In Colorado County Courts, completing an eviction, or Forced Entry and Detainer, is a bit like a dance. Each player makes moves in a certain sequence. Your goal, as a landlord, is keep the process rolling forward smoothly and quickly. You can do this by filing paperwork timely and correctly in Colorado County Civil Courts.
Here’s a possible timeline.
Day 1: The rent is due, usually on the first day of the month. Your lease might say: “Rent is payable by twelve o’clock noon on the first day of each calendar month at the address below…” Rent not received by 12 Noon on the first day of the month is then officially past due. You can serve the 3-day notice on day two.
Day 2: You serve the 3-day notice, or demand for compliance or possession. Remember that the day you serve the notice doesn’t count towards the three days. Let’s imagine you served on a Tuesday. The date for compliance or possession is that Friday (unless it’s a legal holiday on Friday).
Day 5: It’s Friday and you hear…nothing. Your tenant has neither paid up, nor called you to negotiate, nor moved out. You either fax the Demand for Compliance or Possession to your lawyer, or spend the weekend working on your complaint and summons.
Day 8: It’s Monday and you file your complaint and summons with the County Civil Court. File in the Colorado County Civil Court where your property is located. The court clerk will set a return date, which is the date you and your tenant must return to court for a hearing. That date will be anywhere from seven to 14 days after you filed your complaint. You work with a process server or the Sheriff to serve the summons to your tenant. You must deliver the summons at least seven days before the court date. It is important that you check with the local court as to the timing of when they hear eviction actions. Depending upon their timing, you might need to wait a day or two before filing your complaint.
Days 9 through 18: As soon as your tenant gets the Summons, Complaint and Answer notices, the tenant has the right to file an Answer. The Answer can be filed any time up to and on the court date, or “return date.” The tenant can also file a counterclaim any time up to the court date.
Days 15 through 22: Your initial return date will take place during this period of time. When the court date arrives, you should go to court prepared to argue your case. Bring all relevant paperwork such as the lease or rental agreement, security deposit paperwork, relevant letters and emails, 3-day notice, and photos. If the tenant fails to file an Answer, the court may enter a default judgment against the tenant at the return date. If the tenant files an Answer, the trial may occur upon the return date or shortly thereafter.
The law provides that an eviction should be a summary and expedited proceeding. Sometimes a tenant may request a continuance, which is a form of delay. The continuance is at the court’s discretion, however, the law requires that if the trial is delayed longer than five days from the return date, the court may require the tenant to post bond or other security (typically the amount of rent alleged to be in arrears) as a condition to postponing the trial.
What happens next depends on what the court rules. If it rules in your favor, an order of possession will be entered. However the law provides that this order must be stayed (delayed) for 48 hours, so technically the tenant must move out two days after the date the court enters the order. If the tenant is not out, you can contact the County Sheriff’s office to help forcibly remove the tenant’s possessions. Depending upon the County where the property is located, the actual physical eviction may occur a week to three weeks (or maybe even more) after the order of possession (known as a writ of restitution) is placed with the Sheriff.
All of the above assumes that you and your tenant do not come to any type of agreement with respect to vacation of the premises. You and your tenant may come to an agreement allowing the tenant to stay in the rental under negotiated conditions or to vacate by a certain date during the court proceedings. If you do reach such an agreement, ask the court to enter it as an order. That way, if your tenant does not live by the terms, you can seek additional help from the courts.
For more information about the eviction process, see the Landlord & Tenant Guide to Colorado Leases and Evictions, 5th Edition, by Victor M. Grimm, Esq. and Denise E. Grimm.