Matthew: Hey, everybody. Matthew Whitaker here. We’re doing a video on how to evict a tenant in Colorado.
I’m with gkhouses here in Colorado. And I am with Paul Farrer, who is an eviction attorney here in Colorado. Hi, Paul.
Paul: How’re you doing?
Matthew: Thank you.
Paul is with Springman, Braden, Wilson & Pontius P.C. And we’re here today, we’re talking about how to evict a tenant in Colorado.
And he and I were talking right before this, we were talking about, you know, should this be specific for Denver, for Fort Collins, for Boulder, but he and I talked about it and this really is the eviction, we’re going to hit high-level eviction process of the whole state of Colorado.
So, Paul, thanks so much for being here. I want to get started.
You know, if I’m a landlord and I have a tenant or tenant at my house that stops paying rent.
That’s what most people think about when they’re talking about evicting a tenant.
Paul: Well, assuming that you have good records, it’s always important to keep a rent ledger and be able to prove your point if and when the case actually goes to court.
But the first step would be to serve a demand for payment, or a demand for compliance, and in some cases, they’re equivalent as far as that goes, because non-payment is a compliance issue.
Paul: In Colorado, you get 10 days to pay or move.
If neither one of those 2 things has happened within 10 days of service of the demand on the property, then the landlord is able to move forward with an eviction notice.
I mean, a tenant may be paying rent, but maybe non-compliant with the lease in other areas.
What Does That Look Like In Terms Of Serving Notice?
Paul: Well, the demand itself is going to be different in terms of its content.
Obviously, if it’s a non-payment of rent or other, you know, sums that are due, could be unpaid utilities, late fees, maybe the security deposit didn’t get paid, those are financial breaches.
Or non-financial breaches, things like unauthorized pets, unauthorized occupants, smoking when you’re not supposed to be smoking in the apartment, things like that, non-financial breaches, the demand is drafted differently and has to be detailed.
Basically, how is it that you know there is a problem? You need to lay that out.
What happened and when? What part of the contract is the tenant breaching?
Because these are all based on a breach of lease, right?
So you need to spell that out, quote the language of the contract.
And then finally, what do they have to do to fix the problem?
Those three things need to be present in that demand.
Sometimes I think our clients think that we’re asking them to draft a boring piece.
It just needs to be specific enough to let the tenant know what they did or didn’t do that caused the problem, what the contract says, and what they have to do to fix it.
Matthew: And you’re an attorney, obviously, we’re a property management company.
You know, this is the point where you could get started on the wrong foot and actually screw a piece of this up.
So, you know, this is a point where I would suggest possibly hiring an attorney, hiring a property management company to come in and help you with this process, to make sure that you don’t screw up the language.
Get to the court date and now, all of a sudden, you’ve got to start over because you realized you didn’t put proper language in the notice.
We’re not going to jump into exactly what should be in the notice, just for sake of this video not being forever long.
Let’s talk about…let’s say we’ve served notice, the 10-day and there’s some 3-day kind of substantial compliance notices that you can serve.
But once that period has passed, then there’s a filing and a service process.
Paul: Sure. Once the demand of the notice that has been served on the property has expired, the tenant hasn’t paid or moved, tenant, hasn’t cured the problem, in the case of a substantial violation, which is typically some really nasty criminal stuff that occurred on or near the premises.
The cure period goes by, the tenant’s still there, the landlord wants to file an eviction.
So the next step is to draft the pleadings, file it with the court, get it served, move forward to an initial court date.
With preference, or just our comments here today are concerned about standard tenantial tenancies, okay?
There are all kinds of different tenancies, different rules and things like that.
This is the regular market rate tenancy type of thing we’re talking about today.
Matthew: That’s a great point.
Some other, like, you know, ways that people have tenancy is Section 8, tax credit evictions.
And those are handled in a different way. There are some different nuances to that.
So we are just talking about kind of your standard eviction.
So, once the filing has happened and service has happened, then there’s a court date, right?
There’s a court date set and you have to show up for court. Before we jump into court though, I do have a question for you.
Paul: Typically the courts require that an attorney represent a corporate entity.
There is an exception for closely held corporations or entities. But that’s it.
Other than that, then, if it’s a business, the default is probably the safest thing to do is hire an attorney.
Because if you mess that up, you wind up in court and the judge or the magistrate goes, “Well, gee, you know, I see that you’re a company, and you’re representing a company, are you an attorney?”
And if you’re trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, then the court’s going to push that off until you get yourself an attorney to represent you in that matter.
Matthew: Yeah. And going back to, this is the last thing you want to do is screw up the process, get to the court and realize you’ve done something out of step, and you’ve gotta go back and start over.
So let’s talk about the court date. You show up, you’re in front of the judge, the tenant is there.
Paul: Well, we’ve been doing this a long time, so, the court is not particularly scary as far as we’re concerned.
It is a zoo in a lot of cases, and I don’t mean that…I’m not saying that to be derogatory or anything like that, but…
Matthew: There’s a lot of people.
Paul: Well, there are, yeah, lots of people, there can be different courtrooms, there’s a lot of things going on.
A judge may have other matters on his or her docket that do not involve civil cases, could be they’ve got criminal cases as well as civil cases, they’ve got kinds of the civil case.
So it can be a stressful thing if you’re not used to being in court, you know, just because, “Where do I go? What do I do?” That sort of thing.
Matthew: There’s no doubt, like, it’s one of those things that if you understand the process, you understand where to go, then it’s very easy.
But it’s kind of like a time I was in Italy and showed up at the train station and obviously didn’t read Italian.
And for somebody that reads Italian and rides the train every day, it’s a very simple process.
But for an American that doesn’t read Italian, that shows up in the Rome train station, it was highly stressful for me.
