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Colorado Property Management Laws

Colorado has highly specific laws related to real estate investments and renting. Landlords must meet federal, state and local regulations when advertising and leasing residential properties. While Colorado has one set of laws regarding rentals, another state may have dramatically different legislation, making property ownership a complex issue, particularly for out of state owners. Property management companies may be more up-to-date on local regulations.

This guide offers a broad overview of the laws that may affect landlords in Colorado, providing guidance on lease creation, advertising and other activities. Learn about required maintenance, when to hold on to a deposit and how to handle evictions. Both property managers and landlords should have a detailed understanding of best practices for Colorado.

Key Points

  • 1 Property managers in Colorado are typically required to be licensed real estate brokers. This requirement does not extend to property owners who choose to directly manage their units.
  • 2 Property management companies may be more familiar with local regulations that can be highly specific, particularly regarding building codes and habitability standards for residential dwellings.
  • 3 In Colorado, application fees can only total the amount of the processing expenses and all amounts collected in excess of the actual costs must be refunded to the applicant.
  • 4 There is no maximum amount set for rent or late fees, but all terms must be spelled out in an enforceable and legal lease agreement with signatures from all parties.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.

Code Description
12-61-101(2)(a)&(b) Licensing Laws
HB19-1106 Rental Application Laws
38-12-101 thru 104 Security Deposit Laws
13-40-101 thru 108 Lease and Termination Laws
None Rent and Late Fee Laws
None Disclosure Laws
38-12-503 Landlord Responsibility Laws
38-12-501 thru 511 Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

Rental Application Laws

Can a landlord charge an application fee?

Yes, Colorado landlords can charge an application fee, but it must be no more than the costs incurred to process the application. HB19-1106 provides detailed guidance on charging rental application fees, returning unused fees and the application process. 

Can a landlord run a credit check and background check?

Yes, rental applications can include both a credit check and a criminal background check, but there are restrictions on what information can be used when making a rental determination. For example, a landlord may only use the most recent seven years of credit and rental history to approve or deny an application. 

For criminal background checks, a landlord cannot use an arrest record at all. Only convictions may be used to deny an application and only those convictions that occurred within five years of the application, with exceptions for convictions involving murder, stalking, methamphetamines and offenses that require registration on the sex offender registry. 

Do you have to rent to a qualified applicant?

While no law forces a landlord to accept a specific tenant, Colorado enforces the Fair Housing Act, which protects consumers against rental discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. Transgender is a specifically protected class in the state, which extends Fair Housing legislation to include this additional class. To avoid violating the terms of the FHA, landlords may wish to approve all applications that meet pre-determined criteria.

Do I need a reason to say no?

A landlord or property management company in Colorado must provide rental applicants written notice if their application is denied, according to HB19-1106. The notice must contain a reason for the denial. 

Security Deposit Laws

Are additional move-in fees allowed?

Colorado does not allow landlords to charge any non-refundable fees at lease origination. Any additional move-in fees must be associated with a reasonable and expected expense, like a security deposit or application fee.

Is there a limit on the amount of a security deposit?

Colorado statutes 38-12-101 through 104 place no restriction on the amount a landlord can charge as a security deposit. However, a security deposit is refundable in full at the end of the lease term. Most landlords charge the equivalent of one month’s rent, barring other risk factors that may call for an increased deposit. 

Does the landlord have to hold the security deposit in a separate account or pay interest?

Landlords can handle the security deposit in any way they choose. While some landlords may choose to have a separate account for the security deposit, it is not required. No interest must be paid to the tenant on security deposit funds. 

How long does the landlord have to return the security deposit?

In general, landlords are expected to return applicable security deposit funds within 30 days of the termination of a lease agreement. If the lease specifically extends that time frame, landlords can have up to 60 days to send either the full security deposit or an itemized list of deductions and the balance. In an emergency situation that requires the early termination of the lease such as a gas leak or other damage to the property rendering it inhabitable, landlords have 72 hours to return the security deposit, excluding weekends and holidays. 

What are the reasons why a landlord can withhold part or all of the security deposit?

A landlord may keep part or all of a security deposit to cover debts like unpaid rent, cleaning fees covered under the lease, damage to the unit in excess of normal wear and tear and any other lease violation that causes financial damage to the landlord. The landlord must provide a detailed invoice for all retained monies and fees. 

What is the penalty if the landlord doesn’t return the security deposit?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit within the legally required timeframes, the landlord loses all rights to the money and must immediately return the full amount. A tenant may send a Seven-Day Demand Letter, detailing the amount owed or any disputed withholdings. The landlord then has seven days from the receipt of the letter to pay the amount. Failure to return the security deposit allows former tenants to sue for up to three times the value of the deposit and any associated court costs. 

Laws About Leases and Lease Termination

What types of lease terms are allowed? 

Colorado law recognizes both term and month-to-month leases. There are no specific limits on the duration of a term lease. A term lease may be for a very short period of time or extend for several years. When a lease expires, a tenant may move to a month-to-month tenancy with the permission of the landlord. 

What happens if the tenant violates the lease?

When a tenant fails to meet all the terms of the lease — makes late payments, damages the property or violates an occupancy clause, for example — the landlord may pursue eviction. The first step in an eviction is the posting of a three-day notice. Tenants have three days to remedy the lease violation prior to any further action. 

How much notice is required for month-to-month lease termination?

Unless otherwise extended in the lease agreement, notifications of termination must be delivered at least 10 days before the end of the rental month (C.R.S. § 13-40-107). 

When can a tenant terminate a term lease without penalty?

