Colorado Eviction Process
October 23, 2023
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If you own and rent properties in the state of Colorado, you are responsible for complying with Colorado laws to evict a tenant. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Colorado.
Colorado’s eviction laws can be found at CRS § 13-40-40.1.
Eviction Process in Colorado
- Landlord serves a three- or ten-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant the summons.
- Tenant files an answer.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets 48 hours to move out.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Colorado, tenants can be evicted for nonpayment of rent, substantial lease breaches, and criminal acts.
1. Landlord Serves a Three- or Ten-Day Eviction Notice.
If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve one of the following eviction notices and state that the tenant has the corresponding number of days to remedy or cure the violation:
- Rent Demand Notice: 10 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent and late fees required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if they are not paid (not less than ten business days after receipt of the notice) (CRS § 13-40-104(1)(d)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 10 days to cure or quit. If the tenant violates a lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than ten days after receipt of the notice) (CRS § 13-40-104(1)(e)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3 days to quit. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant commits any of the following “substantial violations” as per CRS § 13-40-107.5:
- Endangering the property or a neighbor’s property
- Violent or drug-related felonies that occur on or near the premises
- Criminal acts in violation of federal, state, or local laws that occur on the premises, carry an incarceration sentence of 180 days or more, and have been declared to be a public nuisance by state law.
According to Colorado eviction laws, all notices to quit must be served either by delivering a copy to the tenant, delivering a copy to another resident of the rental unit, leaving it with a member of the tenant’s family over fifteen years old, or, if no one is available, posting the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises (CRS § 13-40-108).
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach at the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file an eviction complaint in either the Colorado District Court or Colorado County Court with jurisdiction over the region where the property is located. To do so, the landlord will need to request, complete, and submit an Eviction Complaint and Affidavit form (downloadable here) with the appropriate court.
If the complaint is filed at a county court and the monthly rental value of the landlord’s property is more than $25,000, the county court will suspend proceedings and transmit the case to the district court in the same county. County courts can only enter judgments for rent, damages, and eviction counterclaims when the claim (either the landlord’s or the tenant’s) is less than $25,000 (CRS § 13-40-109).
The landlord’s complaint should include the following as per CRS § 13-40-110:
- A description of the property with reasonable certainty
- The lease violation or grounds for the eviction
- The tenant’s name
- The amount of rent due
- The rate rent is accruing
- The amount of any damages due and the rate they are accruing
The landlord will also be required to pay a filing fee at this time. For civil evictions filed in county court, the fee depends on the claim amount: the fee is $85 for claims $999.99 or less, $105 for claims between $1,000.00 and $14,999.99, and $155 for claims between $15,000 and $25,000. For actions filed in district court, the fee is always $235.
3. Court Serves Tenant the Summons
Once the complaint is filed, the clerk of the court will issue a summons. The Court Summons (downloadable here) will demand that the tenant appear in court on a date between seven and fourteen days from the filing date, and it will include a list of available resources with website links and phone numbers for residential tenants to receive legal aid and rental assistance (CRS § 13-40-111(5)). The summons will also inform the tenant that they must file a written answer to the landlord’s complaint.
The summons must be served with a copy of the complaint by someone who is not a party in the case and is least 18 years old, as in any other civil action. If the sheriff serves the summons, they can charge a fee equaling the actual expenses of service, up to $35 (CRS § 30-1-104(1)(a.5)).
If personal service cannot be made as required under the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, the server can post a copy of the summons and complaint in a conspicuous place, and the landlord should mail a copy to the tenant as well. The summons should be served at least seven days before the court date (CRS § 13-40-112).
4. Tenant Files an Answer
After receiving the summons, the tenant must file an Answer (downloadable here) with the court, which may state:
- Why the tenant believes they have a right to remain in the property
- Whether the tenant admits or denies the landlord’s allegations
- Whether the landlord gave proper notice (note, this defense can only be raised before the hearing – they cannot raise this defense for the first time in court).
