Eviction - Questions and Answers
Authored By: Colorado Legal Services
What is an Eviction?
An eviction is a lawsuit by the landlord, filed in court, to remove a tenant from a rental property.
Why can a landlord evict me?
A landlord can evict you if:
- You did not pay rent
- You remained on the rental unit premises after the end of the lease period (whether or not the lease is in writing)
- You are a guest (or tenant at will) and the landlord wants you to leave
- You have broken any condition of the lease
- You have committed certain crimes against people or property while you were on the premises
- You have committed certain crimes involving the possession, use or sale of drugs on the property
I did not pay my rent, can the landlord evict me?
Maybe. If you do not pay the rent and you receive a 'three day notice' or 'demand for compliance or possession' and do not pay rent with in the three-days, your landlord can file an eviction case in court to get you removed from the rental property.
As long as you pay the rent in full (the amount demanded in the Eviction notice which sometimes includes late fees) within three days after you receive the notice, you can stop the eviction from going forward. However, once the three days has passed, the landlord may reject your payment and proceed with the eviction.
Make sure you get a written receipt if you pay your rent and any late fees.
In order to avoid eviction, you must actually pay, or attempt to hand the money to the landlord. Promising to pay at a future time is NOT GOOD ENOUGH unless the landlord agrees to wait for the money. If the landlord agrees to wait, make sure you get an agreement in writing from the landlord.
I broke a condition of the lease, can the landlord evict me?
If you have broken a condition of the lease, you will most likely receive a three-day demand for compliance notice that will allow you to correct (cure) the problem within three days. If you correct the problem in three days, you will not be evicted. However, if you have broken the same condition of the lease more than once, you may not have another chance to fix (cure) the problem and you will have to leave in three days or the landlord can start an eviction case.
What is the eviction procedure? (for tenants with a written lease)?
The landlord must give a written three-day demand notice. This notice must be posted on the door, mailed, or given to someone in the household over 15 years old.
The three day notice will either be a:
- "Notice to Cure" also known as "Demand for Compliance or Possession". This notice should tell you what the landlord's complaint is and gives you the option of correcting the problem within 3 days or exiting the rental unit. You'll usually receive this notice if you have not paid the rent or have violated a condition of the lease only once. If you correct the problem within three days you will not be evicted.
- "Notice to Quit or Vacate" means that you do not have the option to correct the problem, and you must leave the rental unit within 3 days. You may receive this notice if you have broken the same condition of the lease several times. You may also receive this type of notice if you have committed a "substantial violation", usually an act of violence or a drug-related felony. You may also receive such a notice at the end of the lease period, although it is not required, unless there is some provision for it in the lease. Generally the lease will require more than three days' notice.
***Important note: a three-day notice means: you have three days to pay the rent/correct the problem or the court will get involved. It does NOT mean that you have to be out of your house in three days.
***Important note for tenants in subsidizing housing: tenants in subsidized housing may receive additional notices with additional rights, including greater time frames and the right to meet with the landlord before the landlord can file for an eviction notice. You can find more information about subsidized housing in Colorado here. There are specific requirements for a valid eviction notice. If you do not receive a notice with this information on it you may have a defense in Court.
For the Notice to Cure/Demand for Compliance or Possession - this notice must contain the following information: it must state the address of the premises and it must also state the alleged breach of the lease with some details. It has to state that you have three (3) days to cure/correct the violation of the lease or move.It must also state the date by which you must comply with the lease or vacate and it must be signed by the landlord, his agent or attorney.
For the Three (3) Day Notice to Quit or Vacate (repeat or substantial violation notices) - this notice must contain the following information: it must state the address of the premises and state the alleged breach of the lease with some detail. The Notice must state that the alleged breach is either a repeat violation of the lease or a substantial violation of the lease. Finally it must state the date by which you must move out and it must be signed by the landlord, his agent or attorney.
On the fourth day from the day you or someone in your household receives the Notice, if you have not cured (fixed the problem), the landlord can now go to court and file a Summons and Complaint. If you receive a Summons and Complaint you will be given a court date. The court date must be at least seven days and not more than fourteen calendar days after you are served with the papers. During this time you can remain in your rental unit.
***Important note: although you are legally allowed to remain in your rental unit during this time, if you go to court and lose you can be removed by the sheriff 48 hours after the court order is issued.
If you want to contest the eviction, you must file a Response (or Answer) to the Summons and Complaint by completing the form CRCCP3 from the eviction forms page on the state court website. To file an answer you will go to the courthouse in your district and pay the filing fee. If you cannot afford the court filing fee you may request to get the fee waived (you might not have to pay it). You can complete fhe form to request a waiver of fees online here (go to Court Processes), or find the proper forms (JDF 205 & 206) on this page or you can go to the court clerk and ask for a "Fee Waiver Form". You will need to file all paperwork (Request for Waiver of Fees and the Answer) in person at the courthouse on or before your court date.
When filing your Answer you can include claims that you may have against the landlord. If the tenant files an Answer contesting the eviction, the case will be set for trial. The trial date may be scheduled within approximately five business days. If you need more time to prepare your defense, you should request the additional time when you appear for court the first time. The court may require that you deposit some money with the court as a condition to granting a delay beyond 5 business days.
