Colorado lawmakers put into law what most people assume can happen when someone is doing something dangerous in a rental property - let the landlord terminate the agreement and evict the tenant. The law establishes the legal rights of landlords to terminate and evict when someone exhibits “violent and antisocial criminal acts” to not only protect their rental property but to protect the rights, safety, and peaceful enjoyment of co-tenants, neighbors, and the community as a whole.

Substantial Violation

What exactly is a substantial violation? The short answer is it is doing something illegal or extremely dangerous to property or others in or around the rental property. Specifically, the law describes the following as substantial violations:

  • occurs on or near the premises and endangers the person or willfully and substantially endangers the property of the landlord, and co-tenant, or any person living on or near the premises, or;
  • occurs on or near the premises and constitutes a violent or drug-related felony as defined by Colorado law, or;
  • occurs on the tenant's leased premises or the common areas, hallway, grounds, parking lot, or other area located in the same building or complex in which the tenant's leased premises are located and constitutes a criminal act in violation of federal or state law or local ordinance that (a) carries a potential sentence of incarceration of one hundred eighty days or more; and (b) has been declared to be a public nuisance under state law or local ordinance based on a state statute.
  • How To Terminate

    The burden of proof of the substantial violation is on the landlord, so document as best you can with times, dates, pictures if possible, and police reports.

    So, a substantial violation has occurred, you have the legal right to terminate, but how do you proceed? The burden of proof of the substantial violation is on the landlord, so document as best you can with times, dates, pictures if possible, and police reports. It is important to note that if the substantial violation was as the result of or caused by domestic violence or abuse to a tenant or a tenant’s child, then the landlord cannot proceed with a termination. However, the perpetrator of the violence (i.e. the abuser) can be removed from the premises and the lease agreement.

    Once you have determined that the substantial violation has occurred, the next step is to send a written notice to quit to the tenant(s), describing the property, the particular time when the tenancy will terminate, and the grounds for termination. The notice must be signed by the landlord or by the landlord's agent or attorney. Termination of the rental agreement is effective three days after service of notice to quit.

    Finally, if the tenant was unaware of the substantial violation, or could not have reasonably known of the violation by a guest or invitee but immediately notified a law enforcement officer once they were aware, then the landlord cannot proceed with a termination of the agreement.