If you or someone you know is at risk of eviction in Denver, don’t panic! You might well have more options than you think.
Until June 30th, 2021 a CDC order enacting a federal ban on evictions for nonpayment of rent is still in effect. If it is extended on that date, your home may still be covered past that point as well. But this is an opt-in protection and you must take action to take advantage of it! You can find the declaration you’ll need to submit and instructions on how to do so as well as information about other organizations that may be able to help you here, courtesy of the Denver Democratic Socialists Of America (DSA). Also note that the moratorium can only prevent you from being evicted but does not erase your debt to your landlord.
While additional protections previously existed at the state level, they were permitted to expire on January 1st, 2021 instead of being extended. Learn more and urge Colorado governor Jared Polis to reinstate them here.
You can also find additional resources for free legal representation, court access information, and rental assistance here.
An overview of the eviction process in Denver:
- Tenants receive the first notice, a demand for payment or possession, on their door. This is not an eviction notice! This is the point at which the NEWR initiative would kick in to require tenants to be informed of their right to counsel, but they are not yet actually in the court system. This is because a mere threat of eviction is in practice often treated as an eviction and tenants who cannot pay frequently leave uncontested during this period out of fear. Don’t let your landlord bully you, you have rights!
- After at least 10 days (often 30), tenants can be given a second notice including a summons with a court date. This is the date by which they would need to file an Answer if they are intending to dispute the eviction. If you’re unable to pay your rent debt, we highly recommend that you seek legal representation as early as possible and file an Answer.
- If tenants don’t appear in court or file an Answer (which most don’t) the judge will automatically rule a default judgement in favor of the landlord at their first court date. If tenants do appear in court, they (or their attorney) will begin to negotiate with the landlord and the case may proceed to trial at a later date. Even in cases where the eviction is valid, a lawyer may still be able to negotiate an out of court settlement or nonjudgment stipulation. If the landlord wins the case in court however, the tenant will get an eviction on their record. This is what you want to avoid.
- To actually perform an eviction, the landlord still must then request a Writ Of Restitution from the court and deliver it to the County Sheriff’s Office. Then a representative of the Sheriff will set a date to arrive at the tenant’s residence with the landlord to physically evict them. This is the only time at which the landlord can legally force the tenant out or remove their property, but many instead count on the tenant’s ignorance of this process to attempt an illegal eviction well before this point. Knowing your rights and getting help could prevent an illegal eviction from happening!
If you have other questions, are afraid you might be the subject of an illegal eviction attempt, or need help finding the right resource, feel free to call the DSA’s eviction defense hotline @ 720-627-7732 from 8am-9pm.
NO EVICTION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION BALLOT LANGUAGE
RIGHT TO COUNSEL NATIONWIDE
The Right to Counsel movement is nationwide. Groups from Boulder to San Francisco to New York City have fought for and won legal representation for tenants facing eviction. Read about their victories:
Securing Tenants’ Right to Counsel is Critical to Fighting Mass Evictions, Ian S. Thompson, American Civil Liberties Union
Facing Eviction Alone: A Study of Evictions in Denver, Colorado, Aubrey Hasvold, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless & Jack Regenbogen, Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
Right to Counsel and Stronger Rent Laws Helped Reduce Evictions in 2019, Oksana Mironova, Community Service Society
Why a Right, The Right to Counsel and the Ecology of Housing Justice, Andrew Scherer, Impact Center for Public Interest Law
The Fight for Justice in Housing Court, From the Bronx to A Right to Counsel for All New York City Tenants, Susanna Blankley, Community Action for Safe Apartments
$320 Million Saved Every Year: Highlights of SRR’sCost/Benefit Analysis for Intro 214-A, the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition