First eviction in Colorado, do I NEED a lawyer?

12 Replies

I have a question for you landlords out there. On 11/1 I closed on an apartment building. One of the tenants did not pay rent.

My intent is not to renew their lease and I have already let them know in writing. I contacted the renter on 11/5 (as soon as I could get them to respond) and they stated that they thought I would take their deposit when they move out and thus they didnt pay rent. I think they ASSume that this is ok. The rent due is $675 and the tenant is on a month-to-month lease (previous lease with previous owner expired in July 2019).

I served them with the Demand for Compliance or right to possession notice (JDF101) on 11/6. Now I have to wait 10 days from 11/6. At this time I have a couple questions:

  1. Do I NEED a lawyer, or can I pull this off on my own? If I do need a lawyer, is there a lawyer anyone would recommend in the Denver area?
  2. How long to the courts usually take to schedule a court date (once I submit paperwork).

Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

    You can try to evict but if they fight it they'll probably be there longer, it is not acceptable for tenants to do this but it is fairly common.

    Doug:

    If they will voluntarily move per your demand, why are you going through all this? Go ahead and use their deposit as rent, that is your right, and move on - save yourself the headache and expense of a meaningless eviction.

    If they are refusing to leave, do not do an eviction yourself. Hire a company that does these. There are too many possible errors an inexperienced may make which can nullify the entire process.

    If you need to move forward with the eviction, hire an attorney and make sure any and all notices you have already posted are reviewed for errors.  Here in California, mistakes on your 3 day notice to perform or quit can tank your eviction and make you liable for damages to the tenant. The SD is to protect you from damage to the unit, not serve as last months rent. Your lease should state that clearly.

    I've never been through the process myself, but most investors I know do their own evictions. I'm in OH, and I'm told our eviction process is fairly straightforward and easy to navigate. You need to do your own due diligence regarding your state's process. 

    Originally posted by @Daniel Haggar :

    I have a question for you landlords out there. On 11/1 I closed on an apartment building. One of the tenants did not pay rent.

    My intent is not to renew their lease and I have already let them know in writing. I contacted the renter on 11/5 (as soon as I could get them to respond) and they stated that they thought I would take their deposit when they move out and thus they didnt pay rent. I think they ASSume that this is ok. The rent due is $675 and the tenant is on a month-to-month lease (previous lease with previous owner expired in July 2019).

    I served them with the Demand for Compliance or right to possession notice (JDF101) on 11/6. Now I have to wait 10 days from 11/6. At this time I have a couple questions:

    1. Do I NEED a lawyer, or can I pull this off on my own? If I do need a lawyer, is there a lawyer anyone would recommend in the Denver area?
    2. How long to the courts usually take to schedule a court date (once I submit paperwork).

    Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.  

      I’m a little confused by your post because it’s unclear if they’re planning on moving out and just didn’t give you the last months rent or if they’re playing hardball and refusing to pay while also refusing to leave. Either way, no you don’t NEED a lawyer. I’m sure having one would make life easier but of course you’ll pay for that luxury. I’ve evicted a few tenants for non-payment here in CO before (in Boulder County as well as in Lakewood/Jeffco) without using a lawyer and I found it very simple and straightforward. Court was somewhat time-consuming filling out paperwork and waiting to be called, but I found it somewhat interesting as I haven’t spent much time in court before thankfully (although also a little depressing). Sounds like you have a pretty straight-forward eviction case as the tenant didn’t pay rent. The judge might ask you to go into mediation before granting an eviction but all you have to say is, “I’d like to have possession of this unit as soon as possible so I can find a more responsible tenant that pays rent”/ remodel the unit/ have my cousin move in/ whatever your reason to not renew is. Just be sure to follow the eviction procedures EXACTLY as they are described on the court website for you jurisdiction: serve the notices exactly as the court requires usually posting them as well as sending a certified letter, don’t deviate from the court website instructions, don’t accept partial payments, don’t do anything stupid like “self-eviction” stuff changing the locks, strong arming, threatening, moving them out when they’re at work etc., and you should be fine. Once you’ve filed the paperwork the court date will be scheduled, usually within 5-10 days, in Boulder they’re every Friday I forget what Jeffco does. One time I did have to wait an extra week because of Thanksgiving but even then the whole process only took about 2.5 weeks. There are a lot of other landlords in court, a few PMs there on behalf of landlords, and only a small percentage of lawyers/paralegals so it seems many people do DIY evictions here. In my experience judges don’t let tenants give excuses they just ask if they paid rent and if the tenant says “No, but...” the judge cuts them off and the next question is “Will you be out within 24 hours or do I need to send the sheriff to forcibly remove you.” If the tenant refuses to leave, the sheriff will remove them. Anything they leave behind is considered abandoned property and you don’t have to keep it or store it for them or anything like in other states. Be sure to read through the whole court website for your jurisdiction as it’s been a few years since I’ve gone through the process and I’m sure some things have changed. Not legal advice I’m not a lawyer. Good luck!

