Every lease agreement carries with it an implied warranty of habitability. That is, the landlord warrants to the tenant that the premises leased to the tenant for the purpose of habitation is in fact suitable for human habitation. This does not need to be written in your lease in order to be in effect; the implied warranty of habitability is implied in every lease agreement.
A landlord in breach of the warranty of habitability may have the lease terminated by the tenant if they fail to cure the breach. Colorado Revised Statute 38-12-507(1)(a) states that a tenant may give notice to a landlord that they intend to surrender the rental unit and terminate the lease agreement. However, if the landlord, within 5 business days of the receipt of the written notice sent by tenant, fixes or repairs the rental property or otherwise cures the breach through the payment of damages, then the rental agreement does not terminate. It is important to note that the tenant must surrender the premises if they are to allege that the rental agreement has been terminated due to a breach of the warranty of habitability.
Additionally, a tenant may assert a breach of the warranty of habitability in any Colorado action for eviction or Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer. If the tenant does assert a breach of the warranty by the landlord in their answer to an eviction, the court will require the tenant to pay into escrow the full amount of owed rent in order to hold until the court makes a decision in regard to the eviction.
Dealing with any potential breaches of the warranty of habitability is as quickly as possible is very important for both tenants and landlords. Waiting to report any conditions that could be a breach, or failing to respond in a timely manner to cure any alleged breach of the warranty of habitability can seriously hurt either party’s chances of success. Consulting with Colorado Leasing Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert can help you assess your chances of success in an action for a breach of the warranty of habitability and go through the judicial process of recovery. Nathaniel has helped landlords and tenants with evictions, written notices, and lease drafting and negotiation and can help you choose the right course of action in your lease agreement dispute.