Colorado’s latest pandemic tenant protection ends, but new law could help fill in the gaps
With a Sunday executive order, Colorado Governor Jared Polis ended the state’s remaining pandemic-era protections for tenants, which had been in place since August.
The protections had forced landlords to give some tenants more time to catch up on their payments before filing an eviction. Under a previous Polis decree, a tenant who had requested emergency rental assistance was to be given a 30-day “demand period” to reimburse the rent owed, instead of the usual 10-day demand period required by state law – if the tenant had requested assistance prior to the August 1 and that his request was still pending.
As of Sunday, landlords are only required to give 10 days’ notice before filing an eviction, whether or not the tenant has requested rent assistance.
However, a new state law offers some relief to tenants.
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Until the passage of Senate Bill 21-173 this year, landlords were not required to accept rent owed after an eviction was filed with the courts. The new law – sponsored by the Senses. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, as well as Reps Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver – allows tenants to pay off their rent anytime before a court order a writ of restitution, which is the document that allows a sheriff to evict someone from the premises. Polis promulgated SB-173 in June.
It normally takes about a month between the filing of the deportation request and the restitution order, but the time frame can vary widely depending on a number of other factors, said Zach Neumann, executive director of the COVID-19 Deportation Defense Project.
So, thanks to SB-173, tenants in Colorado could have additional weeks to pay off rent owed after their landlord files the first eviction documents. This may seem to make up for the loss of tenant protections that Polis ended on Sunday, but Neumann isn’t so sure.
“It’s hard to say, but it feels like you’re trading that extended application period for a fairly similar amount of time to make payment through the court process,” he said. “The difference, however, is that the time on the front-end is perhaps a little more precious.”
To pay off the rent owed now and avoid a default judgment that could end in an eviction, tenants must file a response to the eviction case and attend a court hearing, Neumann explained. “I think for many clients this process can be very confusing,” said Neumann, whose organization helps people facing eviction with legal advice and representation.
In the meantime, thousands of emergency aid requests are still pending with the state, although the backlog has subsided somewhat.
As of September 22, the Department of Local Affairs had approved 42,995 requests for emergency housing assistance, totaling $ 168 million, according to a online dashboard. Another 2,050 requests were under consideration and 5,213 requests lacked information. In addition to this, 1,697 requests for assistance were still pending.
Steven Cordova is the executive director of Total Concept, a nonprofit organization that helps the state distribute emergency rental and housing assistance in Southeast Colorado. He called the end of the prolonged demand period a “natural evolution”.
“We have to keep moving forward and moving forward,” Cordova said. “There are still resources. Families and individuals need access to these resources that still exist.
Sharing student data
In addition to ending the 30 day request period for tenants, Polis’ Sunday decree speeds up the pre-disciplinary process for state officials who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which means they could get shot faster for non-compliance. State employees must be fully immunized against COVID-19 or get tested.
The order also directs the Colorado Department of Education to share certain student data with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The data sharing portion of the order requests that the CDE and CDPHE work together to ensure they have enough student data to track immunization status and monitor disease in K-12 schools, according to a spokesperson for CDPHE. This will likely involve the use of data on student demographics and school enrollments, the spokesperson said in an email.
“In order to ensure a unique match and maintain security, we usually need multiple pieces of data, such as name (date of birth), address, parent’s name, phone number, etc. “said the spokesperson. “This is especially important because sometimes a student may have the same name or date of birth as other students, for example. “
“This data sharing is necessary in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health and safety of our student population,” said the executive decree, adding that federal law “allows such data sharing with individuals appropriate in the context of an emergency if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others.
Polis’ executive order also ended a temporary suspension of the state’s obligation for people under the age of 21 to renew their Colorado driver’s license in person. Coloradians under the age of 21 must again visit a Division of Motor Vehicles store in person to renew their license.
While Sunday’s order theoretically ended a similar rule suspension for people 66 and older – who couldn’t renew their driver’s licenses online before the pandemic – a 2021 State Law removed the upper age limit for online license renewals. However, Coloradans over 80 who renew their license electronically must download from myDMV.colorado.gov a signed statement from an optometrist or ophthalmologist stating that they have had an eye exam within the past six months.
“Thanks to the efforts of all Coloradans, the time for extraordinary executive action has passed,” Polis wrote in the order. “The state has made huge strides in containing and treating the infection and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. “