      @Daniel Haggar , hiring a lawyer depends on your risk tolerance.

      If I understand correctly, the tenants are moving out but didn't their last months rent.  

      • Clarify Lease:  You must honor the prior lease agreement, so make sure to read it in case it states differently the last months payment.  Sometimes people collected 'last months rent, upfront'; that's typically a bad decision.  Make sure you read their lease.
      • Hardball:  I can't tell if you're playing hardball and using the threat of eviction to accelerate their move-out.  If so, then you don't need a lawyer.  If they refuse to lease then be prepared to switch from hardball to real-ball quickly and get a lawyer.
      • Cost Validation:  Something to consider is if it's worth spending legal fees to collect last months rent.  If it's $675 that you're currently out of and the tenant is moving out this month, I personally wouldn't be able to justify the cost of legal fees.  Only you know the likelihood of every scenario so weigh your options here.

      I do not believe the tenants were planning to move out at the end of the month but who knows! The tenants are complete slobs and they wouldnt be there if the previous landlord had done his due diligence, I no longer want them living there. It seems not paying rent is something this tenant has done many times in the past. At this stage they just need to go and I'm NOT going to let them slide. The previous lease expired before I acquired the property and according to CO state law, in the absence of a formally signed lease there is a month-to-month agreement (which expired on 11/1/19 which was the date we closed)

      Steve K, thank you for your reply! I think I'll try to tackle this on my own as the amount of rent I'm chasing isnt that much. It is more the principle of the matter for me (as well as getting them out). I also appreciate you letting me know what to expect in terms of timing. This eviction is in Adams county (brighton). I'll follow the instructions to the "T" although they are somewhat cryptic and hard to understand. 

      Find out who the local magistrate is and ask fellow landlords if they have dealt with him or her and if the judge tends to be tenant friendly or landlord friendly. 

      I evicted a tenant myself and I'm happy to say the judge is common sense friendly. I was told he was a straight-shooter (which are my favorite type of people). 

      I went in with my evidence and the hearing lasted under 10 minutes (I didn't even get to show my mountain of evidence as the tenant admitted he owed me money and that was that). 

      I got my judgement and the eviction process was not as bad as I thought it would be (the tenants didn't move out when they were supposed to and now I legally own all their things - bonus!).

      Some people on BP act like evicting someone is brain surgery and one must hire a professional - it's not hard to do. And it's an excuse to dress up and wear nice shoes! :-)

      Originally posted by @Daniel Haggar :

      . This eviction is in Adams county (brighton). I'll follow the instructions to the "T" although they are somewhat cryptic and hard to understand. 

      Call the attorney I linked above even if you are trying it yourself. Their website has all the forms and everything lined out. IF you don't do it correctly, then the tenants can EASILY stay longer if they want a fight.

      Have you thought about "Cash for Keys?" I've used it in the past with much success. It stings a bit, but then you get moving a lot faster. Order a dumpster and have a condition being that the home is "broom clean." Then hand them cash when you are satisfied. 

      When I evicted a tenant for the first time, I hired a lawyer. However, I asked a lot of questions and paid close attention to the process. I regarded the legal fee as a tuition fee. After going through the process with him, I was confident enough to do future evictions on my own. 

      Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

      Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

      Start here