As tenants in Colorado, it’s crucial to stay informed about the laws that affect your rights and responsibilities. The recent Senate Bill 23-184 introduces several significant changes aimed at strengthening tenant protections. Here’s an easy-to-understand breakdown of what this new legislation means for you.

1. Restrictions on Landlord Background Checks:

  • Your Past Doesn’t Define You: Landlords can no longer delve into your rental or credit history beyond seven years. This change means that older financial difficulties or housing issues won’t unfairly impact your current rental applications.

2. Income and Subsidy Considerations:

  • Income Sources: If you receive housing subsidies, landlords cannot discriminate based on the amount of your income or your credit score, with a few exceptions. This provision helps ensure that your application is judged fairly, regardless of your income source.
  • Income Thresholds: For those without subsidies, your income needs to be at least 200% of the annual rent. This rule is designed to prevent unrealistic income expectations from landlords.

3. Income-Restricted Units:

  • Special Cases: Landlords managing income-restricted units (like affordable housing) can still check financial information to verify eligibility. This exception is necessary to maintain the integrity of income-based housing programs.

4. Penalties for Discrimination:

  • Legal Protections: Any violation of these new rules is considered discriminatory. If your landlord breaches these terms, they may face legal consequences, including penalties and the potential to pay your attorney fees.

5. Security Deposit Limit:

  • Cap on Deposits: Now, landlords can only ask for up to two months’ rent as a security deposit. This cap makes moving into a new rental more affordable and prevents exorbitant upfront costs.

6. Defending Against Eviction:

  • A New Defense: If your landlord tries to evict you and they have violated these housing laws, you can use this as a defense in court. This addition is a significant empowerment for tenants facing unjust eviction.

7. Effective Dates and Applicability:

  • Know the Timeline: These changes are not retroactive but apply to any actions by landlords from the date the law comes into effect. Keeping track of these dates is crucial to understanding your rights.

Key Takeaways for Tenants:

  • You’re Protected: These new laws offer more robust protections against discrimination and unfair practices.
  • Be Informed: Understanding these changes helps you stand up for your rights and ensures fair treatment in the rental market.
  • Legal Recourse: If you face issues, remember that these laws provide you avenues for legal action and defense.

This legislative change marks a significant step forward in tenant rights and protections in Colorado. Staying informed and understanding your rights under these new provisions is key to navigating the rental market confidently and securely.