***Important note: if the tenant fails to answer or appear on the date indicated in the eviction papers, the court will issue an Eviction Order by default and you can be removed by the sheriff 48 hours after the court order is issued.
You must appear in court. If you do not appear in court, the landlord will automatically win and the court will allow the eviction. If the landlord wins you can be evicted and may have to pay damages.
Your landlord must prove the following:
- You and the landlord had either an oral agreement or a written lease under which you lived in the rental unit, or that you continued to occupy the property with the landlord's consent after the original lease expired
- You violated the agreement or lease, or failed to move out after your right to occupy the property expired
- You were properly served with a three-day Demand for Compliance or Possession, a Notice to Quit for Subsequent Violation or a Notice to Quit upon expiration of your lease or right to occupy
- If you were served with a Demand for Compliance or Possession, that you did not comply OR, if you were served with a Notice to Quit for Subsequent Violation that the landlord had grounds to serve you with the Notice.
The landlord presents his or her case first, by testifying, having other people testify, and introducing into evidence documents (such as the lease and the Demand for Payment or Possession).
After each witness testifies, you are allowed to ask questions of the witness. Once the landlord finishes his/her case, you have the chance to present your case. You and/or other witnesses may speak, and you can show the Judge any papers that help prove your case. Try to keep your case simple, and only present testimony and papers that are related to your landlord's allegations and the legal defenses that you wrote in your Answer.
***Important note: You may choose not to appear in court if your Summons and Complaint was posted on your door and not handed to you or a family member over 15 years old and you want to move out. This is true even if the landlord is also asking the Judge for money. If you were served only by posting and do not go to court, the Judge will enter a default judgment against you only for possession (which means you can be evicted), but the Judge will not enter a judgment against you for money
However, if you choose to go to court to file an Answer and you lose, the Judge may enter a judgment against you for money and for the possession of the rental property. If the landlord wins you can be removed by the sheriff 48 hours after the court order is issued. If the landlord claims you also owe money that question may also be resolved at the trial or may be deferred for further court proceedings depending on the county in which you live.
If you win you will be able to stay in the rental unit.
If the landlord wins, you will need to leave the rental property or be physically evicted. When the landlord wins he/she has the right, after 48 hours, to get a Writ of Restitution from the Court. Click here for Writ of Restitution definition. This means that after 48 hours, the sheriff can receive an Order to come to the premises and move you out.
You may call the civil division of the sheriff's office of the county where you live to find out when a sheriff's deputy will be there to evict you. Find your local sherrif's office. It may be more than 48 hours depending on how busy the sheriff's office is.
It is a good idea to be out of the rental unit before the sheriff gets there. The landlord or someone helping the landlord will remove you and your belongings from the premises. The sheriff will be there to keep the peace. Your belongings will be put out on the street. Neither the sheriff nor your landlord has any obligation to make sure that your belongings are safe after they are put out on the street.
For out-of-court agreements, if you wish to continue living in the rental unit, you can attempt to reach an agreement with the landlord or his/her attorney. If you do not have a good legal defense, the Judge cannot let you stay if the landlord does not agree. You may be able to meet with the landlord or the attorney for the landlord before court begins. Your agreement should at least entitle you to stay if you pay some amount of money, or if you agree that the landlord can have a "judgment for possession" but will not have the sheriff remove you until an agreed upon date. If an agreement is made you should get it in writing. Also, you should remain in court until the Judge calls your case. Tell the Judge about your agreement. Remain in court even if the landlord or the landlord's attorney suggests that it is OK for you to leave. If the Judge is not available, make sure to get the agreement in writing and that it is filed with the court.
What legal defenses may I have when I go to Court?
Some examples of legal defenses are:
- The three day notice does not have all of the information required on it or it was not properly served because you were available to receive the notice and the landlord did not try to deliver it to you before posting it
- You attempted to pay the entire rent owed within the three days and the landlord refused to accept it
- You did not violate the lease as is claimed by your landlord
- The portion of the lease violated was not a material (very important) provision of the lease
- The landlord has violated the "warranty of habitability" after you made written demands for compliance
If you convince the Judge that you have a legal defense, the Judge will let you stay in the rental unit. Even if you can prove that the condition of the premises is terrible, the Judge will probably still enter an Order requiring you to move. However, if the grounds for eviction is non-payment of rent and you can show the terrible condition of the rental unit, the Judge might agree with your claim and reduce the amount of money that you owe the landlord. If you lose the case, the landlord can have you evicted by the Sheriff as soon as 48 hours after the Judge decides your case.
Ordinarily the Sheriff will not oversee an Eviction on Saturday or Sunday. Call your Sheriff's office to confirm this.The sheriff can remove you from the premises only between the hours of sunrise and sunset.
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This communication is made available by Colorado Legal Services, Inc., (CLS), as a public service and is issued to inform not to advise. No person should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of an attorney. The opinions expressed in this communication are those of the authors and not those of CLS or its funding sources. If you need advice on this or any other legal problem, consult an attorney of your own choosing. If you cannot afford an attorney, talk to Colorado Legal Services, 303.837.1312.