A lease is a legal contract that dictates both the landlord’s and tenant’s rights during the tenancy. That said there are circumstances that could result in that agreement being broken early.

Like many states, Colorado has its own set of rules when it comes to ending a lease agreement early. As a landlord, it’s important to be familiar with these rules and to know what conditions allow your tenants to break your lease. 

In this blog post, we will outline the legislation regarding ending a lease early and guide you through both your rights as a landlord and your tenants’ rights. 

Rental Agreement in Colorado

When you write a lease, it’s important to clearly outline all of the terms and conditions of the agreement. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your tenants are aware of the consequences regarding unjustifiably breaking the lease, as well as their right to justifiably break the lease under a specific set of circumstances. 

This agreement should include the amount of notice required from the tenant should they end their lease. In the state of Colorado, the amount of notice needed from a tenant wishing to end a lease is 91 days for a yearly lease, 28 days for 6 months-a year lease, 21 days for a monthly lease, and 3 days for a weekly lease.

landlord handing a lease agreement to a tenant

In the lease agreement, you should also outline your responsibility as a landlord to re-rent the unit. In Colorado, a landlord must make a reasonable effort to find another tenant for the property, rather than charging the tenant the remaining amount of rent due. 

If the rental home is filled with a new tenant quickly, then the prior tenant will only be responsible for paying the rent for any time the unit sat vacant in between tenants. 

Lastly, your lease agreement should include the tenant’s right to sublet the home. In Colorado, a sublet may only happen with your permission. To get approval from you to sublet the unit, the tenant needs to request this in writing. The request should include the following information:

  • Term of the sublet
  • Name and home address of the proposed subtenant
  • Reason for subletting and whether or not they plan to leave the unit permanently
  • The tenants’ new address (if applicable)
  • Written consent of the co-tenants (if applicable)
  • A copy of the sublease that is being proposed

Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Colorado

On their own, the following reasons for ending a lease early are not enough just to provide legal protection for the tenant if they fail to honor the lease agreement: 

  • The tenant has purchased a house of their own.
  • The tenant is moving for work or school.
  • The tenant wishes to upgrade or downgrade immediately.
  • The tenant wishes to move in with a partner or is relocating to be closer to their family.

lawyer working with a lady justice statue on the desk

If a tenant breaks a lease for any of the reasons listed above, then they may end up suffering legal consequences. If the tenant wishes to end the lease for any of the above reasons, the best approach would be to try to reach a mutual termination agreement with their landlord. 

Justified Reasons For a Tenant to Break a Lease

There are a few scenarios in which your tenant can legally break the lease agreement in Colorado.

Mutual or Early Termination Clause/ Agreement

Some leases may allow a renter to terminate their lease agreement early in exchange for a fee. It’s ultimately a landlord’s decision to include this in the lease. For example, this could be offered for a fee of 2 months’ rent and a notice of 30 days. 

In some cases, you and your tenant may mutually agree to end the lease agreement early. This can happen at any point in the lease, but it must be a mutual decision. If this occurs, put it in writing and have both parties sign the document to avoid potential legal trouble in the future. 

The Tenant is Starting Active Military Duty

If a tenant is an active member of the military and is relocated due to deployment or change in station, then they may be able to legally break the lease. 

military personnel in uniform talking to a group

The tenant must provide the following:

  • Proof that the lease was signed prior to entering active duty
  • Proof that the tenant will stay on active duty for at least the next 90 days
  • Written notice of the lease termination is delivered to the landlord, along with a copy of the orders to deploy or a letter from their commanding officer. 

While a tenant can legally terminate the lease early under these circumstances, it does not happen immediately. Once you have received your tenant’s notice, the lease will only end 30 days later. 

The Home is Uninhabitable

As a landlord, it’s important to keep the rental habitable. There are things to keep in mind when maintaining your property to ensure that your property always remains safe. Make sure to:

  • Waterproof and weatherize the rental
  • Keep the structure and utilities in functional condition
  • Provide running water and heating
  • Offer reasonably clean common areas
  • Carry out necessary pest control
  • Have consistent garbage removal
  • Provide functioning locks for all exterior doors
  • Comply with building and health codes
  • Privacy Violation or Harassment

Always respect your tenant’s privacy. While the state of Colorado does not clarify the amount of notice required for you to enter the rental, it’s recommended to provide at least 24 hours of notice. This will communicate respect for your tenants’ privacy and help you to build a positive relationship with them moving forward.

legal balance, judges gavel and house figurine on a desk

Domestic Violence

If a tenant is a victim of domestic violence and needs to move for their own safety, Colorado law allows them to break the lease and vacate the premises without being liable for more than one month’s rent.

Bottom Line

Now that you are familiar with some of Colorado’s regulations around breaking a lease, you can better navigate these situations should they arise. Make sure to ask to stay informed of security deposit laws, Colorado’s landlord-tenant laws, the Fair Housing laws, and the eviction process. 

If you have more questions regarding these topics or require any other help regarding your property management needs, reach out to Keyrenter Property Management Denver today!

Disclaimer: These laws are subject to change and therefore this post may not be up-to-date at the time you’re reading it. This post is not a substitute for professional legal advice from a licensed attorney.