The tenant will be required to pay a filing fee to the clerk of the court upon filing the answer. If the tenant is making a claim that the withheld rent due to the landlord’s failure to make necessary repairs, the court will require the tenant to pay the rent due into the registry of the court (CRS § 13-40-111(1)).
Once the answer is filed, the court will set a date for the court hearing between seven and ten days after the answer is filed. An additional ten days may be granted as a continuance to either party if they can demonstrate good cause for why the hearing should be delayed. This continuance policy does not apply to eviction lawsuits based on substantial violations (CRS § 13-40-113).
If the tenant does not file an answer on or before the court date, the judge may enter a default judgment for possession, damages, and costs in the landlord’s favor.
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgement. The judgment will decide who is entitled to possession of the property.
If the landlord wins, the court will grant an order for possession of the premises and issue a writ of restitution. The court will also enter judgment for any amounts due to the landlord (unpaid rent and bills) as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and costs (CRS § 13-40-115).
Either party can appeal the judgment to the district court (CRS § 13-40-117).
6. Tenant Gets 48 Hours to Move Out
The Writ of Restitution (downloadable here) will not be issued until at least 48 hours after the entry of the judgment. The tenant, thus, has two full days to quit the unit before an officer can arrive to forcibly remove the tenant (CRS § 13-40-122).
7. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant does not move out within 48 hours, the writ may be executed by the county sheriff’s office (either by a sheriff, undersheriff, or deputy sheriff). The landlord must take the writ to the sheriff’s office and arrange for an officer to be sent to the property to forcibly remove the tenant and restore possession to the landlord (CRS § 13-40-122(2)). After the eviction, the sheriff may charge the landlord for actual expenses up to $200, ore more if the eviction took longer than two hours (CRS § 30-1-104(1)(gg)).
The landlord is not required to store the tenant’s personal property once it is removed from the premises during or after the eviction. The landlord has no duty to inventory the property or determine the ownership or condition of it, and they are also immune from liability for any losses or damages to the tenant’s property. However, if the landlord does choose to store the tenant’s belongings, they may charge the tenant the reasonable costs of storing it. They must either dispose of it under lien rights or allow the tenant to retrieve it after paying reasonable storage charges (CRS § 13-40-122(3-4)).
Evicting a Squatter in Colorado
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria.
What are squatters rights in Colorado? In Colorado, squatters must have lived in the property for eighteen consecutive years or held color of title and paid property taxes for seven consecutive years to invoke Colorado squatters rights and claim right of possession (CRS § 38-41-101, 38-41-108). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Colorado to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Colorado, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Colorado eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Colorado Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Colorado, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Action||Approximate Cost (County Court)||Approximate Cost (District Court)|
|Service of court summons by sheriff||≤$35||≤$35|
|Service and execution of writ of restitution by sheriff||Actual charges up to $200, except when duration exceeds 2 hours||Actual charges up to $200, except when duration exceeds 2 hours|
|Average locksmith fees||$160||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||N/A||N/A|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies||Varies|
Colorado Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||3 or 10 days|
|Service of summons to tenant||Varies|
|Tenant answer period||7-14 days|
|Maximum continuance period||10 days|
|Eviction hearing||7-14 days after filing|
|Issuance of writ of restitution||48 hours|
|Total||3 weeks to several months|
- Notice to Quit
- Notice and Demand for Compliance and Right of Possession (Cure or quit)
- Eviction Complaint and Affidavit (Forcible Entry and Detainer)
- Court Summons: Eviction/Forcible Entry and Detainer
- Answer Under Simplified Civil Procedure
- Writ of Restitution
- Colorado Court Filing Fees – This document lists the fees for filing various types of actions in the different Colorado courts.
- Filing Fees, Surcharges, and Costs in Colorado State Courts – More information about court fees in Colorado.
- Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure – This document includes the specific rules of civil procedure and court policies in Colorado.
- Colorado Judiciary Guide to Eviction Cases – This document includes a breakdown of the eviction process in Colorado from the Colorado judicial branch.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal Colorado eviction process, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.