By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Some state lawmakers are coming together to help renters in Colorado. The state has among the harshest laws in the country with regard to late rent. You can be evicted for being three days late with rent.

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Charlene Valentine says she and her kids were kicked out of their apartment because she was $60 short in her rent payment.

“Sixty dollars short, and after that second day, they hit us with $250. They were just like, ‘You don’t have money. You have to move out. You have 48 hours to move out,'” Valentine said.

Rep. Dominique Jackson (credit: CBS)

A bill by Rep. Dominque Jackson would give tenants a 14-day grace period.

“What this bill would do is basically give people an extra paycheck. So many people live paycheck to paycheck to make up what they owe,” said Jackson.

Opponents including Rep. Lori Saine say the bill will hurt small family-owned complexes that can’t afford weeks without rent. An eviction process can take months.

Rep. Lori Saine (credit: CBS)

“Any increased regulation may cause those individuals not to those rent homes anymore which will decrease they supply of affordable housing,” Saine said.

But, Aubrey Hasvold with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless says the bill is about leveling the playing field.

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“Right now in Colorado, the scales are really tipped in favor of the landlords, and we’re not trying to tip those dramatically in the other direction. We just want to create a more balanced system,” she said.

Hasvold says eviction is the leading cause of homelessness in Colorado, especially for families like Valentines.

Eight months after she moved into her new apartment, she still can’t bring herself to unpack, to hang things on the wall, to shake the fear that at any moment the rug could be pulled out from under her.

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“I just feel like I’m not secure. If we would have had those extra days, it would have made so much of a difference.”

While the legislation gives tenants more time to pay rent, landlords can still charge them hefty late fees. It’s one of several “renter’s rights” bills this session.

Another bill would limit application fees to the actual cost of screening a prospective tenant. Both bills have failed in the past, but with Democrats in control at the State Capitol, they have a good shot of passing this year.

Shaun Boyd