Colorado’s New Warranty of Habitability Law
Residential Tenants Health and Safety Act, House Bill 1170 just passed in Colorado and it provides more protections to tenants under the residential warranty of habitability. What is a warranty of habitability? Generally speaking, it is a warranty from the landlord to the tenant that the rental property is going to be habitable and/or a safe place to live.
Before HB 1170 passed, a landlord could be found to have breached the implied warranty of habitability that is in every residential lease if the property being rented was uninhabitable or unfit to live in, such as having a hazardous condition to the tenant’s life, health or safety, and if the landlord failed to cure the problem within a reasonable time after receiving written notice from the tenant. What the new law does is (1) it allows the tenant to email the written notice to the Landlord of the problem that the tenant thinks makes the rental property unfit, and (2) it gives the landlord specific timeframes within which to respond to the tenant’s notice. The landlord now only has (1) 24 hours to respond if the condition is materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant’s life, health or safety, or (2) 72 hours where the premises is only uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation.
The new law also adds two specific conditions that make a residential property uninhabitable: (1) where the rental property lacks functioning appliances that conform to the applicable law and are maintained in good working order, or (2) where there is mold that is associated with dampness, or there is any other condition causing the premises to be damp, which if not fixed, would materially interfere with the health or safety of the tenant.
What does a landlord have to do under this new law after receiving notice of a condition that is hazardous to the life, health or safety of the tenant? If requested by the tenant, the landlord has to move the tenant to a comparable property that the landlord selects or to a hotel room that the landlord selects. Who pays for the hotel or comparable dwelling unit? The landlord has to pay for it. What if the lease says that the tenant is assuming certain responsibilities regarding the condition of the rental property? The bill generally makes those provisions in a lease unlawful with an exception for single-family residences (where the landlord does not receive any governmental subsidy) to allow the landlord and tenant to agree in writing to allocate specific repairs, maintenance tasks or other matters subject to requirements. The bill has many other components and this article is not meant to cover the entire bill comprehensively. Please contact me with any questions. A summary of the bill is available here. For news coverage click here.