Bill aims to protect renters from discriminatory and unfair practices
DENVER, CO– The House today advanced SB21-173, legislation sponsored by Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Yadira Caraveo that would enhance rights for renters in residential lease agreements. The bill passed on Second Reading.
“Far too many renters and mobile home park residents across Colorado are under constant threat of losing their homes due to late fees and unfair eviction processes,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “Under current practice, families can be locked out of their homes without a formal eviction proceeding and landlords can reject a late rent payment and move to evict after just a couple of days. Colorado’s renters need us to act.”
“Colorado’s renters were already facing significant challenges before the COVID-19 pandemic left them even more vulnerable,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton. “The bill we advanced today will do away with certain practices like unfair late fees, baseless evictions and punitive fines on renters that can result in families being forced into homelessness. It’s time we ensure that Colorado families can keep a roof over their heads.”
SB21-173 would help keep more Coloradans housed by limiting late fees, prohibiting evictions solely for owing late fees, banning unreasonable lease clauses and by giving renters more time to pay their rent and avoid eviction. The bill allows tenants a seven day grace period before a landlord can impose a late fee. It also requires landlords to accept late rent payments at any time until a court has ordered an eviction. It also bolsters procedures and remedies in cases of an alleged breach of warranty of habitability.
With regards to late fees, the bill prohibits late fees unless the rent payment is late by at least seven days. A late fee may not exceed $50 or five percent of the amount of the rent that remains past due. Landlords may not assess late fees unless the fee is disclosed in the rental agreement. It would also prohibit landlords from evicting a tenant solely for failure to pay a late fee. Furthermore, it would protect renters from being charged late fees for the rent that subsidy provider, such as a rental assistance program, is responsible for paying. Finally, it would prohibit landlords from charging interest on late payments. A landlord who commits a violation would have to pay a $50 penalty to the tenant for each violation and may also be liable for compensatory damages for injury or loss suffered.