It’s the Year of the Renter at the Colorado statehouse, from rent control to less stringent eviction timelines

Several bills are on Colorado Democrats’ agenda to fix what tenants call an imbalance of power, while landlords say too much, too fast could worsen housing crisis

Jennifer Brown and Jesse Paul | Colorado Sun

New housing on West Kentucky Avenue at the intersection of South Utica Street sits adjacent to a mobile home and trailer park in the Westwood neighborhood of Denver, CO. January, 17, 2019. (Jeremy Sparig, Special to The Colorado Sun)

First it was the bed bugs that infested the couch and the roaches scuttling through the kitchen. But the worst was the day the boiler room exploded, sending residents of Kelsey Danna’s apartment complex screaming and running as a gas man shouted at them to get to safety.

The Englewood complex didn’t have heat for two weeks, and the hot water didn’t return for even longer. When the tenants banded together and refused to pay rent that month last fall, they were slapped with eviction notices.

“I was terrified to go back in the house,” said Danna, who was eight months pregnant and had just returned from a walk with her husband when the explosion happened. “I was scared it was going to explode while we were sleeping.”

Horror stories like Danna’s and dozens more from tenants throughout Colorado are propelling a host of changes in state law, which advocates say now is lopsided in favor of landlords. They say evictions are reaching “crisis levels,” with more than 10,000 last year in Littleton and Arapahoe County and about 7,000 in Denver, according to judicial system data. Property owners, though, warn that the proposals are too much at once and could have the opposite effect than intended: fewer rentals and higher prices.

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