When is a Rental Property Uninhabitable in Colorado? Landlord’s Breach of the Warranty of Habitability

As we’ve discussed before, a landlord has a duty to maintain the property they lease to tenants in a habitable manner or they face having the lease terminated by the tenant.  But what does the law consider to be a habitable premises or rather, what requirements exist under Colorado law for habitable rental properties?

Colorado Revised Statutes 38-12-505 sets forth 11 separate requirements for a rental property to be considered habitable.  Specifically, the statute states that a property will be deemed uninhabitable if it substantially lacks in any of the following requirements:

  1. Waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls maintained in good working order, including unbroken windows and doors; Plumbing or gas facilities that conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation and that are maintained in good working order
  2. Running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times furnished to appropriate fixtures and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law
  3. Functioning heating facilities that conformed to applicable law at the time of installation and that are maintained in good working order
  4. Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that conformed to applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order
  5. Common areas and areas under the control of the landlord that are kept reasonably clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, and garbage and that have appropriate extermination in response to the infestation of rodents or vermin
  6. Appropriate extermination in response to the infestation of rodents or vermin throughout a residential premises
  7. An adequate number of appropriate exterior receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in good repair
  8. Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair
  9. Locks on all exterior doors and locks or security devices on windows designed to be opened that are maintained in good working order
  10. Compliance with all applicable building, housing, and health codes, which, if violated, would constitute a condition that is dangerous or hazardous to a tenant's life, health, or safety

Landlords must remain compliant with Colorado law governing the requirements for a habitable premise as listed here. Of note, though, is the exception for common areas listed in CRS 38-12-505(2), where any deficiencies in the common areas do not qualify as rendering a property uninhabitable unless “it materially and substantially limits the tenant’s use of his or her dwelling or unit.” 

If you are a tenant in Colorado and believe that your landlord may be breaching the warranty of habitability or a landlord being accused of breaching the warranty of habitability, it is important that you consult with an attorney to determine your next step and the validity of any claims made by you or against you.  Denver Landlord Tenant Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert helps tenants and landlords with lease drafting and negotiation, evictions, and breach of lease enforcement in the Denver and greater Colorado area.  If you have questions about the possible breach of the warranty of habitability, consult with Nathaniel regarding your rights and defenses, and to make sure you take the proper steps to protect you, your family, and your property.