DENVER (CBS4) – A new law in Colorado takes effect Friday changing several policies related to evictions including the timing and penalties as well as late fee regulations and rights related to maintenance issues. The new set of regulations comes weeks after a national eviction mortarium was blocked by the Supreme Court.
“We have seen a strong need still out there, it has slowed down a little bit but I know there are more concerns on the horizon,” said Patrick Noonan, manager at Colorado Housing Connects. “The changes that are coming to Colorado law will give tenants more time to apply and seek the assistance that they need to avoid eviction.”
Noonan says the new law will overhaul the eviction process and change the relationship between tenants and landlords. Evictions are down and the trend continues to drop, according to the Colorado Apartment Association. The organization reports evictions were at 63 percent of normal for August, the last month will complete data for the entire state. Evictions filed for August were 2,285 compared to a normal amount of 4,000, the Association explained.
“That’s a real testament to just housing providers and residents working together to keep people housed and shows that the housing ecosystem here in Colorado is much, much stronger than people were predicting,” said Drew Hamrick, the general counsel for the Association. “The reason for it is nobody wants one, you know, a housing provider doesn’t make any money on an empty unit and a resident wants to keep their unit as long as they want to live there so everybody’s working really hard to avoid one.”
Colorado’s Division of Housing, which is part of the Department of Local Affairs says payments continue to go out each week averaging $6 million. The amount has doubled since the state made the system electronic using Bill.com, staff explained to CBS4. So far 51,482 payments have been made totaling $163,085,200.
“My biggest concern is where the economy heads and how the Delta variant impacts people’s living,” Noonan told CBS4. “A lot of people will be facing eviction as we head into winter, and nobody wants that.”
He says with unemployment benefits ending and some families choosing to move in with loved ones to avoid an eviction, the statistics don’t capture the potential financial stress people will face this fall. He thinks the impact of the mortarium on evictions created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be minimal now but that could change by the end of the year.
“The trend is going down, the trend is at historic low levels, and that’s good news for everybody,” Hamrick said to CBS4. “People should be shocked at how few times a housing provider and a resident have to go to court in the state given how big the state is.”
Some nonprofits are reporting that more than 30 percentage of people who applied have not gotten money because their application was incomplete or denied. Almost 40 percent are waiting on money that has already been approved but not paid, according to the Neighborhood Development Collaborative. Leaders at the NDC point out the total amount of money still available is in the hundreds of millions of dollars but smaller that some figures because funds not received have already been allocated.
The eviction process can take three months to complete and all but 15 percent settle before a court decision, according to Hamrick. He says that suggests the eviction trend should remain low for the rest of the year. Housing advocates agree with him that more people should apply as a large amount of money remains available.
“There’s just no reason someone should be losing housing over at least COVID related financial stress with that program in place,” Hamrick said.
Noonan says there will be a workshop for understanding eviction legal protection on Wednesday, Oct. 6 on coloradohousingconnects.org.