Lease Agreement – Time for an Update?

If you are a landlord and have not updated your lease agreement in recent years, it may be time to do so. In the past few years, Colorado has enacted many new laws affecting a landlord’s obligations to its tenants. Following is a brief summary of recent updates to landlord-tenant laws that may affect your current lease agreement(s).

Rent increases and late fees are part of recent modifications to Colorado’s landlord-tenant law. The new changes restrict landlords from increasing rent more than once in a 12-month period. Late fees are a key provision in a lease agreement and must now be disclosed in the lease in order for a landlord to charge a late fee. Under current Colorado law, landlords cannot charge a late fee that exceeds $50 or 5 percent of past due rent per month.  Additionally, a landlord cannot charge a tenant a late fee unless the rental payment is late by at least 7 days. Further, it is prohibited to charge interest on late fees. Finally, a landlord cannot evict a tenant solely for unpaid late fees.

Any lease provision that is in violation of the rules mentioned above will not only be held void and unenforceable but will expose a landlord to litigation in addition to statutory penalties. Specifically, landlords will be automatically charged a $50 penalty per violation. Failing to cure any violation allows a tenant to sue for a penalty ranging from $150 to $1,000 per infraction, plus attorney’s costs and fees, and any other equitable relief the court may find appropriate. In addition, if you proceed with an eviction of a tenant, the tenant will be able to raise any of these lease violations as an affirmative defense in the eviction action. Meaning the landlord will not be able to proceed in their eviction proceeding.

These are just some of the significant changes to landlord-tenant laws in Colorado. It is important for landlords to be sure their current leases are not in breach of any of the new laws. Please reach out to an experienced real estate attorney to review your current lease(s) to ensure compliance with these new laws.