When Is A Tenant Responsible For Maintenance of a Rental Property?

A landlord assumes many responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep of the premises of a rental property.  However, through certain statutory obligations as well as provisions in the lease agreement, many duties are delegated to the tenant on the property.  The statutory obligations are found in Colorado Revised Statutes dealing with tenant obligations to maintain property, CRS 38-12-504, while any other obligations you assume as tenant to the property are found in your lease or accompanying documentation for your rental agreement.

The overarching duty provided by Colorado Landlord Tenant Statutes is the tenant’s duty to use that portion of the premises within the tenant's control in a reasonably clean and safe manner.  This is a general duty imposed upon tenants occupying rental property in Colorado, whether commercial, residential, or agricultural.  But what does that mean specifically?  The Statute actually goes on to list certain specific duties that the tenant assumes by virtue of being a tenant:

  1. Comply with obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building, health, and housing codes materially affecting health and safety
  2. Keep the dwelling unit reasonably clean, safe, and sanitary as permitted by the conditions of the unit
  3. Dispose of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste from the dwelling unit in a clean, safe, sanitary, and legally compliant manner
  4. Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, elevators, and other facilities and appliances in the dwelling unit
  5. Conduct himself or herself and require other persons in the residential premises within the tenant's control to conduct themselves in a manner that does not disturb their neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of the neighbors' dwelling unit
  6. Promptly notify the landlord if the residential premises is uninhabitable as defined in the section on the Warranty of Habitability or if there is a condition that could result in the premises becoming uninhabitable if not remedied

Failing to maintain these standards can be used as evidence of a breach of the lease agreement in the same way that a landlord who fails to maintain the premises so that they are habitable is in breach of the lease.  In addition to these standards, tenants also have a responsibility to not knowingly, intentionally, deliberately, or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the residential premises or knowingly permit any person within his or her control to do so.

Tenants signing leases should understand their obligations under the lease agreement as well as under Colorado Landlord Tenant Law.  These requirements may not actually be listed in your lease agreement, but each tenant is nonetheless bound by these requirements and must adhere to them or risk losing their rental property in an eviction proceeding.  Prior to signing your residential, commercial, agricultural, or recreational lease agreement, consult with an attorney about any obligations you feel might be difficult to comply with or that you do not fully understand.  Colorado Landlord Tenant Lawyer Nathaniel Gilbert has helped tenants and landlords with lease review and negotiation, evictions, and enforcement, and can help you when evaluating your lease and the obligations you face while bound by its terms.