Editor’s note 7/30/21: Governor Jared Polis extended the state’s temporary protections for tenants on July 30, one day before the federal moratorium expiration, protecting Colorado residents who are applying for rental assistance from eviction for at least 30 days.

The pandemic year was difficult for countless Coloradans. But with federal and state measures to pause evictions in place since early 2020, the worry of being forcibly removed from one’s home was, at least, eased for residents experiencing drastic financial hardships. The tide, however, is about to shift. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium is set to expire on July 31 after a series of extensions, putting millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes.

While Colorado’s moratorium (and Denver’s similar directive) expired last summer, Denver has since been deferring the CDC’s guidance, offering protection for Denverites who qualify for the federal moratorium and have been unable to pay rent. The move afforded people more time to find financial assistance. Roughly 13 percent of Coloradans are behind on rent, according to most recent data collected from May 26 to June 21 by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And while recent legislation at the state level offers a bit more protection for tenants (and options for landlords), local advocates fear a sharp increase in evictions. Ahead of the moratorium’s expiration, here’s everything Denverites need to know and what help is still available.

Where Do We Stand Now?

Evictions have been underway this past year in Denver, just at a notably slower rate. Without a legal barrier after July 31, eviction requests are expected to come pouring in—coupled with a rise in rental prices, as landlords potentially attempt to make up for lost revenue from the past year.

In light of the upcoming changes, Governor Jared Polis recently signed several laws into effect aimed at boosting tenant rights and offering more aid, including SB21-242 which set aside $30 million of federal funds and $15 million of state funds for rent assistance, affordable housing, and other support services. Both tenants and landlords can also apply for the $247 million of federal rent relief allocated to the state.

Polis also signed HB21-1121, extending the repayment period after a court order from 48 hours to 10 days, giving tenants more time before a forced removal.

What Does This Mean For Renters and Landlords?

If you are behind on rent and are making less than $99,000, or $198,000 as a couple, you’ve qualified to use the CDC’s moratorium as protection. Now, if you are still behind on rent after the order expires, the clock starts ticking. The moratorium was mainly useful to protect tenants who were taken to court for an eviction, and could prove an inability to pay due to hardships like loss of income or medical bills, and that an eviction would put them at risk of homelessness. Without it, renters now have 10 days to repay before having to appear in court. After it has been brought to court, landlords are not legally obliged to accept any repayment.

Where Can I Go For Help Now?

Losing the moratorium stresses the need for legal assistance if a renter is brought to court, especially as only 1 percent of the tenants evicted in 2020 had legal representation, according to data from the Denver County Court. If you are in need of legal assistance for an eviction lawsuit, you can apply for legal defense funds through Colorado’s Judicial Branch by July 15 at 5 p.m. Lawyers volunteering with the Colorado Eviction Defense Project are also offering legal representation, guidance, and other resources, which you can find, or apply for, here.

If you make less than 80 percent of your area median income, you qualify to apply for rent assistance through Colorado’s Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Portal. Organizations the Colorado Eviction Defense Project and the Resident Relief Foundation are also taking applications for rent relief. If you are facing, or already experiencing, forced eviction or homelessness, visit Housing Now for assistance, or call 2-1-1 Colorado to be connected with various crisis services and support in your area.

Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill is 5280’s former associate digital editor.