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May 3, 2024

JOINT RELEASE: SIGNED! Safe Housing for Residential Tenants Bill Becomes Law

Legislation aims to improve accountability under current law

DENVER, CO – Governor Polis today signed into law legislation that updates existing law to ensure tenants have access to safe housing and timely repairs when unsafe conditions arise. 

Colorado’s “warranty of habitability” law requires landlords to maintain a minimum standard of housing – however, in practice most renters suffering from unsafe living conditions haven’t received the repairs they need due to easily-exploited loopholes in the law. SB24-094, sponsored by Senators Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Tony Exum, Sr., D-Colorado Springs, and Representatives Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora, and Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, updates existing law to ensure tenants have access to safe housing and timely repairs when unsafe conditions arise.

“We have a Warranty of Habitability standard in Colorado to make sure our communities are living in safe housing, but unfortunately the law is not working as intended,” said Gonzales. “I hear from constituents suffering from unsafe conditions who are not able to get the issue fixed and don’t have access to any other relief- everything from infestations, no heating or cooling for extended periods of time, and fear and intimidation tactics that prevent tenants from taking action. It is beyond time for us to update and clarify the statute, and I’m thankful to see this bill get signed into law today.”

“Every renter deserves for their home to be a safe place to live, yet loopholes in our tenant laws have left Coloradans in dangerous living situations,” said Lindsay. “These unsafe living situations negatively impact the health and safety of renters, and our current laws fail to hold landlords accountable for providing necessary repairs. With our new law, we’re clarifying our Warranty of Habitability laws to protect Colorado renters and ensure their right to safe and healthy housing.”

“Loopholes in existing law are keeping Coloradans in unsafe living conditions, such as homes with mold, sewage leaks, or rodent infestations,” Exum said. “It’s time for Colorado to update these standards so tenants can have secure housing that is better suited to live, work, or raise a family.”

“From broken elevators to no access to running water, Colorado renters have struggled with ongoing maintenance issues that make it difficult for families, elders, and Coloradans with a disability to live their day-to-day lives,” said Froelich. “No one should be forced to deal with these living situations. Our law will ensure that renters have the right to timely repairs for mold, vermin, sewage leaks, and other serious issues to avoid preventable housing-related health conditions.”

SB24-094 modifies existing warranty of habitability laws by:

  • Closing the timeframe loophole by setting deadlines for a landlord to complete necessary repairs: 14 days for many issues and seven days for more serious conditions that deal with life, safety, or health.

  • Ensuring that notice of health or safety issues can be given to the landlord in many forms and clarifying that if a lease allows verbal notice, landlords are legally responsible for taking appropriate action once the verbal notice is given.

  • Clarifying the process for arranging alternative lodging pending the completion of a necessary repair.

  • Updating policies that allow for appropriate cooling in extreme heat, like ensuring landlords fix cooling units when they break, and allowing tenants to install their own cooling devices.

  • Clarifying the current process by which a tenant may pursue a court order demanding compliance with the law or otherwise seek monetary damages.

  • Additional changes include updating the civil process initiated by landlords or tenants regarding breaches, prohibiting landlords from retaliating against tenants, and provisions focused on children, older adults, and those with disabilities.

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