Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes
I’m here with Paul Farr. Hey, Paul. How are you?
Paul: Good, Matthew. How about yourself?
Matthew: I am doing great. Paul is with Springman, Brayden, Wilson, & Pontius P.C. and he is an eviction attorney and he and I are talking eviction mistakes today.
So Paul, you and I talked a little bit before this and we’re going to roll through five eviction mistakes that you see most often landlords make.
We’ll Jump Into Each One And Talk!
I’m going to read them off real fast and then we’ll jump into each one and talk about a little bit.
- The first one is taking money during the eviction process.
- Second one is improper notice.
- Third one is not having good documentation or records.
- Fourth one is trading work for rent.
- The last one is verbal promises, committing something to the tenant during the eviction process.
So let’s talk about it
The First One Is Taking Money During The Eviction Process, (Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes)
The first thing right off the top of your head you said when I asked you what are some mistakes people make, the first one was taking money during the eviction process.
Can you talk to us a little bit about that?
Paul: Sure. So let’s just take the typical demand for payment, you know, non-payment of rent.
You file an eviction case, you’ve served your demand, “Pay or move within 10 days.”
Pays In Full Within The 10 Day!
If the tenant pays in full within the 10 day period of time they’ve cured.
Or if they move within that 10 day period of time they’ve cured, there are no grounds for eviction.
But what can happen is the tenant offers, “Hey, I’ve got X amount of dollars.
Would you take it?” If a landlord takes that money, they’re done with that demand.
The landlord does not have to accept…at least here in Colorado, a landlord does not have to accept anything less than payment in full during that period of time.
10 Days Are Expired!
Once the 10 days are expired, landlord doesn’t have to accept any money.
Again, if they do then typically that’s a waiver.
You’ve done something affirmatively to reinstate the tenancy.
Matthew: All right, taking money, that was number one.
The Second One Is Improper Notice. (Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes)
When you start the eviction process with a tenant, you’re required to give a notice and you’re saying you see a lot of mistakes happen around the notice process.
Paul: That’s true. One of the most common is a bad address.
So the sheriff’s department, they can only supervise a move out on an address that’s on the writ of restitution.
If it turns out that the address on the writ of restitution is different than the actual address of the property.
Once the sheriff shows up, you got to start all over. So that’s actually a pretty common one.
There Are Sheriff’s Departments
Another thing would be a failure to add, say, you got a detached garage, you’ve got a detached storage shed or something like that or a garage unit and family.
So, you should note that on the demand because there are sheriff’s departments out there who say, “Look the address says this.
It doesn’t say anything about the detached garage, storage shed…”
Matthew: Wow. And so it’s so important that you get this thing started on the right foot because you don’t find that out until the end of the process.
Gone Through The Whole Process! (Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes)
I mean you’ve gone through the whole process and then at the very end.
The sheriff’s saying, “Hey, you essentially didn’t start this thing right and now I can’t get all their stuff out of the detached garage.”
Paul: Right. You got to start another eviction to get the stuff out of the garage.
The Third One Is Not Having Good Documentation Or Records.
Matthew: Wow. All right, next one is number three is all about documentation and records.
Showing up and, you know, just my word against their word that doesn’t typically work in Colorado eviction cases?
An Intermediate Level Trial Court!
Paul: No. These cases are, typically, they’re in an intermediate level trial court we call county court here.
They can be in the district but for the most part, we go with the intermediate level trial court.
Keep in mind tenants have the ability to dispute that landlords should have a possession judgment.
They Could File An Answer. (Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes)
They can file a counterclaim at the time of the initial court date and then the court has to set a hearing or a trial on the issue of possession.
One of the ways the landlord has to…the landlord bears the burden of proving their case.
More likely than not, the landlord is right.
One of the principal ways to do that is through business records.
So if all of your receipts are, at least what you got, stuffed into a shoebox.
Will Have Absolutely No Interest!
The judge or the magistrate will have absolutely no interest whatsoever in sifting through that shoebox full of stuff.
What they’re looking for is, you know, clean records, professional-looking invoices that may support the claims for damages and things like that.
And if you don’t have those then you can easily defeat the eviction process simply because you didn’t meet your burden.
Matthew: Yeah. I mean there’s nothing worse than being right but not being able to prove that you’re right and you show up and, you know, it doesn’t work.
That would be very frustrating.
Fourth One Is Trading Work For Rent. (Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes)
The next one, number four, and I saw this a lot when I was first getting started in the business, is like the landlord trading work for rent.
Talk to me about why that’s a gray area that causes so many problems in the eviction process.
Paul: Mostly because it’s one guy against the other. Did the work get done?
How much was the work worth?
If there was no writing and this is just some sort of oral agreement, many times tenants come into court and say, “Hey, you know, the guy said if I fix the window in the back, then I get a discount on my rent.
He Didn’t Give Me A Discount.” Then There’s A Fight About The Discount.
There are no records to back it up so you know trading work for rent is definitely a bad thing because it’s difficult to prove.
If you want your tenant…if they’re qualified to actually do work on the property for you, fine. Have a separate contract just like you would with any other contractor.
Matthew: Yeah, it’s okay for them to pay your rent and then for you to pay them back and have that money trail and scope of work.
That gets back to good records too. I mean the scope of work is pretty important.
But I will tell you I have never seen that workout, Paul.
All I’ve been doing this almost 13 years now and I’ve never seen trading work for rent, work.
I’ve rented thousands of houses and managed thousands of clients, never once has that worked so I’d warn people against that.
The Last One Is Verbal Promises, Committing Something To The Tenant During The Eviction Process.
Number five is making verbal promises throughout the eviction process. So talk a little bit about that.
Paul: Well, once the eviction starts, for example, let’s say we have a demand for compliance.
So get rid of the dog because the lease says no pets. The eviction case starts. Tenant says.
The eviction case hasn’t even started, the demand of 10 days to cure is gone.
Tenant says, you know, give me a few more days to get rid of the dog.
The Case Gets Filed! (Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes)
The landlord goes, “Okay I’ll give you till next Tuesday.” And then the case gets filed on Monday.
Tenant gets rid of the dog on Tuesday, goes into court, files an answer, says, “I shouldn’t be evicted, you know, I did what I was supposed to do.”
Landlord says, “Well, you didn’t get it done within 10 days.” The tenant says, “But you gave me an extra couple of days.”
That oral contract is going to be enforceable if the court believes that the tenant’s credible.
The Pendency Of An Eviction! (Top Five Colorado Eviction Mistakes)
And, you know, oral statements made during the pendency of an eviction, once that demand has been served, have to be very careful about what it is that you say or promise and, again, documentation is very critical.
It’s a good idea to keep correspondence logs, copies of the emails, copies of the texts if you choose to communicate by text, things like that.
And make sure that your people, if you’ve got staff, are advised to do the same.
Matthew: Awesome. This has been great.
This has been the top five eviction mistakes that Paul sees in Colorado.
Paul Farr and me, Matthew Whittaker, with GK Houses would both love to help you if you have specific questions about your situation.
We would love to help you with that. We’re at GK Houses. We’re a property management company here in Colorado and Paul Farr is a eviction attorney in Colorado.
Paul, thank you so much for joining us. This has been super helpful.
Paul: You’re welcome.