Colorado eviction bill would create stability for renters

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The bill focuses on rent renewals and would require landlords to renew a lease at the end of the term unless they have a reason not to.

DENVER, Colorado — A Colorado bill that passed the state House and Senate will mean protections for tenants, but critics say it infringes on a landlord’s right to end a contract with a problem tenant without going through the eviction process. 

Last year, advocates tried to pass a similar, more sweeping bill. It failed during the legislative session, and they returned this year with HB 24-1098, a similar bill with amendments and changes. 

“It is incredibly important that we do everything we can to make sure people are allowed to stay in their homes,” said Melissa Mejía, head of state and local policy with the Community Economic Defense Project (CEDP). 

The organization worked both years to draft the legislation. 

The final, revised bill being sent to Democratic Governor Jared Polis’s desk focuses mainly on rent renewals. As it stands today, landlords at the end of a lease term can let the lease expire without reason. The contract ends and in turn, the tenant and landlord can both choose to renew or terminate the lease thereafter. 

The bill, if signed, would require landlords to automatically offer a lease renewal with reasonable terms, unless they have a reason not to. The process for evicting someone in the middle of a lease term by initiating court proceedings will largely stay the same.

Some reasons for not renewing a lease are outlined in the bill. They include home renovation that would require no occupants, substantial repairs, occupancy assumed by landlord or other family member, or withdrawal of the unit from the rental market. 

“Those are usually no-fault reasons, which means that the tenant hasn’t done anything wrong, but that the landlord has decided to do something else with the property,” Mejía said. “Really, for us, this is super important to make sure that we are not displacing people and displacing families if there is not really a good reason to do so.” 

Mejía says lawyers with the CEDP regularly see people whose leases are not renewed due to bias and discrimination. This bill, advocates say, would put a stop to that and leave more individuals and families in their homes. 

“So, a lot of the unnecessary displacement that we see — retaliation, discrimination — that you are not allowed to do when you are deciding to lease to someone is currently allowable under law at the point of non-renewal because there are no standards whatsoever,” Mejía said. 

Critics of the bill call it “unnecessary,” saying it infringes on a landlord’s right to contract with whoever they’d like. Critics also say much of the bill is already covered under the Fair Housing Act. 

“We believe in the right to contract,” said Destiny Bossert, government affairs manager for the Colorado Apartment Association. “Those are individual rights that are being infringed upon every time the government comes in and mandates that you are to be in a contract with someone else. So, I think that is an overreach.” 

Bossert worries bills that create more regulations and demands for landlords will ultimately lead to less people wanting to rent out properties, particularly for those with smaller portfolios or just one or two units. 

“We want Colorado to have a lot of housing options and have investors to come to the state. So, anything that could harm that or impact that is maybe a loss to Colorado,” Bossert said. 

Critics also fear the bill will have unintended consequences, like increasing evictions instead of limiting them. 

“Instead of just terminating a contract and both parties can be free to go their own way, now you are having to evict them. It’s going on their record. So, it’s very unfortunate for both parties,” Bossert said. 

Advocates say they have no reason to believe Polis will veto the bill, but it still hasn’t been signed. 

““The Governor appreciates the good discussions that occurred between the sponsors, stakeholders and our office. The Governor looks forward to reviewing the final version of the bill,” a spokesperson from his team said.

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Colorado eviction bill would create stability for renters

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