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Know the Laws: Colorado

UPDATED September 18, 2017

If you are a tenant in Colorado, your lease cannot be terminated solely because you are a victim of domestic violence or because you have requested emergency assistance, such as from a peace officer, in response to a domestic violence situation.  Also, you cannot be fined for requesting emergency assistance and you cannot waive (give up) your right to call for such assistance.  Additionally, you can terminate your lease early if you are victim of domestic violence with minimal penalties.  Some basic information on these housing laws is below.

back to topWho is protected by these housing laws? What protections do these laws offer?

Colorado offers various housing/tenancy-related laws that protect victims of abuse.

First, your landlord cannot terminate your lease, fine you, or otherwise penalize you for calling the police or other emergency assistance in response to domestic violence.  Furthermore, you cannot give up your right to call the police or other emergency assistance for help during your tenancy.*

Second, you may terminate your lease early if you:

  1. Want to vacate (leave) your apartment/house because you are afraid that you and/or your children face immediate danger as a result of domestic violence or domestic abuse;
  2. Notify your landlord in writing that you are a victim of domestic violence or domestic abuse; and
  3. Give your landlord one of the following documents:
  • a police report written within the past 60 days documenting the domestic violence or abuse; or
  • a valid protection order.**
Note: You may have to pay one month’s rent for the month after you leave the residence.***  See Once I terminate my lease, will I owe the landlord any money? for more information.

Lastly, you may not be evicted solely because you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse (although you can be evicted for other reasons).****

* Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-402(1)
** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-402(2)(a)
*** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-402(2)(b)
**** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-402(3)

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back to topOnce I terminate my lease, will I owe the landlord any money?

Possibly.  The law says that the tenant is responsible for one month's rent after s/he leaves the residence if the landlord has experienced and documented damages (loss of money) that are equal to at least one month's rent as a result of the tenant's early termination of the lease.  This payment to the landlord would be due within 90 days of vacating your apartment/house.  The landlord can keep your security deposit until you pay that one month’s rent or the landlord can use your security deposit to off-set the money you would owe him/her.*  

What often happens is that the landlord holds onto the security deposit and returns it if s/he is able to quickly re-rent the apartment/house (and if the security deposit isn’t needed to repair physical damage to the unit).  If the landlord cannot quickly re-rent the apartment/house, s/he keeps the security deposit in lieu of the rent payment due. 

* Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-402(2)(b)

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