Lesson 4: How should landlords respond to a complaint?
Issues that might make a rental unit unsafe can be dangerous for renters and have legal consequences for a landlord. Colorado law requires landlords to ensure a rental unit does not have any health or safety issues before the unit is leased to a renter. Landlords should inspect and repair the unit before renting it out. If an issue or problems occurs after the renter has moved in, and if the landlord is responsible for fixing the issue, there is a strict timeline they must follow.
The Warranty of Habitability law is meant to keep rental units safe to live in. If a landlord breaks this law, there may be legal consequences for the landlord. If a landlord is notified about an issue they are responsible for fixing, they should take the situation very seriously.
After a landlord has received a written (email, letter, or text) complaint about an issue, there is a strict timeline they need to follow.
- 1.Respond to the renter within 24 hours and include:
- A plan for resolving the issue
- An estimate of when the work will start
- An estimate of when the work will be finished
- 2.Start fixing the issue within 96 hours (or 24 hours if it’s an emergency issue)
- 3.Finish fixing the issue quickly and without unnecessary delay
While it’s important to keep rental units maintained, landlords may not be responsible for fixing all issues. Landlords should review the issue to make sure that it qualifies as a breach of the Warranty of Habitability law.
Examples of things that make a home unsafe include:
- Plumbing Issues
- Electrical issues
- Water issues
- Heating issues
- Broken windows or doors
- Mold issues
- Health code violations
Landlords may not be responsible for fixing the issue if:
- The issue is the renter's fault
- The issue is outside the renter’s unit (like in a common area) and does not affect the renter’s unit
- The renter prevented the landlord (or anyone else) from repairing the issue
- The landlord is unable to fix the issue for reasons beyond their control
It’s important that landlords do not retaliate! Landlords should stay calm and work with the renter to fix the issue as soon as possible. Examples of illegal retaliation include:
- Increasing rent
- Decreasing services (like water or heating)
- Eviction or threatening to remove the renter
If a landlord retaliates against a renter for complaining about a Warranty of Habitability issue, the landlord can face legal and financial consequences.