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Colorado House advances eviction bill that could alter traditional landlord-tenant relationship

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Sara Wilson

(Colorado Newsline) The Colorado House of Representatives gave preliminary approval on Friday to a bill that would require landlords to have a reason to evict a tenant or deny them a lease renewal.

House Bill 24-1098 lays out specific causes for legal eviction and no-fault lease terminations, including non-payment from the tenant, lease violations, substantial renovations to the property or plans to sell the building. It is the second year that Democratic lawmakers are pursuing the legislation, though this year’s version is more narrow and is not as restrictive towards landlords.

Still, it would be a revision of the traditional landlord-tenant relationship as Denver and Colorado in general see soaring eviction rates.

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“Right now, Colorado landlords can evict their tenants for any reason or for no reason at all, even if the tenant has paid their rent and done nothing wrong. No laws exist to protect from no-cause evictions,” bill sponsor Rep. Javier Mabrey, a Denver Democrat, said on the House floor Friday morning.

Mabrey is running the bill in the House with Majority Leader Monica Duran, a Wheat Ridge Democrat, who shared her own emotional testimony during a committee hearing and on the House floor Friday about her eviction experience, which forced her and her son to move into their car.

“I want tenants facing the same thing to know that I am sponsoring this bill because we as a state can do better,” she said. “Both Rep. Mabrey and myself feel that this is a necessary step towards protecting the sense of stability and community that our working families and renters deserve in Colorado.”

Amendments to original bill

The bill was significantly amended in the House Transportation, Housing and Local Government Committee to meet concerns from stakeholders and the governor’s office. It passed committee on a 7-4 vote, with Democratic Rep. Alex Valdez of Denver joining Republicans in opposition.

Those committee amendments struck the requirement for landlords to provide financial support to outgoing tenants in some circumstances, shortened the notice period for landlords who are selling their property, laid out a 90-day non-renewal process for tenants who do not accept a longer-term lease, and exempted landlords who live adjacent to their rental property, among others.

This is a necessary step towards protecting the sense of stability and community that our working families and renters deserve in Colorado.

– Colorado House Majority Leader Monica Duran

Another amendment adds another cause for eviction, allowing it if a tenant is interfering with the “quiet enjoyment” of the landlord or other tenants on the property or causing negligent property damage.

“This is something that we kept hearing over and over again during testimony. We heard from landlords saying that if this passes, (they) won’t be able to evict that guy who is screaming and that is causing a disturbance,” Mabrey said during committee. “This is explicitly in here.”

Additionally, a landlord would be able to not renew a tenant who had at least two late rental payments — defined as 10 days after the due date — within the lease period.

Another amendment clarifies that the law, if enacted, would not apply to mobile homes or workforce housing. The law would only apply to tenants known by the landlord who have lived in their unit for at least nine months.

“Our Keep Coloradans Housed Coalition believes that the amended bill will go a long way to better protect tenants and stabilize them in their homes. We will do everything we can to advocate for the state legislature to pass this bill because every Coloradan deserves access to a safe and stable home,” Carmen Medrano, the executive director of United for a New Economy, wrote in an email.

Republicans offered amendments on the House floor that would have capped attorney fees in eviction court proceedings. The two amendments with that aim failed.

The House passed the bill with a voice vote on second reading Friday. It still needs to be formally passed on third reading, when members cast a recorded vote. The chamber will likely take it up for that vote next week.

The bill would then be taken up by the Senate. Democrats enjoy majorities in both chambers.

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