Colorado Landlord's Right to Terminate for Substantial Violations

What Is a Substantial Violation in Colorado?

Colorado law aims to protect both landlords and tenants. The goal is to protect the masses even if that means having stricter rules for a few. Colorado Revised Statutes allows landlords to terminate a tenant’s rental agreement if the tenant has committed a substantial violation in or around the rental property. Learn what is considered a substantial violation and how quickly it allows a landlord to terminate a lease.

Implied Term of Every Colorado Lease

Colorado landlord tenant law makes it clear that even if it is not a stated term in the lease agreement, every lease that is signed between a landlord and tenant in the state, is signed under the implication that the tenant will not commit any substantial violations while residing in the rental unit. For the safety of all involved, including other tenants, neighbors and the community as a whole, the landlord has the ability to swiftly terminate the lease agreement of any tenant that has committed a substantial violation on or near the rental property.

What Is a Substantial Violation?

In Colorado, an act or serious of acts performed by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a guest of the tenant will be considered a substantial violation if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • Occurs on or near the property and endangers the person, the property, a co-tenant or co-tenants or anyone living on or near the premises.

    • Occurs on or near the property and is considered a violent or drug related felony that is prohibited under Title 18 of Colorado’s Revised Statutes.  


    • Occurs inside the actual dwelling unit of the tenant or in the property’s common area, hallway, parking lot, grounds or other area and constitutes a criminal act which violates federal, state or local law. It must also meet the following two criteria:

                                       1. The crime carries with it a possible incarceration of at least 180 days.

                                       2. Based on a state statute, it is considered a public nuisance under state or local law.

      Does the Landlord Have to Provide the Tenant With Notice to Quit?

      Yes, despite the lease being terminated for a substantial violation, the landlord must still follow certain protocol. Before the tenant’s lease can be terminated, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written Notice to Quit.

      What Additional Information Must the Notice to Quit Include?

      When the landlord sends the tenant the Notice to Quit, the landlord must also include the following information:

      • A Description of the Property
      • The Date and Time When the Tenancy Will Terminate
      • Under What Grounds the Tenancy Will Terminate
      • The Signature of the Landlord or the Landlord’s Agent

      How Must the Notice to Quit Be Delivered?

      A landlord has a few options for delivering a Notice to Quit to the Tenant. The landlord can hand the Notice directly to the tenant. A landlord can leave the Notice with another member of the tenant’s family, who must be above 15 years old, who also resides in the unit. If no one is available to receive the Notice, the landlord can place the Notice in an obvious place on the property where the tenant is sure to see it, such as at the tenant’s front door.

      How Long After Notice Is Lease Terminated?

      The lease agreement will terminate three days after the tenant receives the written Notice to Quit.

      Landlord Burden of Proof

      The burden of proving that the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a guest of the tenant committed a substantial violation on or near the property will lie with the landlord.

      Tenant Defenses to Substantial Violations

      Even if a substantial violation was committed on the property, a tenant may not be responsible in the following situations.

      • Knowledge:

      If the violation was committed by a guest of the tenant and the tenant had no way of knowing the violation was being committed or no way of stopping the violation, but as soon as the tenant knew about the violation, reported it to the proper authorities.

      • Domestic Violence:

      The substantial violation occurred as a result of domestic violence and the tenant was the victim of this violence.

      The landlord can still seek to terminate the lease agreement if the tenant was the perpetrator of the domestic violence.

      Colorado Law on Termination for Substantial Violations

      If you are interested in viewing the original text on Colorado’s law on terminating tenancy for substantial violations, please see Colorado Revised Statutes §13-40-107.5.