No one ever wants to be in the position of breaking their lease, but sometimes life gets in the way of our best efforts. Each state has their own legal regulations regarding breaking a rental agreement. If you’re moving to Colorado here are some things you need to know before signing a lease.
Legal Repercussions of Breaking a Lease in Colorado
Both landlords and tenants have rights that provide protection under Colorado law. If you leave before the term of your lease is up without paying the remainder that’s considered a breach of the agreement and your landlord can take legal action. If you fail to follow other major specifications in the lease agreement it may also be considered a breach of contract.
When payment is the issue, Colorado Rev. Stat. § 13-40-104(1)(d) states that landlords must give the tenant three days notice to pay the rent before an eviction lawsuit is initiated. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-40-104(1)(e.5) states that if a renter continually breaks clauses in their lease agreement the landlord can issue an unconditional quit notice that requires that you to vacate immediately.
If you notify your landlord that you have to leave before the lease is up they are usually required to mitigate the damages by trying to find another renter as quickly as possible. You should also help mitigate damages by giving your landlord advance notice of your intention to leave and assisting in the search for a new renter.
Most renters are happy to help since you’ll be responsible for the payments and the landlord’s related expenses until another suitable renter is found. There could also be lease break fees to pay. The security deposit may be used to cover the cost of rent, fees and expenses in some cases. You’ll also want to provide assistance because if your landlord reports the contract breach your credit score could be negatively impacted.
Renters that fail to pay rent after breaking their lease could also wind up in court. Landlords have the right to initiate a lawsuit in small claims court to recoup the lost rent.
A Note About Subleasing
When you sublet to avoid breaking your lease there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that the lease may specify that the renter cannot sublease the property. Always get approval from your landlord before subletting.
There’s also another option that’s often better than a sublease. An assignment of lease is almost always the better option because all obligations are transferred to the new tenant.
When You Can Legally Break a Lease in Colorado
No matter where you live, if you are a member of the uniformed services and are activated for duty in another country or get reassigned to another station you can legally break your lease. All military members are protected by the War and National Defense Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C.A. §§ 501.
Living Conditions Are Unsafe
Anytime a landlord violates the local or state health and safety codes you have the right to leave. This is considered a “constructive eviction” since the landlord failed to provide safe living conditions that required you to leave. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-507 outlines the procedure renters must take to legally leave before the lease is up.
The Landlord Breaches the Contract
If your landlord tries to increase the rent before the term is up or violates the lease in another major way you may be able to get out of it without penalty.
Victim of Domestic Violence
Victims of domestic violence are also protected by the law if they have to move before their lease is over. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-12-402 states that you can terminate a lease early if domestic violence has been reported to the police.
The Landlord Violates Your Right to Privacy
If your landlord repeatedly violates your right to privacy it can also qualify as constructive eviction. Examples include repeatedly entering the home without notice, removing doors and changing the locks.
Getting Legal Help After Breaking a Lease
No matter what, it’s extremely important to read every word in the lease before signing. If you have to break you lease there are resources that can help you with the legalities. These organizations are focused on helping renters protect their rights and making sure they’re not treated unfairly.
If you feel you’re being discriminated against The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can help.
Local Housing Authority
Cities and counties throughout Colorado have local housing authorities that are tasked with helping renters find resources. There are also a variety of housing programs that can answer questions and provide assistance.
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