DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis ended the remaining temporary protections granted to renters at risk of eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this month, so what can people in Colorado do if they are still struggling to pay rent?
To start, you should know there’s a new state law in place that’s providing some relief for renters across the state.
SB21-173, which went into effect on Oct. 1, helps renters in several ways.
First, it prohibits landlords from evicting tenants just because they failed to pay one or more late fees.
Second, it limits the amount a landlord can charge in late fees to $50 or 5% of the amount of past due rent, whichever is greater. A landlord cannot charge a fee for late rent until at least seven days have passed after the due date.
Third, it allows renters to pay owed rent to their landlord at any time until a court has ordered a writ of restitution, which is the document that authorizes the sheriff to evict someone from their home.
Fourth, it requires that a trial date be set seven to ten days after an answer by a defendant facing eviction is filed. The court can extend the date beyond the ten days if either the tenant or landlord demonstrate good cause for an extension.
And fifth, it prohibits rental agreements that contain one-way fee-shifting clauses that award attorney fees and court costs only to one party.
As of Oct. 11, the Department of Local Affairs had approved 44,680 applications for emergency housing assistance with a total of $180.5 million being distributed to those in need, according to a dashboard from the Division of Housing. Some 1,914 applications were under review and another 3,739 were missing information. More than 1,700 are still awaiting review.
How you can get help with rental assistance if you’re struggling to pay rent
The Colorado Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is a good way to start.
ERAP can help cover rent as far back as April 2020 and includes past due, current and two additional months of rent up to a maximum of 15 months of assistance, according to its website.
The landlord or the tenant can start the application process, but be aware that receiving assistance from ERAP will require documentation from both the tenant and the landlord.
Head to the ERAP website to learn more. You can also call or text 1-888-480-0066 on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., or on Saturdays between 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Another resource is the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.
The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project offers free legal aid and guidance to tenants facing eviction and housing insecurity. You’ll need to fill out an intake form before connecting with someone; however, the project has several resources on its website for tenants, including economic support as well as legal resources.
Colorado Housing Connects is another way tenants can get help with rent.
The organization helps renters reach critical eviction prevention services. The organization partners with Central Colorado Housing, Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation, NeighborWorks Southern Colorado, the Denver Housing Authority and more. Head to the Colorado Housing Connects website to learn more or call 1-844-926-6632.
The City of Denver has a list of free eviction legal services for people struggling to pay rent, including Colorado Legal Services, which can be reached at (303) 837-1313 or at https://www.coloradolegalservices.org; Colorado Affordable Legal Services, which can be reached at (303) 996-0010 or at https://coloradoaffordablelegal.com/; and the Colorado Poverty Law Project can be reached out (720) 772-9762 or https://www.copovertylawproject.org/.
Lastly, the Colorado Apartment Association has a list of more than a dozen resources for Coloradans who may need rental assistance. The organizations are broken down by state, state nonprofit, county and city resources.
Click here to access the list of the different organizations you can reach out to if you need assistance.