Q: I want to evict my roommate who is on month to month rent. He’s consistantly late on rent. Where do I start?
Hi, my name’s Andrew. I live down in Colorado Springs. I am renting a house through my uncle who lives out of state. I have a 1 year lease through him. He charges rent each month, due in the first and then I have friends that live in this house with me, so we split rent equally 4 ways, due on the first still. My uncle has a lease for me, signed by me, for renting out his place. I am the only one on the lease. As long as he gets the rent then he doesn’t mind if 1 person lives here, or 5. So none of my friends/roommates are on the lease with me. As I understand they are month to month agreement. One of my roommates is not paying rent on time, he likes to pay 3-5 days late without notice, sometimes a month lateand doesn’t respond to any forms of contact. He has paid late for 13 months out of the 18 months he’s lived with me. I’m just looking for what rights either my uncle or myself has to evict him, give him notice, or give him papers to leave. He doesn’t take this seriously.
A: If you have provided your sub-tenant proper notice and he refuses to leave then you'll need to evict him via the Court.
A: In your case, if you want to evict your month-to-month tenant when he is current on rent, then he is probably entitled to at least 21 days written notice to quit indicating that you are terminating the lease pursuant to Section 13-40-107. In that situation, you don't need a "reason" to end the lease; you are just saying the lease is over and he needs to move.
If you want to evict based on late rent, then you would need to provide a three day demand for compliance or right to possession pursuant to Section 13-40-104(1)(d) that indicates how much is owed (among other items).
After providing appropriate notice and cure periods, as applicable, you would then begin the formal court eviction process, including a properly served complaint and summons.
A few general notes for a landlord who believes she needs to evict a tenant:
- Colorado has a very specific and strictly enforced procedure that a landlord must follow to evict a tenant. These eviction standards may apply to you even if you believe you had a relatively “informal” landlord-tenant relationship. By entering into a lease with a tenant, no matter how informal you believe it may be, you are assuming the burden of following the statutory requirements before evicting your tenant.
- Colorado generally does not allow a landlord to bypass this eviction process by unilaterally changing the locks, removing the tenant’s belongings, or otherwise engaging in a DIY or self-help eviction. By DIY or self-help eviction, I mean an eviction that does not follow the required judicial process. Even without the assistance of an attorney, a landlord can follow the process and obtain a court-ordered eviction complete with sheriff oversight.
- As a landlord, you should think twice before taking the shortcut of a self-help eviction (no matter how clearly justified you believe you are), because it may expose you to a wrongful eviction claim (and damages) by even the worst of tenants.
- If you want to attempt an eviction without the assistance of an attorney, you may want to begin your research with Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-40-104, Section 13-40-106, Section 13-40-107, and Section 13-40-107.5 to understand (a) how many (one or two?) notices you need to provide to your tenant and (b) the proper timing and content of those notices. The answers to these questions largely depend on why you are seeking to evict your tenant.
The content and timing of the notices required by Colorado’s eviction law are very common areas for landlords (especially landlords not represented by an attorney) to fall short of the standard. As a landlord, a judge may very well dismiss your eviction suit (without even letting you explain any of the long and sordid history of your nightmare tenant) if the judge determines that you have failed to provide legally sufficient notice to your tenant. If the judge also determines that this means that the tenant is the “prevailing party” in your failed FED action, then your tenant may be entitled to receive reimbursement from you for tenant’s attorney’s fees and costs in defending the suit (see CRS Section 13-40-123).
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