DENVER — Colorado Democrats are trying again this legislative session to expand legal protections for renters, preventing them from being evicted or not renewed by their landlords without a reason. Advocates say the bill, which is being called “for cause eviction” legislation, would help keep people in their homes and empower them to speak up when they are being harmed.
A large group of lawmakers and advocates gathered at the capitol Wednesday afternoon to announce the legislation, which was filed after the announcement.
“Colorado’s housing affordability crisis impacts renters from the Western Slope to the Front Range, and every corner of our state,” said House Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “Every single eviction is heartbreaking.”
The bill would only permit landlords to evict a tenant or not renew their lease if they have a legitimate reason, recognized by law—like failure to pay rent, lease violations not fixed by the tenant in a timely manner, and criminal activity. Under Colorado law currently, landlords are allowed to evict or not renew for any reason, or no reason.
A similar bill was introduced by Democrats last year, but failed to gain enough traction to pass. Lawmakers said they feel more confident about this year’s bill, which is narrower and includes changes requested by Republicans.
The bill comes as Colorado sees a staggering number of evictions filed, more than 13,000 in the Denver area alone last year according to lawmakers.
“Denver saw the highest number of evictions since the city started collecting this data in 2008,” said Rep. Javier Mabrey, D-Denver, of 2023. “I want us to think about that. That means more than during the Great Recession.”
It’s unclear how many of last year’s evictions would have been prevented if a similar law were already in place. Mabrey acknowledged that most evictions are due to nonpayment of rent, which would still be allowed under the proposed law. No cause evictions constitute “less than 10 percent” of evictions, Mabrey said.
“The impact of them is absolutely devastating,” he said. “You need first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a deposit [to move]. This means families can’t remain in the neighborhoods where their kids go to school, for no good reason. They need $6,000 to find new housing, at least. So we’re trying to prevent a relatively small but a meaningful, meaningful number of evictions here in our state.”
The most emotional part of the press conference came as a Monique Grant, a renter in Westminster who was evicted last year, spoke. Grant claimed her lease was not renewed following a racist assault, after she attempted to apply for rental assistance to make payment. Advocates for the law argue this protection is needed to empower renters to fight for adequate housing without the fear of retaliation.
“I filed a complaint with the Attorney General about the assault, and shortly after we were given a nonrenewal of lease without an explanation of why … having for cause evictions in place would have prevented my family and I from being in the situation,” Grant said.
The cause required for eviction of residential tenant bill is expected to be introduced in committee later this month, at which point both renters and landlords will testify before lawmakers.