The evictions process, legally referred to as “Forcible Entry and Detainer," generally takes between two and four weeks. In Colorado a landlord may not forcibly remove a Tenant and must follow the legal process in order to regain possession of the leased or rented property.
Normally the first step in the eviction procedure is to serve the tenant with a three-day notice, in Colorado this is called a "Demand for Compliance." Whether the basis for the eviction is a noise complaint, pet violation, or failure to pay rent, a three-day notice must be properly delivered, explain how the lease has been violated, and inform the tenant that he or she has three (3) days to correct the violation, usually by paying the rent, or vacate the premises.
Serving the 3-Day Notice
If you do not complete this step correctly, then you will not be successful in evicting the tenant. You may deliver or "serve" the tenant in one of the following manners, by physically handing the notice to the tenant, setting the documents down in front of the tenant if he or she refuses to accept the documents, leave the notice with a family member who is 16 or older at the premises, leave the documents at the tenant's workplace, or post the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises (such as the front door).
Summons and Complaint
Next, if the tenant fails to comply with the three-day notice, on the fourth day, the landlord can file a summons and complaint in the local county court. The complaint must describe the property at issue, the name of the renter, and the reason for eviction. In addition, the complaint should include the amount of rent due, the rate at which it is accruing, and the amount of any damages. When these documents are filed with the county clerk he or she will determine the response date which is a court date and will usually be between five and ten days in the future. Then, the tenant must be served with a copy of both documents no less than five before the date which the tenant must appear and/or file an answer to the complaint.
Tenant Fails to Answer
If the tenant fails to answer the complaint, the court will likely enter a default judgment for possession against the tenant. If the tenant does not leave within 48-hours of the court ordering a Possession Judgment, you need to go back to the court and apply for a Writ of Restitution. Once the court approves your Writ of Restitution, you must contact the Sheriff's Office to "execute" the Writ, which means physically removing the tenant.
If the Tenant files an answer, the court will set a trial date, usually within five days. On the day of trail the landlord should bring evidence to prove his or her case. This evidence should include the lease, a copy of the 3-Day Notice, and proof that it was properly served. At the trial both sides will have an opportunity to present evidence in accordance with the Colorado Rules of Evidence. If the landlord prevails the court will order the eviction and the renter must vacate within 48-hours or he/she can be forcefully removed by the sheriff.
Collecting Back Rent and Damages
If the summons and complaint were properly served the landlord may elect to pursue collecting back rent and payment for damages.
Individual facts and circumstances may alter the normal process. To learn more about the process and your rights under the law, contact Donald C. Eby, Esq. at (303) 688-0944.