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Colorado Democrats introduce new bill to limit evictions

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Rep. Javier Mabrey, a Denver Democrat and sponsor of the For Cause Eviction bill, leads a press conference at the Colorado State Capitol. The bill would limit when a landlord can evict a tenant.
Photo: Alison Berg, Rocky Mountain PBS

DENVER — Colorado Democrats have introduced legislation that would limit when landlords can evict a tenant.

Under the “For Cause” eviction proposal landlords cannot evict a tenant without clearly defined cause. Such causes include illegal possession of the property (an umbrella term for failing to pay rent), demolition or conversion of property, substantial repairs or renovations to the property, occupancy assumed by the landlord or a family member of the landlord, expiration of time-limited housing or intent to sell the property.

A landlord would also have to provide a reason for not renewing a tenant’s lease, if the landlord chooses not to renew once the lease expires.

“This law creates stability for both landlords and tenants because it does not prevent landlords from evicting tenants who have violated their lease or failed to pay their rent,” said Rep. Javier Mabrey, a Denver Democrat who is also an eviction defense attorney.

“This will save Colorado families money, keep roofs over their heads and help them keep roots in their community,” Mabrey said.

In 2023, Denver saw a record number of eviction court cases. Mabrey said more than 90% of Colorado evictions result from a tenant not paying their rent, and this bill would not protect those tenants. Instead, the bill is aimed at preventing racial and other discrimination from landlords, which Mabrey said is a rarer case, but has an equally significant impact.

“This is a small but meaningful change that we’re making,” Mabrey said.  “Really, this is the first step and bare minimum.”

Monique Gant, a former Westminster resident, said she was evicted after asking for paperwork from her landlord for rental assistance.
Photo: Alison Berg, Rocky Mountain PBS

Monique Gant, who spoke at a rally in favor of the bill, said such a bill would have saved her family in 2022, when they were renting a Westminster property. Gant said she asked her landlord for paperwork she needed for a rental assistance application and was met with racial slurs and attacks from the landlord’s family.

Gant said she filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office in July 2022, and received a “notice of non-renewal,” days later. The notice said Gant and her family had to be out of the property by the next month.

Almost two years later, Gant said she and her family now live in an RV and are constantly relocating.

“It’s hard, because I don’t know where my kids will go to school,” Gant said. “That's where our roots were.”

Mabrey said this year’s bill is similar to last year’s “Just Cause Eviction,” bill, which passed the House but failed in the Senate.

This year’s bill is different, Mabrey said, because it has more protections for landlords. Whereas last year’s bill required landlords to extend “substantially similar” leases with “reasonable” rent price increases, this year's bill allows landlords to hike up rent prices however they please, potentially pricing tenants out.

Last year’s proposal also would have required landlords to pay evicted tenants’ moving fees, and this year’s only requires them to do so if the landlords break a law.

Mabrey said the new version, while imperfect, is better than the baseline.

“Right now, Colorado landlords can evict a tenant for any reason or for no reason at all, even if the tenant has paid their rent and done nothing wrong,” Mabrey said. “This will stabilize rentals and prevent unnecessary displacement and retaliatory evictions.”

Melissa Mejia, director of state and local policy at the Community Economic Defense Project, said other states with similar laws have found success. As Colorado’s population continues to decline along with rising prices, Mejia said the state cannot afford to wait on eviction defense legislation.

“Colorado families will be forced to leave the state before most new affordable housing is even built or available,” Mejia said.

“Evictions take people out of their communities, away from their kids’ schools, further away from their jobs,” she said.

Alison Berg is a reporter at Rocky Mountain PBS.

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