q We support legislation to protect tenants from unsafe housing - Denver Foundation

We support legislation to protect tenants from unsafe housing

April 9, 2024

Updated April 16, 2024

Legislation to Better Protect Tenants From Unsafe Housing Heads to Governor Polis’ Desk for Signature

SB24-094 Now Moves to the Colorado House for Consideration

Denver—Today, the Senate approved amendments to the Warranty of Habitability legislation, SB24-094, which passed the House yesterday by a 40-20 vote. The legislation will protect renters’ rights to safe and healthy living conditions. It now heads to Governor Polis’ desk. The bill will take effect immediately after it becomes law.

Senate Bill 24-094, sponsored by sReps. Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora, and Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, along with Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, would ensure Colorado tenants can easily use the state’s existing Warranty of Habitability Law to address health and safety hazards in their housing.

Colorado’s existing Warranty of Habitability law requires landlords to maintain minimum standards for safe and healthy housing, but the law is not working as intended. Current law makes it difficult for tenants to request repairs from landlords—including repairs to address health hazards such as mold, sewage leaks, extreme heat, and lack of elevator access. These conditions can dramatically affect the quality of life for anyone, but for children, older adults, and people with disabilities, they can be devastating.

“Throughout the state, many counties where people are at the highest risk are also the least prepared for the health impacts of climate change. This bill will help protect our fellow Coloradans from the devastating impacts of climate change by ensuring they live in homes with adequate cooling. Now is the time to ensure that we update our state’s law to address the realities of our changing state,” said Naomi Amaha, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at The Denver Foundation.

“We’re thrilled that SB24-094 is headed to the Governor’s desk. This legislation will make it easier for Colorado renters to leverage their right to safe, livable housing. Renters too often face ongoing significant health and safety risks in their home—the very place where they should feel safe and secure. With this bill’s passage, we are closer to having a Warranty of Habitability law that truly works for tenants and protects them as intended,” said Melissa Mejía, Head of State & Local Policy, Community Economic Defense Project.

“We’re so pleased to see this bill make its way to our colleagues in the Colorado House of Representatives. No Coloradan should live in a home with mold or sewage leaks and no access to running water or hot water. This bill clarifies the rights and responsibilities for both tenants and landlords,” said Senator Tony Exum.

“We have a Warranty of Habitability standard in Colorado to ensure our communities live in safe housing, but unfortunately, the law is not working as intended. I hear from constituents suffering from unsafe conditions who are not able to get the issue fixed and are forced to remain in their home and deal with the conditions. Tenants in my district are experiencing everything from infestations, mold that is harmful for families to breathe in, and no heating or cooling for extended periods of time. More often than not, these households fear intimidation tactics from their landlord that prevent them from taking action. It is beyond time for us to update and clarify the statute, and I’m thankful to my colleagues for moving this bill over to the House,” said Senator Julie Gonzales

“No one should become sick or hospitalized due to unsafe living conditions. We could not be more excited to see this bill move forward and for Colorado to be one step closer to ensuring safe and healthy housing is available to all tenants,”  said Jack Regenbogen, Deputy Executive Director of Colorado Poverty Law Project

This bill will:

  • Set reasonable notice requirements so tenants don’t need to pay an attorney to ask landlords to address issues.
  • Set presumptive timeframes for completing repairs and remediation, which can also remain flexible for landlords to adapt to unforeseen issues.
  • Clarify the process for when landlords must provide alternative lodging arrangements while they work to complete repair. 
  • Establish policies to allow tenants to use their own appropriate cooling in extreme heat.
  • Outline appropriate legal remedies if a rental becomes uninhabitable. 

The Colorado Poverty Law Project (CPLP), Community Economic Defense Project (CEDP), and The Denver Foundation support this bill. It is also supported by Towards Justice and other organizations.

CEDP partners with low-income and working people to build economic and racial equity. We do this by confronting economic abuse and investing in community wealth. We use an ever-evolving set of legal, economic, and advocacy tools to challenge and dismantle unjust systems, building quickly toward a world where all people have what they need to live and thrive.

The Denver Foundation is a community foundation that inspires people and mobilizes resources to improve life in Metro Denver. In 2023, the foundation and its donors awarded a record $140 million in grants. The Denver Foundation has three roles: stewarding an endowment to meet current and future needs for Metro Denver, working with community leaders to address the core challenges that face the community, and managing more than 1,000 charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, and businesses. 

The Colorado Poverty Law Project is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent homelessness through free legal assistance, housing navigation, community education, and advocacy. We believe that no one should become homeless for lack of access to housing justice.

A fact sheet on the bill is available HERE.

The final bill text is available HERE.

CONTACT: Kate Countryman (CEDP) (720) 746-8660