set of rules for application fees and other lease-related fees:

  • Act Implementation Date: The Rental Application Fairness Act in Colorado took effect on August 2, 2019.
  • Purpose of Application Fees: Landlords are allowed to charge application fees.
  • Usage of Fees: The entire amount of the fee must cover the costs incurred in processing a rental application, such as credit and background checks.
  • Basis for Fee Amount:
    • Fees should reflect the actual cost of processing an individual application.
    • Alternatively, fees can be based on the average cost if the landlord processes multiple applications.
  • Receipt and Refund of Unused Fees:
    • Landlords must provide a receipt for the application fee.
    • Any unused portion of the fee must be returned to the applicant within 20 days of processing the application.
  • Ensuring Fairness: The law aims to ensure that application fees are fair and directly related to the costs of processing applications.

Regarding rent payments, in Colorado, it's common for landlords to ask tenants to pay the first month's rent before moving in. This practice is part of the lease agreement process and is a standard procedure in the rental industry. It helps landlords ensure that they have secured payment before the tenant occupies the property.

These laws help to ensure transparency in the rental process and protect the interests of both parties involved. Knowing and complying with these rules can help avoid misunderstandings and legal issues down the line.

Security Deposits

In the state of Colorado, there are very specific rules regarding residential security deposits. Here are the most important things you need to know:

  1. Security Deposits - Not Always Required: In Colorado, landlords don't have to ask for a security deposit, but most of them do. The amount they ask for can be different from place to place. Sometimes, it's as much as one month's rent or even more. This can depend on what's included in the rental, like a gym or a pool, and what the landlord decides.
  2. Giving the Deposit Back: When a tenant moves out, or the lease is over, whichever happens last, the landlord has to return the security deposit within one month. Sometimes, the lease can say it can take up to 60 days. But, if a tenant leaves because the landlord didn't fix something really serious, the landlord may have to give back the deposit within 72 hours.
  3. When Landlords Can Keep Some of the Deposit: If a tenant owes rent, has caused damage beyond regular use, didn't pay for utilities, or if there's a cleaning fee that was agreed on, the landlord can use part of the deposit for these costs. But the landlord has to list all the reasons they're keeping some of the money and tell the tenant about it within a specific time frame (typically the same time frame as is required for returning the security deposit). 
  4. Checking the Place Before Moving In: It's smart for landlords to carefully check and record how the rental looks before anyone moves in. This helps them later to figure out if they should keep part of the deposit for any damages. Likewise, asking the tenant to document the condition of the rental as it was when they first moved in is generally a good idea, too.
  5. Rules If the Landlord Doesn't Return the Deposit Properly: If a landlord doesn’t follow the rules - like not giving the deposit back on time or not listing why they kept some of it - they might have to pay the tenant up to three times the amount they wrongly kept. However, before a tenant can go to court, they have to let the landlord know in writing at least seven days prior to filing.

These Colorado-specific laws regarding security deposits are detailed in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 38-12-103.

We've written extensively about the Top Reasons Not to Return a Tenant’s Deposit if you're interested in learning more about residential rental security deposit laws, common practices, and more.

Lease Termination in Colorado

Notice Requirements for Lease Termination: The notice period required for terminating a lease in Colorado depends on the length of the lease:

Less than 1 Week1 Day Notice
1 Week to 1 Month3 Days Notice
1 to 6 Months7 Days Notice
6 to 12 Month28 Days Notice
Year-to-Year91 Days Notice

Reasons for Early Termination by Tenant: Colorado law does allow for early termination of a lease under specific circumstances, such as:

  • Active military duty.
  • The rental unit is uninhabitable.
  • Landlord harassment.
  • Being a victim of domestic violence.
  • In the presence of a gas hazard.

Obligations for Rent Payment: Even if a lease is terminated early for valid reasons, the tenant may still be responsible for the remaining rent unless the landlord is able to re-rent the unit. Landlords are required to make reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit, and if they succeed, the original tenant is no longer liable for the remaining rent.

