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August 7, 2023

JOINT RELEASE: Laws to Save Renters Money and Strengthen Protections Go Into Effect

Three new laws to cut down on housing costs and strengthen renter protections go into effect August 7

DENVER, CO - On August 7, three laws to strengthen residential renter rights, save Coloradans money on rental applications, and reduce overbearing rental application qualifications to make it easier for lower-income Coloradans to find housing, go into effect.

“Renters shouldn’t be forced to sign away their legal rights just to have a roof over their heads,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, sponsor of HB23-1095. “Our new law now prohibits residential leases from including hidden fees, legal waivers, and other traps that some landlords have used to take advantage of unsuspecting tenants.”

“Too often, Colorado renters unknowingly sign rental agreements that waive important rights, contain legal traps, and tack on hidden fees,” said Senator Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, sponsor of HB23-1095. “HB23-1095 prohibits landlords from sneaking inflated charges or unfair provisions into rental agreements, ensuring Colorado renters aren’t taken advantage of or exploited.”

“Housing insecurity is a very real threat for many Coloradans, leading to people being pressured into signing leases that strip away their rights,” said Rep. Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB23-1095. “Colorado renters are getting a big win with the implementation of our new law that prevents landlords from creating unfriendly leases that infringe on the legal rights of renters.”

“Whether it’s Steamboat Springs or Sedalia, housing is a top concern for Coloradans,” said Senator Faith Winter, D-Westminster, sponsor of HB23-1095. “This year we’re taking bold action to tackle Colorado’s housing crisis from all angles. By preserving the affordable housing stock we already have and strengthening renters’ rights, Coloradans will be better positioned to find housing options that fit their budget and sign rental agreements that preserve their comfort and safety.”

Effective August 7, HB23-1095 prohibits most rental agreements from including:

  • Any waiver of the right to quiet enjoyment of the property

  • Any waiver of the right to a jury trial, unless all parties agree to waive a jury trial in a hearing to determine occupancy,

  • Any waiver of the right to participate in a class action,

  • Penalties or charges if a renter does not provide notice of non-renewal unless the landlord incurred actual losses as a result, or

  • The landlord’s ability to charge renters for both third party services like pest control and valet trash that is in excess of 2% of the actual charge and a monthly administrative fee of $10 to cover these services

Landlords often profit from renters by including inflated third party charges like pest control and valet trash services in administrative fees. Under this law, landlords are prohibited from charging renters more than the actual cost for services, limiting excessive profiting off of tenants. The right to enjoyment protects renters from landlords entering the property without notice and their right to have peace and quiet in their home, as landlords often include clauses that waive these rights. 

Large rental companies often use a class action waiver to protect themselves from lawsuits by preventing renters from collectively pursuing legal action. Individual renters usually can’t afford a legal fight against a large rental company, which allows rental companies to get away with violations.

HB23-1099 builds off the Rental Application Fairness Act that was passed by Colorado Democrats in 2019 by allowing prospective renters to reuse a rental application for up to 30 days without paying additional fees. 

“As a renter, I know how stressful and expensive it can be to have to find new housing,” said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs, sponsor of HB23-1099. “Our new law cuts down on repetitive fees, so that Coloradans who rent their home can make the most of their precious financial resources.”

“Too many Coloradans searching for a rental have found themselves spending hundreds of dollars in unnecessary fees for something they’ve previously paid for,” said Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB23-1099. “Applying to rent a home shouldn’t require redundant, substantial fees and a negative impact on one’s credit. We have to continue to fight rising housing expenses across the board, including application costs, so that every Colorado family can find a place to call home without breaking the bank.”

“When renters face the end of their lease, they often have to spend hundreds of dollars on multiple rental applications just to find housing that keeps them sheltered,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB23-1099. “With this law going into effect soon, Coloradans will be able to reuse their rental application documents, allowing them to save their hard-earned money for rent, groceries, childcare, and other necessary costs while looking for their new home.”

“Our state is in a housing crisis, which is why we’ve been fighting to reduce the many barriers to housing that exist in our state,” said Senator Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, sponsor of HB23-1099. “Paying for a new screening report every time someone applies for a lease is a big financial burden, especially if it’s their fourth, fifth, or sixth application. This new law allows for greater transparency between landlords and prospective tenants while reducing the cost of finding a new place to live.”

HB23-1099 minimizes the number of times a credit score is pulled, protecting a potential renter’s credit score from being continuously damaged from credit score inquiries. Under this law, a landlord must provide a copy of the credit report to a potential tenant to reuse and provide a notice of the applicant’s right to dispute the accuracy of the report. Rental and credit history reports and criminal record documents must come from verified consumer reporting agencies to be eligible for reuse. This law goes into effect on August 7.

SB23-184, which also goes into effect on August 7, expands access to housing by limiting any minimum income requirement to two times the cost of the rent. Because landlords can require prospective tenants to make three to five times as much as their annual rental cost, some hardworking Coloradans like teachers and firefighters are finding it impossible to qualify for housing opportunities with their incomes. It also limits the amount landlords can charge for security deposits to two times the monthly rent. 

“Over the last decade the cost of housing in Colorado has doubled, forcing folks to spend larger shares of their income on rent,” said Senator Winter, sponsor of SB23-184. “Our rental market hasn’t adjusted to these challenging economic realities, and many Coloradans – especially those on limited or fixed incomes – are denied housing or face barriers to obtaining housing because of income requirements. It’s time to put in place sensible guardrails to expand housing access for Coloradans of all income levels.”

“Excessive income and security deposit requirements are making it nearly impossible for many Coloradans to qualify for housing,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, sponsor of SB23-184. “By capping income requirements and setting a limit to security deposit costs, we can create more realistic housing opportunities for hardworking Coloradans that want to stay in their community.”

“Over half of low-income Coloradans spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent,” Senator Exum, sponsor of SB23-184, said. “Burdensome income requirements shut out too many hardworking Coloradans from the market. This new law will help ensure prospective renters aren’t being discriminated against because of their income while improving housing stability across Colorado.”

“Some of our most vulnerable neighbors, like seniors on fixed incomes and those with a disability, have difficulty finding housing because incomes don’t meet overwhelming lease requirements,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, sponsor of SB23-184. “With our new law going into effect soon, more lower-income and fixed-income Coloradans can find housing that works best for them and their family, without unreasonable security deposit and income requirements.”

For prospective tenants with a housing voucher or subsidy, this cap would only apply to their portion of the rent obligation, and landlords wouldn’t be able to inquire about or consider their credit score. Large security deposits can also price renters out of housing they would otherwise be able to afford. This law breaks down cost barriers by capping security deposits at two times the monthly rent.

Although Coloradans who experience housing discrimination can sue or file a civil rights complaint, they’re not able to raise discrimination as an affirmative defense to an eviction. SB23-184 further protects tenants from eviction by establishing that a violation of the law's new prohibitions is an unfair housing practice and clarifying that fair housing violations, including source of income violations, are an affirmative defense to eviction.

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