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How Colorado’s New Law on Warranty of Habitability Helps Tenants

Colorado just passed House Bill 1170, which made amendments to the Residential Tenants Health and Safety Act (the “Act”). This bill provides more protection to residential tenants under what’s known as the warranty of habitability. At its most basic level, the bill increases tenant protections by mandating every leasing agreement include a warranty that states the rental property will be habitable, i.e., a safe place to live. A landlord breaches the lease contract if he or she fails to comply with the Act.

Before House Bill 1170 was incorporated into the Act, a landlord had a reasonable amount of time after receiving written notice from a tenant to cure the problem that was causing an uninhabitable residence. Now, the Act allows a tenant to provide written or electronic notice to a landlord describing what the tenant believes makes the rental property unfit, and it gives the landlord specific timeframes within which to act upon the tenant’s notice. A landlord now must comply with the following timeframes: (1) 24 hours to respond if the condition is materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant’s life, health, or safety; or (2) 96 hours to respond if the condition is uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation.

What Is Changing With The New Act?

The Act also provides a list of what constitutes safety, health, or life-threatening issue. The bill as passed adds two items to that list: the presence of mold and faulty appliances. More specifically, the bill states that a residential premises is uninhabitable if there is mold that is associated with dampness, or there is any other condition causing the residential premises to be damp, which condition, if not remedied, would materially interfere with the health or safety of the tenant, excluding the presence of mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their proper functioning and intended use. The bill also states that a residential premises is uninhabitable if it lacks functioning appliances that conformed to applicable law at the time of installation and that are maintained in good working order.

The bill also outlines what a landlord must do after receiving notice from a tenant. If requested by a tenant, a landlord must move the tenant to a comparable property that the landlord selects or a hotel room, at no expense or cost to the tenant.

Additionally, House Bill 1170 now generally makes unlawful provisions stating a tenant is assuming certain responsibilities regarding the condition of the rental property. An exception to this amendment is single-family residences, where the landlord does not receive any governmental subsidy, to allow the landlord and tenant to agree in writing to allocate specific repairs, maintenance tasks, or other matters subject to requirements.

Furthermore, the Act now states that if the same condition that substantially caused a breach reappears within 6 months after the condition is repaired or remedied, other than a condition that merely involves a nonfunctioning appliance, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement 14 days after providing the landlord written or electronic notice of the tenant’s intent to do so. However, in a case concerning a condition that merely involves a nonfunctioning appliance, if the landlord remedies the condition within 14 days after receiving the notice, the tenant may not terminate the rental agreement.

Contact Us Today

This article is by no means a comprehensive outline of House Bill 1170. However, if you’re facing one of the issues described above, please contact one of our experienced attorneys at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. to discuss your options.

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