What to Do About Infestations

Bugs & Pests: Infestations and Colorado’s Warranty of Habitability

 

By law, every residential lease in Colorado includes a “Warranty of Habitability.”  The Warranty of Habitability requires landlords to maintain living spaces they rent out up to some basic standards.  The law requires that rental units are to be generally safe and “fit for human habitation.”  

 

What about bed bugs?

Colorado has a specific set of laws regarding bed bugs.  This information sheet will not address bed bugs specifically.  

 

What are my landlord’s duties?

If you have an infestation of vermin or rodents, there are several guarantees under the Warranty of Habitability that your landlord may violating.  Among other things, in every residential lease in Colorado, whether in writing or not, a landlord promises to provide:

  • Waterproofing and weather protection of the roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors
  • Common areas and areas under the landlord’s control that are kept reasonably clean, sanitary and free from garbage that have appropriate extermination in response to infestation of rodents or vermin 
  • Appropriate extermination in response to the infestation of rodents or vermin throughout a residential premises
  • Adequate and appropriate outdoor trash receptacles for garbage and rubbish
  • Floors, stairs, doors, and windows in good working order and maintained in good repair
  • Compliance with all applicable building, housing and health codes that impact a tenant’s life, health, or safety

The guarantees above concern both the causes of the infestation and the infestation itself.  Your local city or county may have more protection under its building, housing and health codes.

 

What are my responsibilities as a tenant?

Colorado’s Warranty of Habitability does impose some duties on tenants, including: 

  • Comply with their duties under local housing, health and building codes significantly affecting health and safety
  • Keep the residence reasonably clean, safe and sanitary as permitted by the conditions of the unit
  • Dispose of ashes, garbage and other waste in a clean, safe, sanitary and legal way
  • Use electrical, plumbing, heating, AC, sanitary, elevators and other facilities and appliances in a reasonable manner
  • Not intentionally or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the residence or allow any guest, household member or someone under their control to do so
  • Promptly let their landlord know about a problem that makes or would make the property uninhabitable

A landlord is NOT responsible for problems in a rental property caused by the tenant.  As a result, if you have an infestation that is caused by you failing to keep the property clean or sanitary, or, if you fail to notify your landlord when you notice a small infestation, you may be responsible for having to handle the problem yourself. 

 

How can I make sure I don’t move into an apartment that is already infested?

Before you sign a lease for a residence, you should ask to view the specific property you will be renting and look carefully for signs of infestation.  Bring a flashlight and inspect along the baseboards, windows, throughout the kitchen and in cabinets.  Look for droppings, staining, traps and entry points for pests.  Look to make sure that there is a good seal on exterior walls and windows.  You should also ask the landlord what company they work with for pest control and when was the last time this unit had had treatment and if it had a history of infestations.  Try to get their answers in writing if possible. 

 

What should I do if I have an infestation?

As soon as you notice signs of an infestation, you should contact your landlord and send WRITTEN notice to them.  Even if you have discussed the matter over the phone, you need to give your landlord written notice and keep a copy of it.  This will protect you in several ways and keep your options open.  You can also contact your local code enforcement or health department and ask for an inspection. 

 

When your landlord receives written notice of the problem, they have to start taking action within 4 days.  If the problem significantly interferes with your life, health, or safety, your landlord must start taking action within 24 hours of receiving the notice.  If they fail to fix the problem you have several options, including terminating your lease and moving out and suing your landlord.  

 

Updated February 2022

 

This communication is made available by Colorado Legal Services, Inc., (CLS), as a public service and is issued to inform not to advise. No person should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of an attorney. The opinions expressed in this communication are those of the authors and not those of CLS or its funding sources. If you need advice on this or any other legal problem, consult an attorney of your own choosing. If you cannot afford an attorney, talk to Colorado Legal Services, 303.837.1313. If you think you may qualify for Colorado Legal Services, go to applyonlinecls.org to complete your application online.

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