A Colorado Tenant’s Guide to COVID-19
(Last updated: April 5, 2020, 10:30 PM)
A Colorado Tenant’s Guide to COVID-19
COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our state economy. Tens of thousands of Coloradoans have lost their jobs since early March with additional lay-offs and furloughs expected in the weeks and months ahead. The economic shutdown has caused many in our community to fall behind on bills and rent, generating considerable anxiety.
This guide is designed to help tenants navigate conversations with their landlords, respond to eviction proceedings, and seek out support in this challenging time. We are updating this document constantly, so please check back as the situation on the ground changes. Please note: this guide does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
This guide uses some legal and other terms that may be confusing. This link provides some definitions of words we’ve used throughout the guide.
What happens if I can’t pay my rent?
First and foremost, you should know that you are not the only one! Because of COVID-19, many Americans will struggle to pay rent in the months ahead. This problem will likely continue until the virus passes and people can return to work.
If you cannot pay your rent, there are several things you should know:
The CARES Act also includes a federally mandated eviction moratorium that halts new evictions for certain rental properties in Colorado through June 25, 2020, as well as the charging of late fees. The covered rental property types include most federally assisted rental housing programs, low income tax credit housing, and housing with federally backed loans. For more information, please see this summary prepared by the National Housing Law Project.
What should I say to my landlord?
You should let your landlord know that you’re unable to pay your monthly rent due to the negative effects of COVID-19 as soon as possible. It is important to do this in writing and by email (if possible) in this time of social distancing (though sending a certified letter also works well). Attached at the end of this document is some draft letter/email language when contacting your landlord about payment issues.
Should I pay partial rent or try to strike a deal with my landlord?
Many landlords across the state are offering tenants payment agreements in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The terms of these agreements can be very different from each other and may or may not be good for tenants. Some questions to ask yourself if your landlord offers a payment agreement include:
If the answer to any of the questions above is yes, it may raise a red-flag about the fairness of the rental agreement. Before signing an agreement, please contact our team at email@example.com to get connected with a volunteer attorney who can review the document your landlord has provided. Colorado Legal Services is also a fantastic resource if you’re trying to understand a payment agreement, negotiate with your landlord, or respond to a legal document sent by your landlord. They have offices across Colorado that can be reached at the numbers listed on this website. The numbers for different Colorado Legal Services offices are also listed at the end of this document.
What can my landlord do if I don’t pay my rent?
If you do not pay rent, your landlord may do several things, including asking you to pay, posting a notice to vacate or a demand for possession on your door, and offering payment agreements and other compromises.
Your landlord cannot deny you access to the premises, cut off utilities, engage in harassing behavior, evict you, or break the terms of your lease agreement.
What will happen when eviction moratoria in place today expire or go away?
It’s not 100% clear. Presumably, when eviction bans are lifted, landlords will be able to pursue eviction cases in court and also sue tenants for unpaid rent. Right now, there are no rules or regulations that prevent this from happening. There are some proposals that respond to these challenges, but none have been acted upon.
How can I get help to pay my rent?
There are a number of resources available and the list is growing daily. Options include:
How do I get more information about this document?
This document was prepared by Zach Neumann at the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (a project of The Community Firm) with critical input and feedback from Jack Regenbogen at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Jason Legg from 9to5 Colorado, and Jennie Rodgers from Enterprise Community Partners. Please contact Zach Neumann at 720-325-6558 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for further questions. Comments, feedback, and edits are welcome as we will keep this document up to date over the next several months as the COVID-19 crisis runs its course.
LANDLORD LETTER DRAFT TEXT
Dear [Insert Landlord or Company Name]-
I am writing in regards to my tenancy at [Insert address]. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, I am unable to make my rental payment for the month of [insert month] on [rental due date]. This is due to [select reason: being ill and unable to work / being laid-off from my work / being furloughed at work / facing reduced work hours / other ].
I hope to be able to make payments in the future. If you would like to discuss this more, please feel free to reach out.
CLS offices and counties served by each office are listed below. Translators are available.
Alamosa (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache)
603 Main St., Alamosa 81101
Walk-In Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30 p.m., closed noon-1 p.m. for lunch
315 West South Boulder Road, Suite 205, Louisville 80027
Walk-In Hours: Monday-Friday 8-Noon and 1-5 p.m., closed Noon to 1 for lunch.
Colorado Springs (El Paso, Lincoln, Teller, Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Park county shared)
617 South Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs 80903
Craig (Grand, Jackson, Mofffat, Rio Blanco and Routt)
50 College Drive, #111, Craig 81626 (call before visiting)
Denver (Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Jefferson all ages; for Clear Creek & Gilpin seniors 60+ only)
1905 Sherman Street, Suite 400, Denver 80203
Walk-In Hours: Daily Monday-Friday 8:30-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m.; ID Wednesdays 8:30-11 a.m.
Dillon (Clear Creek, Eagle, Gunnison, Lake, Pitkin and Summit)
P.O. Box 1895 Dillon, CO 80435
Durango (Archuleta, Dolores, Hinsdale, La Plata, Montezuma, Ouray, San Juan, San Miguel, Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute reservations)
835 East 2nd Avenue, #300, Durango 81301
Ft. Collins (Larimer, Logan, Phillips, Sedgwick)
211 West Magnolia Street, Ft. Collins 80521
Walk-In Hours: Mon-Fridays 8:30-Noon, 1-4:30 p.m.; ID project only - Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.
Grand Junction (Delta, Garfield, Mesa, Montrose)
422 White Avenue, Suite 300, Grand Junction 81501
Greeley (Morgan, Washington, Weld, Yuma)
912 8th Avenue, Greeley 80631
La Junta (Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers)
10 West 3rd Street, La Junta 81050
Migrant Farmworker Division (all counties)
1905 Sherman Street, Suite 400, Denver 80203
Pueblo (Pueblo, Custer, Fremont shared w/ other offices)
1000 West 6th Street, Pueblo 81003
Salida (Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Park county shared)
1604 H Street, Suite 201, Salida, 81201
Definition of Terms Used in the Guide:
Moratoria: a temporary ban of an activity
Executing eviction procedures: the eviction process is made up of a number of steps or procedures. These procedures include providing official notice that an eviction has been filed, a court hearing and decision, and can include a sheriff removing someone from their home. While the moratoria is in place these steps will not happen.
Federally assisted housing programs, low income housing tax credit housing and housing with Federally backed loans: these are the most common types of affordable housing
Subject to change: this information was published on 4/1/20. State and local authorities may change it any time and likely will make changes as we know more about the effects of Covid-19
Your landlord will seek payments under the terms of your rental agreement: You have a written or verbal lease with your landlord and your agreement includes an amount you pay for your housing. You still owe this money to your landlord.
Exempt: not include
Amicable: agreeable or friendly. An agreement that both you and your landlord can accept.
In writing: you should have a copy of the conversation in case you ever need to prove it happened. This could be a copy of an email. A screen shot of a text could be ok too.
Certified letter: when you send someone a certified letter you get a receipt that proves you sent it. You can also require that the person you send the letter to signs to receive the letter. This gives you proof that they received it.
Deferred: put off to a later date. If rent is deferred you will not have to pay right now but you will have to pay it some time in the future.
Waive other rights: give up other rights
Order for possession from the courts: final step in the eviction process that requires a tenant to move out of the house or apartment
Various moratoria are lifted: eviction bans are in place today but they have end dates. After the end date it will be lifted and your landlord will be able to evict you.
Sole-proprietor: a business owner who doesn’t have any employees