Landlord's Legal Obligations: If a landlord wrongfully withholds the deposit after lease termination, they may be liable for up to three times the amount withheld, in addition to legal fees.

Note of Entry

In Colorado, there are basic tenant rights that dictate the types of notices that may be required under specific circumstances when landlords want to enter the rental property. Here are some of those requirements:

  1. Notice Requirement for Entry: Colorado law does not generally require landlords to provide a specific amount of notice before entering a rental property. However, landlords are advised to provide at least 24 hours' notice as a courtesy and to avoid interfering with the tenant's quiet enjoyment of the property. The only specific legal requirement for notice involves bedbug inspection and treatment, where a minimum of 48 hours prior notice is required​​​​.
  2. Entry Without Permission: Landlords in Colorado can enter a rental property without explicit permission from the tenant as long as it doesn't interfere with the tenant's quiet enjoyment. This includes reasons like maintenance, inspections, property showings, and emergencies. However, frequent or unreasonable entries might be contested as a disturbance to the tenant​​.
  3. Tenant's Right to Privacy: Tenants have a basic right to physical possession and privacy of their rental property. If a landlord enters against a tenant's wishes, and it's not for a legally justifiable reason, it could be considered an interference with possession, potentially leading to claims of constructive eviction​​.
  4. Landlord Entry During Tenant's Extended Absence: While specific rules regarding entry during a tenant's extended absence aren't detailed, it's generally advisable for landlords to respect tenant privacy and provide notice, especially if the lease or rental agreement stipulates such conditions.

In summary, while Colorado law doesn't mandate a specific notice period for most types of entries, landlords are recommended to provide reasonable notice (typically 24 hours) for maintenance or inspections to respect the tenant's privacy and quiet enjoyment. For bedbug treatments, a 48-hour notice is legally required. Landlords should refrain from entering a tenant's dwelling excessively or without a valid reason to avoid legal disputes.

Regardless of what laws are on the books, notices are always appreciated and will result in happier tenants and better landlord-tenant relationships. 


The eviction process in Colorado has specific guidelines that differ based on the reason for eviction and the type of rental property. Here are the details regarding residential evictions in Colorado:

Notice Period for Nonpayment of Rent:

  • If a tenant fails to pay rent, landlords must provide different notices depending on the situation:
    • 5-Day Notice to Pay if the landlord has five or fewer rental properties.
    • 3-Day Notice to Pay for tenants in employer-provided housing.
    • 10-Day Notice to Pay for all other tenancies.
  • After the notice period, if the tenant hasn't paid, the landlord can proceed with filing for eviction.

Lease Violations:

  • For minor lease violations, the notice period also varies:
    • 5-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate for landlords with five or fewer rental properties.
    • 3-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate for employer-provided housing.
    • 10-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate for other tenancies.

Illegal Activities:

  • For involvement in illegal activities, landlords must issue a 3-day Notice to Vacate.

End of Lease or No Lease:

  • The notice period for termination varies depending on how long the tenant has lived on the property, ranging from 1 day for less than a week's tenancy to 91 days for tenancies of a year or more.

Prohibited Actions During Eviction:

  • Landlords cannot lock tenants out of the property or shut off utilities as a means of eviction. These actions are illegal.

Tenant Obligations Post-Eviction:

  • Tenants who are evicted are still liable for unpaid rent unless the landlord can re-rent the unit. Landlords must make a reasonable effort to re-rent.

It's important to note that these guidelines are subject to change, and different cities in Colorado may have additional regulations. For the most current information, we recommend that you consult with state-based legal resources or local government websites​​​​.


If you’re new to renting in Colorado, you may feel overwhelmed by the local landlord-tenant laws, especially since they are unique to other states. But with a little reading, you’ll have a better idea of landlord and tenant rights in no time.

And if you want to make things easier with customizable lease agreement templates, notices, and more, you can try FREE for 45 days.