Published in the February 28, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.
COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?
Update on bills in the Colorado Legislature
by Amy Reinholds
Here are a few updates about bills in our state legislative session this year that could give Colorado renters some support for issues around application fees, evictions, and habitability. Upcoming bills might be introduced this session that deal with funding affordable housing in the state, but for now there are at least three that deal with tenant and landlord relationships.
Bills are constantly changing as they go through hearings before committees in the state house and senate. For the most up-to-date information, see the links to leg.colorado.gov for each bill.
Rental application fees for prospective tenants: House Bill 19-1106
HB19-1106, sponsored by Representative Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D-Denver), and Senator Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), addresses possible high costs when tenants are searching for places to rent and paying application fees.
The bill passed the House on Feb. 21, and was introduced in the Senate on Feb. 25 and assigned to the Local Government committee.
The bill states that landlords can charge prospective tenants rental application fees only if they use the entire amount of the fee to cover their costs in processing the rental application. Landlords must provide a disclosure of their anticipated expenses or a receipt that itemizes the expenses that the application fee covers. According to the bill, a landlord also may not charge a prospective tenant a rental application fee that is in a different amount than a rental application fee charged to another prospective tenant who applies to rent the same dwelling unit (or any other dwelling unit offered by the landlord, if the landlord offers more than one unit for rent).
It also states that the landlord cannot search rental history or credit history beyond the seven prior years of the date of the application. And, if a landlord uses a criminal history check, an arrest record cannot be considered from more than five years before the application date, except for arrests related to methamphetamine or felony offenses that required registering as sex offenders. Landlords who deny a rental application must provide the applicant a notice of denial that states the reason, making a good-faith effort at least 20 days after making the decision.
Language was introduced in the House that says a person who intends to file an action “shall make a good-faith effort to notify the landlord of such intention not less than seven days before filing the action,” and a landlord “who corrects or cures a violation not more than seven days after receiving notice is immune from liability for the violation.”
The Colorado House Democrats website has pointed out that more than a dozen states have enacted policies that set terms for the collection and retention of rental application fees.
You can read more about the bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1106.
More time for a tenant to cure a lease violation that is not a substantial violation: House Bill 19-1118
HB19-1118, sponsored by Representative Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), Representative Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) and Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver), requires a landlord or property manager to provide a tenant 14-days notice (instead of the 3-day notice in current state law), to cure a violation for unpaid rent or for the first violation of any other condition or covenant of a lease agreement, other than a substantial violation, before the landlord can terminate the lease and initiate eviction proceedings.
Current law requires a landlord to provide a tenant 3 days to cure a violation for unpaid rent or any other condition or covenant of a lease agreement, other than a substantial violation, before the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings based on that unpaid rent or other violation. Current law also requires 3 days notice prior to a tenancy being terminated for a subsequent violation of a condition or covenant of a lease agreement.
The hearing for the bill was just switched to the Transportation and Local Government committee, scheduled for Feb. 27, according to staff for Representative Galindo.
You can read more about the bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1118.
The Colorado Association of Realtors had a concern with the original text of the bill, as it reported in its Capitol Connection online newsletter on Jan. 25. However, Elizabeth Peetz, VP of Government Affairs for the Colorado Association of Realtors, said this week that the Association now has a neutral stance on the bill, based on some of the potentially offered amendments. “All the stakeholders are still working on the legislation, and there may or may not be some changes in the committee,” she said.
Tenants health and safety act: House Bill 19-1170
HB19-1170, sponsored by Representative Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), Representative Mike Weissman (D-Aurora), Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver), and Senator Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village), aims to increase tenant protections relating to the residential warranty of habitability.
Current law allows landlords “a reasonable time” after receiving a written notice to fix the problems that make a residential premise uninhabitable, materially dangerous, or hazardous. This bill proposes allowing either electronic or written notice, and gives the landlords 24 hours to fix the conditions that are “materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant’s life, health, or safety” or 72 hours to fix conditions “where the premises is uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation.” The landlord breaches the warranty if these fixes are not made.
The bill also adds additional conditions that make a residential premises “uninhabitable,” and includes language about landlords retaliating against tenants who make complaints about habitability.
It passed the House Second Reading with amendments on Feb. 25.
You can read more about this bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1170.
This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.