Colo. bill requires landlords to provide heat, water |

Colo. bill requires landlords to provide heat, water

DENVER – Landlords would be required to provide heat, water and other basics under a measure given initial backing by the Colorado state Senate on Monday.Tenants would be able to withhold the rent if landlords fail to fix serious problems after two written notices.Backers said Colorado and Arkansas are the only two states that don’t have a legal definition of what makes a rental property habitable. Sens. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, and Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, said changing the law to spell that out won’t hurt landlords who keep their properties up.”This should make every slumlord get on notice that they cannot treat people as they have been doing,” Tupa said.House Bill 1356 would also require landlords to make sure their buildings have doors with working locks and to provide extermination services if the building is infested by rodents.Tenants could go to court to try to force landlords to fix the property or let them out of a lease. Tenants who had been withholding rent would have to make the payments to the court.Tenants could also move out and terminate a lease if landlords fail to fix problems after two written notices.Landlords would be barred from retaliating against tenants who file a complaint by raising their rent or cutting off services.The measure also requires that tenants keep units clean and not disturb their neighbors or deface the unit.Bills protecting tenants rights have failed for years. This year, the Ritter administration hired a professional mediator to help craft the bill, which Republicans criticized as a waste of money.The Colorado Apartment Association participated in the negotiations but still wants changes to protect against what it sees as potential abuses of the system, said Daniel Sung, the association’s vice president of government affairs.For example, Sung said landlords could feel pressured to renew a lease for fear of a lawsuit.

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