If you own a property that you rent out, eviction of tenants is always a possibility. Eviction is the legal process where a landlord obtains a court order to forcibly remove the tenant and their possessions from a property.
In Colorado, a landlord of a property can only evict a tenant “for cause” or “without cause.” If the lease has not yet expired, the tenant can only be evicted for cause, usually non-payment of rent or violation of a condition of the lease. A tenancy can be terminated without cause if the lease has expired.
The initial eviction notice is called a demand for possession, and must be in writing and specify the grounds, describe the property, state the time when the tenant must leave, and be signed by the landlord. Specific reasons for the notice govern the length of time the tenant has to vacate. The notice must be served personally on the tenant or a member of the tenant’s family over 15 years of age or by posting if the tenant isn’t home or tries to evade service.
The court proceeding in an eviction case is started with a summons and complaint. The summons commands the defendant to appear in court at the time and date set in the summons by the landlord’s attorney. Typically, tenants have only a few days to respond to the summons after it has been served. The summons and complaint must be served on the defendant by a sheriff or other person over 18 who is not a party to the action. The summons can be given to anyone over 18 who lives at the same place, or by posting or mail.
The tenant may file an answer, and the answer must admit or deny the allegations of the complaint and present all the tenant’s defenses. The defendant also is required to assert any counterclaim, that is, any claim the tenant may have against the landlord at this time or risk losing the right to counterclaim. If the court accepts the tenant’s answer, it will set a trial date.
The trial date is usually within five business days. An eviction trial is governed by the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, the Colorado Rules of Evidence and the eviction statutes. Both parties make opening statements, call witnesses and make arguments. If the landlord wins, they will receive a Writ of Restitution and the sheriff will come and evict the tenant.
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