Evictions in Colorado, as in every state, can be complicated. Landlords must follow strict court rules and use specific forms. Here is a sampling of forms used for eviction in the Denver Metro Area and throughout Colorado.
Prior to beginning an eviction, you must give tenants fair warning. These forms are all called “3-day notices”.
The 3-Day Notice, aka Demand for Compliance or Possession
This notice gives tenants three days to fix the problem (i.e. pay the rent, stop smoking in the house), or move out. The demand is a formal document with two parts, a top and bottom.
The top spells out the tenant’s name, the property and the problem. You date and sign it. The bottom part describes how you delivered, or “served,” the notice to your tenant. Make sure to make a copy of it; you’ll need it for the forcible entry and detainer complaint, below.
3-Day Notice to Quit (Repeat Violation)
This form is used when tenants have repeatedly violated a prohibition in a lease and you want them out immediately. You must have issued a previous demand for compliance or possession for the same violation. This tool cannot be used for chronic late rent payers.
Like the Demand for Compliance or Possession, the formal document has two parts, a top and a bottom. The notice asks that you spell out how and when tenant has broken the lease. Make a copy of it.
Eviction Legal Notices, aka Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) Forms
If your tenant hasn’t responded to 3-day notice, eviction is the next step. Evictions involve three legal forms: a complaint, a summons and an answer. Landlords or their attorneys fill out the first two forms and file them with the court. The summons and complaint and an answer form are then served upon the tenant who can use the answer to reply to the court.
The complaint includes:
• the county and county court in which you are filing, which is the county where the property is located.
• the reasons for the eviction: the dates that the rent is past due, and any penalties or how and when the tenant has violated terms and conditions of the lease
• when you served the 3-day notice; and
• whether you want a jury or “bench” (i.e. judge) trial. (Jury trials are generally not recommended for landlords as they tend to be longer, more involved, more expensive, and unnecessary to determine such simple fact issues as whether rent has been paid or not.)
Attach a copy of the lease and a copy of the 3-day notice, and sign and notarize the form, before filing.
Prepare the summons at the same time as the complaint. The summons informs your tenant that he or she is a defendant in a legal case; the date and time to file an answer and when to appear in court.
The summons includes:
• The county and address of the county court;
• Names and addresses of plaintiffs and defendants;
• A court date; and
• A civil action number and courtroom number, which will be obtained from the clerk.
After filing, you must ensure the tenant is served with the summons and complaint and an answer form.
Return of Service
The summons also includes a separate document that describes how the summons was delivered or “served” to the tenant/plaintiff. This document is called the Return of Service.
Tenants are not required to ‘answer’ the complaint, but if they choose to, they would fill out this form and file it in court. The answer is the tenant’s response to your suit. Your tenant may deny allegations and make counterclaims. Just as you provided the lease and related documents as evidence, your tenant may provide evidence. If the tenant does not file an answer, the landlord may receive a default judgment.
By filing an answer, the tenant is asserting that there is a controversy to be determined by the court. The tenant is also requesting a trial, and possibly asserting a counterclaim against landlord. Although, technically, a court may immediately proceed to adjudicate the matter, the filing of an answer will typically delay adjudication perhaps up to a week.
For more information, see The Landlord & Tenant Guide to Colorado Leases and Evictions, 5th Edition, by Victor M. Grimm, Esq. and Denise E. Grimm.