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August 22, 2023

4 New Laws Colorado Landlords Need to Know About

Did you know that there are 4 new laws that all landlords must abide by?  If you’re self-managing your properties there is a good chance you’re internally saying “What is this guy talking about?”  Don’t worry, this post will help get you up to speed!

As a property management company, one of our responsibilities is keeping up with new legislation and making sure our owners’ properties are in compliance. We’re on top of these 4 new laws that just went into effect, and we’ve adjusted our processes and practices to be in compliance with these new laws for our owners.

If you’re managing your own properties, you may want to take a look and make sure you’re also in compliance with all these new laws.  (Or call us… we’ll take these and all your other landlord headaches off your plate!  Which reminds me… don’t forget to get your Denver Rental License before 1/1/24. This post on the Denver Rental License we just did can help with that issue).  Here is our pricing and services page so you can see what we do. Or you can set up a quick phone chat with me at a time that works well for you.)

Below we want to share with you highlights from all 4 of these most pertinent new bills for informational purposes, just so you’re aware. We are not attorneys so don’t consider this legal advice or any type of complete review of these bills. We’ve given you links to all 4 bills below so you can dive in on your own. 

We do feel that legislation such as this will continue and we’ll be continually refining our process to be in compliance.

Please feel free to share this update with any landlords you know that may not be aware of these bills.

Ok let’s discuss these 4 bills.

Senate Bill 23-184: Protections for Residential Tenants

This bill is designed to protect residential tenants by prohibiting landlords from considering certain information relating to a prospective tenant’s income or rental history, establishing a maximum amount that a landlord can require as a security deposit and allowing a tenant to assert as an affirmative defense in an eviction proceeding that a landlord violated anti-discriminatory housing laws.  

  • The biggest change of note is that landlords cannot require a tenant to have an annual amount of income that exceeds 2 times the annual cost of rent. (The previous limit was 3 times.) We have adjusted our policy to be compliant.  I suspect that many self-managing landlords will not be aware of this limitation and will possibly get themselves in hot water.  This is a big change and has a direct impact on landlord’s ability to be selective in their application criteria. 

House Bill 23-1099 Portable Screening

This bill is designed to reduce the cost burden that comes with renters applying to multiple residences at once by requiring a landlord to accept from a prospective tenant a portable tenant screening report.  We have updated our process to reflect this change and if a tenant has a portable screening report (which is a report showing their credit score, etc) that can be provided to us directly from a credit reporting agency we will use it and not charge them for screening.  

I like the intention behind this law, as I do think that many property management companies and landlords accept multiple applications, only accept one and then pocket all the remaining application fees without even running their applications.  That is completely unfair.  But as is common with legislation, there are some issues.  For example, we don’t know that credit screening agencies have a process for providing us as the management company access to the tenant’s report.  So how will this work mechanically in the market right now?  TBD. It’s going to take some time to work out the kinks.

  • Reminder: Focus conducts extensive screening of all residents including employment verification, income verification, credit score review, background check, criminal check, eviction check and a rental reference review. 

House Bill 23-1068: Pet Animal Ownership in Housing

This bill is designed to establish pet-inclusive housing practices in Colorado by, among other things, limiting security deposits landlords can charge for pets, limiting rent landlords can charge for pets, and prohibiting dog breed restrictions for obtaining insurance.  This one matters a lot because it’s Colorado, and it seems like almost everyone has a pet!  So making sure your pet policies are tight is key as a landlord.

  • A key change is that a pet security deposit is capped at $300 per pet and rent cannot exceed the greater of $35/month or 1.5%/month.  (Focus’ customary pet fee is a $300 per pet additional security deposit and no extra rent charge for tenants with pets. So we’re in compliance.)   
  • Reminder: Focus screens all pets using a 3rd party provider known as Petscreening.com who provides a risk assessment of each pet.  

Senate Bill 23-206: Radon Disclosure in Residential Property

This bill is designed to improve public health outcomes by, among other things, requiring a landlord to provide written disclosures related to radon before signing a residential lease agreement.  One problem with this new law? There is no common Colorado approved form for the radon disclosure.  So for the time being landlords are left to their own devices to figure out how to disclose.  This makes it tough for one-off landlords that don’t have time or money to create attorney prepared documents.

  • We’ve had an attorney-drafted document created and we now have incorporated this into our process with all new applicants now that the law has gone into effect. 
  • Reminder: Focus utilizes an attorney-prepared lease, which we sign on your behalf as part of our service to you, to deliver an efficient leasing process for tenants, and to shield you from potential liability. 

That is a quick overview of each new bill and links to where you can find more information.  If you’re set on self-managing your properties, it can be done.  You’ll just have to stay diligent on the new rules and put in the work to make sure your processes are in compliance.  As we mentioned above, if you decide you need to hit the “easy button” and have your property managed we’d love to help. 

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