Most people who sign leases do so with the intention of staying the entire time the lease requires. However, situations arise in which leases need to be broken. Whether you’re unhappy with your current living situation or find yourself in the dire need of a move, you might worry about whether you’re going to have to shell out a bunch of money because of your lease. The good news is that under certain circumstances, terminating a lease early in Colorado is justifiable. Meaning, you won’t have to pay the difference as long as you can make sure you’re breaking the lease legally. Either way, if you’re thinking about getting out of a lease in Colorado, here’s what you can expect.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities When Signing a Lease in Colorado
What is a lease? A lease is a binding agreement between a landlord and tenant, often for a year period. However, there are also shorter-term leases, like three or six months, month-to-month leases, and even longer two-year leases. Under the terms of a typical lease, the landlord is not permitted to make changes to the lease, raise the rent, or force a tenant to move out. Often times, the lease benefits both the landlord and the tenant. But, that doesn’t mean that you’re untouchable while living there. If you’re looking at the Colorado tenant landlord breaking lease laws, there’s a few things to note.
What are your Colorado tenant rights for breaking a lease? There are situations in which a landlord can evict a tenant, such as failure to pay rent or major violation(s) of the terms of the lease. There are also different timelines the landlord must follow when evicting a tenant in Colorado. If a tenant has failed to pay rent, Colorado landlords must give the tenant 10 days’ notice to pay. If they don’t, then they may file an eviction lawsuit. If a tenant has repeatedly violated the terms of their lease, a landlord may issue an unconditional quit notice, which gives the tenant 10 days to move out of the property.
When is breaking a lease justifiable in Colorado?
Curious how to get out of a lease in Colorado? A tenant is required to pay the rent for the entirety of the lease, whether they live in the property or not. This is because you signed the lease, which is a legally binding contract. However, there are several situations in which a tenant is permitted to break their lease without penalty in Colorado. Justifiable reasons for breaking a lease in Colorado include:
Active Military Duty
Federal law allows you to break a lease if you enter active military service after signing your lease. This is filed under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This applies to members of the armed forces, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service or national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and active National Guard. You are required to give your landlord written notice that you plan to end your lease for military purposes. Once you mail out your notice, tenancy expires 30 days after the first of the month, or whenever your rent was due.
Colorado lease termination laws Title 38 Article 12 Part 402 allows for victims of domestic violence/abuse, stalking, and unlawful sexual behavior to end their leases early in hopes of protecting the victims that experience this. Landlords cannot penalize tenants for calling the police or other emergency institution in response to these circumstances. Tenants seeking to break a rental agreement due to domestic violence must provide written notice to their landlord, as well as documentation regarding the events (police report, protection order, a statement from medical professional or application assistant). This will allow the lease to be immediately broken, and your landlord cannot come after you for the rest of the rent that is owed.
Health and Safety Violations
Another reason you can legally break your lease is for health and safety concerns. If your rental is unsafe or violates Colorado health and safety codes, a court may deem you “constructively evicted” due to Colorado rental laws Title 38 Article 12 Part 507 and no longer obligated to your lease. This one is a little harder to prove, but Colorado landlords are required to provide the following:
- Working plumbing and gas facilities
- Weather protection/waterproofing
- Running water
- Reasonable amounts of hot water
- Functional heating and electricity
- Sanitary common areas
- Well-maintained stairways, floors, and railings
- Exterior door and window locks
- Appropriate response to vermin or rodent infestation
- Adequate garbage receptacles
If your landlord is not providing remedy to any of the above within five days of you giving them written notice, you may be eligible for constructive eviction.
Gas leaks are extremely serious and should be addressed as soon as they are suspected. If you suspect a gas-related hazard in your rental, Colorado law, statute 38 article 12 part 104, requires you to notify your landlord immediately. If your landlord does not address the issue within 72 hours (excluding weekends and federal holidays), your lease is voided and you are eligible to have your security deposit returned.
Yet another reason a tenant can legally break a lease is if they are being harassed. This is in thanks to the House Bill 1035 in Colorado. If a landlord violates a tenant’s rights to privacy, you may be justified in breaking your lease. Unfortunately, Colorado law does not specify how much notice a landlord needs to give you before entering your rental. Usually a landlord is allowed entry for repairs with “reasonable notice,” and does not have to give you notice before entering if there is an emergency. However, if your landlord repeatedly violates your privacy by entering your rental for no reason, changing your locks, removing doors or windows, or turning off the utilities, you may be eligible for constructive eviction. You are required to give written notice to your landlord that you wish them to stop their behavior or remedy the issue. Often, you’ll need to get a third-party involved in cases like this.
What if I don’t have a justifiable reason to break my lease in Colorado?
There are plenty of reasons that people want to break their leases without legal justification. Maybe you’re moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or you’ve accepted a job in a new city. Maybe you found a better deal somewhere else or just want somewhere fresh to live. If you need to move and don’t want to pay out the entirety of your lease, but don’t have a legal reason to break it, there are still steps you can take to minimize your financial loss.
Give Ample Notice
When attempting to break a lease, it’s best to give as much notice as possible – the more time a landlord has to find a new tenant, the better. The good news is that Colorado law requires your landlord take reasonable action to re-rent the property if you plan to leave before the end of your lease to help mitigate losses. So, if they have more time to find a tenant, you may be able to get out without losing any money.
Talk to Your Landlord
You never know what your landlord will say until you ask! Your landlord is a person too, and they know that life’s circumstances change. While you can’t expect for them to just let you go completely, they might be able to help or lend a listening ear. He or she may even be looking to raise rent and will be happy to terminate your lease with 30-days notice, or some other compromise.
Find a New Renter
Another option to get out of your lease in Colorado is to find a new renter. If you have a replacement lined up, or offer to help find one, chances are better that your landlord won’t mind releasing you from your lease. They might be open to a sublease as well.
Reread Your Lease
Check the fine print! If there is something in your lease that was promised but not delivered upon, there might be a justifiable out for you that you didn’t expect. If you’re leaving because the home isn’t up to par, chances are, you can find a justifiable reason as to why you can break the lease.
Ask a HUD-Approved Counselor
Need further assistance with ending your lease early? It’s always a good idea to speak to tenants’ rights organizations if you’re not sure how to go about it. Click here for a list of housing counseling agencies in Colorado approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Are you breaking a lease to find somewhere new in Colorado? If so, call Wasatch Moving to help you relocate! We’re a top-rated Denver moving company here to help you move out of your old place and into your new.