So, let’s say you’re in the court you go through the process, the judge hears both sides, and then the judge typically rules, right? At that point for possession judgment or?
Paul: Well, here’s the thing. In some jurisdictions, the matters are on the record.
Meaning you have a judge or a magistrate right there and the whole thing is on the record. Both sides are appearing…well.
I wouldn’t say both sides are appearing, whoever is appearing appears in front of the judge or magistrate.
The judge moves through and has basically a checklist to make sure everything was done properly, and the person had proper notice, the demand has truly expired, filing the interval between the time of filing and the ultimate first court date is proper.
So the bench official’s going to review that on the record right then and then ask for the request of the parties.
In other jurisdictions, you don’t have the bench, the judicial officer is not present.
So it’s a meeting between the sides.
If there’s an agreement to be made, parties can reduce it to writing typically a stipulation, winds up being filed with the court.
Which can be done on the record as well.
If the tenant doesn’t show up, then judgment’s gonna enter by default, again, whether that’s on the record or just not…
Paul: I would say, I mean, it’s hard to give an exact number that does this.
But, you know, 20% to 30% appearance rate on the part of the defendants is not unusual.
Matthew: Gotcha. So, basically a third-ish to a fifth show up at all.
All right. So, let’s say you go back and forth.
I mean, in an ideal world, you win what’s called a possession judgment, right?
Paul: That’s the objective of the eviction case is to obtain a possession judgment, yes.
Matthew: And then so once you have a possession judgment, then everybody thinks.
Oh, well, now I get the house, but that’s not exactly right.
Paul: No. There are a few things that have to happen after that.
What the possession judgment gives you the right to do is ask the court to issue what’s called a writ of restitution.
That’s the court order that can ultimately go to the sheriff’s office instructing and ordering the sheriff to come out and eject whoever and whatever is there at the property.
So, if a tenant does not move on their own, and the landlord needs the assistance of the sheriff’s department.
In order to, you know, enforce the court order, that’s what that part of the process is for, to simply go in, and change locks, and dispossess the tenant without the benefit of the sheriff. Bad.
Matthew: Yeah, get in trouble for doing that.
Paul: Bad, yeah.
Matthew: So, once the sheriff gets this kind of writ, how long does it take, like, once you get the writ and then it gets handed off to the sheriff.
How long does that typically take to get the sheriff out there to observe you cleaning out the unit?
Paul: Rule of thumb is a week or two from the time they are hired.
In other words, the time that the writ lands in the sheriff’s office.
It can be more, and it varies depending upon how busy the sheriff’s department is at that particular time.
And then, of course, they’ve got their own staffing issues and things like that that they have to deal with.
I’ve seen it go out much longer, but those were sort of extreme circumstances and, you know, we hope that it doesn’t take much longer than two.
Matthew: Right. And so, ideally, and one of the things to mention too is.
Throughout the whole process, like, tenants leave throughout the process, right?
Like, some tenants leave after the notice.
Some tenants leave after they’ve been served and been filed at the court.
Some tenants leave on the day of the court case.
So, throughout this whole process, you need to be checking on the unit to see what we call an occupancy check at gkhouses, to make sure that the tenant hasn’t just left and abandoned the unit.
Paul: Yeah, it’s, you know, acceptable to do, you know, a quick check to see if somebody’s still there or not.
It’s important to remember though that, just because somebody physically moves does not mean that they take all their stuff.
So, just as the individual that was named in the demand, which, you know, that should be whoever signed the lease, is not there anymore.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cease the eviction process.
In some cases, you wind up just evicting stuff. And have the sheriff supervise that.
Matthew: So, let’s talk about that.
I mean, that’s a perfect segue into kind of the last piece of this is, like, where do you see people go wrong in this process?
Where do you see the two or three biggest hangups where people go wrong?
Paul: I would say taking money, you have to be very careful about taking money.
So, whether it’s a, you know, no matter what kind of case it is, with the possible exception of a notice to vacate, which is essentially a no-cause type of eviction.
But if you serve a demand for payment and then you take money after that, you may very well have waived your right to proceed with that eviction.
So, I’ve seen that happen, you know, more than once where landlords wound up taking, you know, money when they shouldn’t have.
So, that’s something that you need to be talking to an attorney about because that’s probably the biggest reason why these things fail.
There’s some kind of maneuver that gets in place.
Other things have to do with the demands themselves, they’re not detailed enough, a judge thinks they’re vague, the tenant doesn’t know what to do, it’s confusing.
Something wrong with service, or the timing between the service and the return date.
Those are also pretty common pro sorts of things that you see go wrong.
Matthew: Awesome. Well, thanks for sharing that.
Once again, you know, our suggestion is to hire a professional.
You could hire a professional property manager such as us, or there are other great property management companies in Colorado that can help you with the eviction process.
Or you can go directly to an attorney like Paul.
So, I think it’s very important that you kind of have a high-level overview of the Colorado eviction process.
Paul, I really appreciate you spending some time with me today.
I undoubtedly believe this will be super supportive to the owners and the individuals out there that are leasing homes.
At least kind somewhat, get them started on the right foot.
Thanks so much.
So, we hope you’ll reach out to us, you can find us through Google searching and get our numbers there. Our Colorado Springs property management team will be ready to help you.
So, Paul, thanks again so much for your time.
Paul: You’re welcome.
Matthew is the CEO of Evernest. He is a student of the book Good to Great and is passionate about building the best property management company on the planet (and maybe even the universe if Elon Musk will hurry up). You can usually find Matthew at the baseball field with his son, at a dance recital with his daughter, or at his favorite restaurant with his wife, when he’s not in the office. And if you can’t find him in any of those places, it probably means he’s traveling.
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