A tenant can terminate a lease early if the landlord agrees to the termination. At the end of the lease term, a tenant may also provide written confirmation of their intent to move and vacate the property, thus ending the lease. Colorado law does not require any notice period for ending a lease at the end of the term, but an individual lease may have notification requirements. A tenant may also end a lease with no penalty if the landlord fails to maintain the unit in accordance with habitability requirements provided by statutes 38-12-501 through 511.

How much notice do service members have to supply before terminating the lease?

Federal law allows active service members to terminate a lease with no penalty if:

  • They notify the landlord in writing and include a letter from their commanding officer or a copy of their orders
  • Deployed at least 50 miles away from their current rental unit
  • Deployed for at least 90 days

Are there special lease termination rules for victims of domestic violence?

Yes, according to C.R.S. §38-12-402 a tenant may terminate their lease without penalty if they provide a landlord with proof of domestic abuse such as a copy of a police report or protection order. 

How and when can a landlord evict a tenant?

A landlord may evict a tenant for any lease violation after providing a three-day notice and going through the court process to evict. No self-help evictions are allowed, including lockouts or direct confrontations. C.R.S. §13-40-101 through 123 provides guidance on the eviction process.

How much notice does a landlord have to give before making changes to the property that result in the termination of tenancy?

While there are no specific rules dealing with notifications surrounding material changes to the property, a landlord or property manager must typically meet standard notification requirements and wait until the end of the lease term.  

Laws About Rent and Late Fees

When can a landlord increase rent?

A landlord can increase the rent at the end of the existing lease term. Notification requirements are similar to those governing renewals, meaning a landlord must provide notice that the rent will increase according to the terms set out in the original lease.

Is there a maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants?

Colorado has no rent control laws and does not limit the amount that a landlord or property management company may charge for a unit.

Is there a state-mandated grace period that landlords must give tenants before charging a late fee?

No, there is no legally mandated grace period.

Is there a limit on how much of a late fee the landlord can charge tenants?

While there are no legal limits on the amount of a late fee, it must be spelled out in the lease agreement. 

Legally Required Disclosures

What types of disclosures are landlords required to supply regarding ownership of the property?


Can the owner designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures?

Yes, a property owner can work with a property management company, as long as the company is licensed for real estate transactions.

What disclosures related to mold are landlords required to supply?

None, though local or federal laws may apply.

What disclosures related to lead paint are landlords required to supply?

Federal law requires the disclosure of lead paint used in a residential home, though Colorado has no special rules in place surrounding lead. 

Laws About Landlord Responsibilities

How much notice does the landlord have to supply before entry?

There is no specific minimum amount of time, though a landlord’s right to entry should be part of the lease agreement. When no notice is required, a landlord may not have the right of entry and may need to obtain permission before entering the property. Refusal to allow entry may mean tenants are assuming liability for all repairs, even those typically the responsibility of the landlord.

When can the tenant refuse to allow the landlord entry?

If there is no entry clause in the lease or if the landlord violates the notification requirement and there is no emergency that requires immediate access, a tenant can deny entry to the unit. 

What steps must the landlord take to keep the property habitable?

According to Colorado statutes §§38-12-501 through 511, the property must have a waterproof roof, unbroken windows and doors, working plumbing and gas fixtures, running water, reasonable amounts of hot water, working heat, electric lighting, clean and (reasonably) vermin-free common areas, well-maintained floors, stairways and railings, and locks on exterior doors and windows. The landlord must also provide an adequate number of trashcans/dumpsters in good repair with regular removal.  

What amenities must the landlord supply and maintain?

The landlord or property management company must ensure adequate hot water, provide plenty of garbage receptacles and meet any local ordinances surrounding parking availability. 

What utilities must the landlord supply and maintain?

The landlord must supply access to running water. 

Does the landlord have to supply a certificate of inspection?


Is the landlord required to supply locks and keys?

No, the landlord is not required to supply locks and keys, and tenants may wish to supply their own since the landlord is also not required to change the locks when changing tenants. 

Are retaliatory actions prohibited?

Yes. Some examples of actions that might fall under retaliation might include large rent increases, harassment or slow-down handling maintenance requests.

Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

What type of maintenance is the landlord responsible for?

Landlords are responsible for maintaining a habitable property. Colorado statutes §§38-12-501 through 511 detail the requirements and remedies. Local building codes may also have specific requirements, like in the City of Longmont which requires habitable rooms to have windows that are a minimum of 8% of the square foot measurement of the room.

How long does the landlord have to make repairs?

There are no set limits on when a landlord must make repairs, but tenants may break a lease agreement if repairs take too long. 

Is the landlord responsible to fix damage caused by tenants?

Landlords are responsible for normal wear and tear on a unit. If the damage caused by a tenant can be considered normal wear and tear, a landlord must pay for the repairs. 

When does a landlord have to return and/or lower rent due to diminished rental value?

There is no legal requirement to lower rent for diminished rental value.

When can a tenant request an official inspection to determine substandard or dangerous living conditions?

A tenant can request an inspection at any time.

Under what circumstances can a tenant make a repair and deduct the cost from the rent paid to the landlord?

If a tenant has provided written notice of the need for repairs at least 10-days in advance, the tenant can proceed with the repairs and deduct the cost from the monthly rent. There are limits on how much a tenant can spend per month and per year, and repairs must be the landlord’s responsibility.

When is a landlord required to pay for relocation assistance?

There is no mention of relocation assistance in Colorado law, but federal or state laws may apply.

Name Phone Number Description
Landlord and Tenants Rights N/A This handbook is provided by Colorado to help landlords and tenants understand their rights and obligations when renting residential property.
Colorado Housing Connects (844) 926-6632 Provides access to HUD-approved housing counselors to answer questions about renting in Colorado and landlord responsibilities.
Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (800) 877-2432 Provides resources and financial assistance for homeowners and renters, along with tax credits and investor help for those interested in developing affordable housing communities. 

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.