Los Angeles, CA asked in Contracts for Colorado

Q: I have been renting with no written lease. Mid-month they want to raise rent & ask for $250 more for month already paid.

I have been at the same place for nearly 8 years. 7 months ago the property sold but we were allowed to continue with no rent changes. Then today the owners sent their foreman to tell me that the they wanted more for rent now and that I needed to pay the difference for the month that I already paid for last week. Can they do that?

What are my rights with not having a written lease? What should I be getting from them to protect myself down the road since I have been seeing their shady side more and more?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ashley Dean Powell
Ashley Dean Powell
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: In Colorado, a verbal lease can be enforceable. Especially with a multi-year history, you probably have a standard of behavior and practices that have been developed by you and your landlord. For example, if you tend to pay once each month for a month of rent at a time, then you would probably be viewed as having a month-to-month lease (if you pay different, the result could be different).

Your landlord cannot retroactively increase your rent without your consent. If your landlord wants to increase your rent in the future, they probably need to provide you with at least 21 days advanced written notice of the proposed rent increase. This is the same length of time that a landlord would need to provide written notice to terminate a month-to-month lease (see Colorado Revised Statute Section 13-40-107(1)). In essence, your landlord would be giving you notice that the current lease agreement is terminated and the proposed new rent if you want to continue is "X".

If you are on a month-to-month lease, then you or your landlord can terminate the lease (assuming proper notice is given) without any particular reason. Given that you don't trust your new landlord and do not have the stability of a longer lease, you may want to begin looking for a new place or ask the new landlord if they are willing to enter into a written lease (perhaps a standard one-year lease?) that may give you a little more stability or comfort dealing with a new landlord.

If all the statements of fact in your question are true and there are not other relevant facts that you have not provided, your landlord's demand for retroactive rent increase for November is probably invalid/unenforceable but (if in writing) may be enforceable for your next month's rent when it becomes due (assuming your rent is due, for example, on December 1 for the month of December).

If you previously gave your old landlord a security deposit, you may also want to seek confirmation from your new landlord that the security deposit was transferred. This would give you a heads up of a potential future battle with your new landlord. It would probably be best to get that answer/agreement in writing.

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