A lease is a written rental agreement between a tenant and a landlord, and is designed to protect both parties. Although they can cover any period of time, they typically cover periods of six or 12 months. In Colorado, your lease might cover issues concerning security deposits, maximum occupancies, rent amounts, late penalty fees, rent due dates, trash removal, yard care, utility responsibilities, repair responsibilities, rules about pets and information about subleasing.
In order to be valid in Colorado, a lease must be signed by the landlord and the tenant. Read through your lease carefully; if there is anything in it that is unclear or that concerns you, do not sign it. Otherwise, you will be bound by law to adhere to those terms. If any changes or amendments are made, make sure that they are done in writing; oral agreements are not usually valid in court.
In Colorado, most landlords require security deposits from their tenants. Security deposits are also known as cleaning deposits or damage deposits and are payments made by tenants to landlords. They are used to cover the cost of repairs that must be made because of damage during a tenancy or for cleaning a rental unit.
As a renter, it is important to know that a landlord can keep all or part of your security deposit to cover damages caused by your intentional abuse or negligence. She can also keep all or part of your security deposit for cleaning that needs to be done beyond normal wear and tear. If damages exceed the amount of security deposit that was collected, a landlord can take you to small claims court.
A landlord usually has 30 days to return your security deposit to you after you move out; this time period may differ depending on the lease agreement. Otherwise, your landlord must send a detailed list of damages to your last known address. If your deposit is wrongly withheld, you could receive a judgment for up to three times the amount plus attorney's fees and court costs; you can pursue this action in small claims court if necessary.
Moving In and Moving Out
Upon moving in and beginning your lease, create a file for storing important lease-related documents such as the lease itself, the receipt for your security deposit, monthly rent receipts and other important items. Conduct an inspection of the unit and make a list of existing damages when you first move in; have your landlord look it over and sign it. This list can be used at the end of your tenancy, in the event of disputes concerning the condition of the unit. You may want to have an impartial witness present when conducting your inspection.
An inspection should be carried out by yourself and your landlord just before moving out. Both of you should sign a written statement about the condition of the rental unit at that time.
The best way to protect your rights as a renter in Colorado is by signing a lease, because the amount of the rent is locked in for its duration. If no lease exists, your landlord can increase your rent by giving written notice as follows: 10 days' written notice before rent is due if it is paid monthly; three days' written notice before rent is due if it is paid on a weekly or semi-monthly basis.
In order to legally evict a tenant in Colorado, a landlord must go through the legal eviction process in county court. There are three reasons that a landlord may evict a tenant in Colorado: failure to pay rent on time, breaking the terms of the lease or for no reason, if the landlord wants to evict at the end of the lease.
If eviction proceedings are started against you and you fail to answer or appear, you will have 48 hours to vacant the premises. However, if your landlord decides to evict you at the end of your lease, he must give you a notice to vacate. If you've been renting for a year or more, you are allowed three months to vacate. If you've been renting for six months to one year, you are allowed one month to vacate. If you've been renting for one to six months, you are allowed three days to vacate. If you've been renting for less than one week, you are allowed one day to vacate.
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