New Rights for Renters Advance

DENVER, CO– The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee today advanced SB21-173, legislation sponsored by Representatives Serena Gonzales Gutierrez and Yadira Caraveo that would enhance rights for renters in residential lease agreements.

“Coloradans across our state are facing enormous challenges every day to find a place to live or avoid an eviction, which can lead to increased poverty and devastating consequences,” said Rep. Serena Gonzalez Gutierrez, D-Denver. “Unfair late fees, baseless evictions, and punitive fines on renters force people out of their homes and into homlessness. We have a responsibility to build back stronger, and that means making sure that renters in Colorado have basic rights and protections that help them stay in their homes.”

“The pandemic has revealed how unfair and predatory fees have forced renters and mobile home park residents to leave their homes,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton. “There’s no reason a landlord should be able to refuse a late rent payment and instead evict their tenant after just a few days. We can’t allow people to be locked out of their homes without notice or a formal eviction proceeding. These are basic protections and rights that everyone deserves. This bill will stop some of the worst and most predatory tactics that force Coloradans into homelessness, joblessness, and poverty.”

SB21-173 would help keep more Coloradans housed by limiting late fees, prohibiting evictions solely for owing late fees, banning lease clauses that incentivise landlords to evict tenants, and by giving renters more time to pay their rent and avoid eviction.  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. 

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