The Eviction Process

Colorado Eviction Process Flow

Under Colorado law, a landlord may only legally recover possession of a rental property through the eviction process if a tenant is breaching the lease or refuses to leave when the lease has ended. An overview of the eviction process is illustrated by the flow chart.  

The Eviction Flow Chart

When a landlord believes a tenant is in violation of their lease contract, they will begin the eviction process. The landlord will issue a Demand/ Notice a Notice to Quit. IF the tenant pays rent or cures the violation the case is closed. The following chart describes what both parties can expect in the event the tenant fails to cure the violation, or fails to vacate.

Sheriff’s Physical Eviction Sheriff Scheduled Writ to Sheriff Writ Obtained Tenant Remains in Possession Cures or Moves Does Not Cure or Move Landlord Loses At Trial Tenant Signs Stipulation Landlord Wins at Trial Trial Date Cures or Moves Trial Set Tenant Contests (Answer Filed) Tenant Signs Stipulation (Confessed Judgment) Tenant Does Not Respond (Default Judgment) Return Date Case Filed with Court Cures or Moves Tenant Does Not Comply Demand / Notice Served Sherriff’s Physical Eviction Sheriff Scheduled Writ To Sherif Writ Obtained Tenant Remains in Possession Cures or Moves Does Not Cure or Move Landlord Looses At Trial Tenant Signs Stipulation Landlord Wins at Trial Trial Date Cures or Moves Trial Set Tenant Contests (Answer Filed) Tenant Signs Stipulation (Confessed Judgment) Tenent Does Not Respond (Default Judgment) Return Date Case Filed with Court Cures or Moves Tenant Does Not Comply Demand / Notice is Served

Demand / Notice Served

The first step of the Eviction Process will always be serving your tenant with an eviction notice/demand. All of our eviction notice/demand forms are located here. If you are unsure which demand is appropriate for your situation, please contact our office. If we have to file an eviction case, this Demand or Notice will be the starting document for your case.

Tenant Does Not Comply

If the tenant does not comply with your Demand or Notice, either by continuing to violate the lease or by not moving out in the specified timeframe, you will need to start the eviction process to legally remove the tenant from the rental unit. When you are ready to file your eviction, you will need to send us your Demand or Notice. Rent Demands should be sent directly to the Eviction Department . All other Notices and Demands (that are not Rent Demands) should be sent to the Situations Department. See: TS Law Firm Communication Best Practices: https://www.thslawfirm.com/communicate

Cures or Moves

If you serve a tenant with a Demand and they comply with the Demand or move out of the rental unit in the timeframe specified, you will have no need to file an eviction.

Case Filed with Court

Once we review and process your case, we will file the case with the court, serve the tenant with a Summons and Complaint, and appear on your behalf at the Return Date (initial court date). You will be notified once the case is filed and a court date is scheduled.

Return Date

The initial court date is called the “return date.” In non-legalese, it is the initial court date, initial show up date, or first appearance date. When an eviction lawsuit is filed, the tenant gets notified of the lawsuit when a Summons is served on the tenant. The return date is the date set forth in the Summons by which the Tenant must Answer (contest the eviction) or be subject to default. You do not appear at the return date. We appear on your behalf and we either default the tenant, settle the case, or the case gets set for trial because the tenant filed an Answer.

Tenant Does Not Respond (Default Judgment)

Pursuant to state statute (as amended by SB-173 in the 2021 Regular General Assembly Session), a court may not enter a default judgment against a tenant prior to close of business on the Return Date. This means that if the Return Date is October 28 and the tenant fails to appear, the court may not enter judgment until October 29. As a practical matter, almost all courts enter judgments much later than the next day. For example, Jefferson, Arapahoe, and El Paso counties all have standing orders that eviction files are not reviewed for 48 hours after the return date. This means that default judgments in these counties do not enter for at least 48 hours after the return date and time. While other counties may not have standing orders, they can and do take several days to enter default judgments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some courts took weeks to enter judgment. As the process normalizes, a good rule of thumb is that a court will enter a default judgment for possession 3 to 5 days after the return date.

Tenant Signs Stipulation (Confessed Judgment)

A tenant may sign a stipulation (confess judgment) at any time during an eviction lawsuit. But as a practical matter, tenant’s most frequently confess judgment at or prior to the return date. A tenant confesses judgment by signing an agreement (the agreement is called a “Stipulation”) that the tenant is not contesting the case and acknowledges that the landlord is legally entitled to possession of the property.For nonpayment cases, our standard stipulation allows the tenant an additional fourteen (14) days from the initial court date to either pay (statutorily curing by paying the amount set forth in the Rent Demand plus any additional rent that has become due) or move out. For nonmonetary eviction cases, the standard stipulation allows the tenant an additional fourteen (14) days to move out only. If a tenant complies with the Stipulation by either paying or moving out, you are legally required to notify us so that we may request that the judgment be vacated (removed) from the court record and that the case be dismissed.

Tenant Contests (Answer Filed)

A tenant contests an eviction lawsuit by filing an Answer. An Answer states the reasons why the landlord is not entitled to possession of the property. A tenant may file an Answer at any time on or prior to the Return Date. Sometimes courts even allow tenants to file Answers after the Return Date depending on the circumstances. Many courts allow Answers even though the answers don’t state a legal defense. For example, many Answers simply state that the tenant just needs more time to pay. If a tenant files an Answer (contests the case), the court sets the case for a possession trial to determine whether the tenant should be evicted (possession should be awarded back to the landlord).

Trial Set

If a tenant filed an Answer (response) to the eviction complaint, the case will be set for a trial. The assigned trial coordinator and attorney will notify you, request the relevant documents if we have not already received them, and schedule a time to discuss the case with you to prepare for the trial.

Cures or Moves

If the tenant complies with the terms of their Stipulation Agreement by either paying or moving out by the specified date, this ends the case. Again, you are legally required to notify us so that we may request that the judgment be vacated (removed) from the court record and that the case be dismissed.

Trial Date

The Court hears contested cases on the trial date. If your case gets set for trial, trial preparations begins. During trial preparation, you are required to provide any relevant documents and make yourself available to the TS trial attorney assigned to your case. The Court only determines possession at the trial and thus does not rule on monetary issues.

Landlord Wins at Trial

If the landlord prevails at trial, the courts enter a judgment for possession. If the tenant still fails to vacate after the court enters a judgment for possession, the next step is to schedule a physical eviction with the sheriff.

Tenant Signs Stipulation (Confessed Judgment)

A tenant may sign a stipulation (confess judgment) at any time during an eviction lawsuit. But as a practical matter, tenant’s most frequently confess judgment at or prior to the return date. A tenant confesses judgment by signing an agreement (the agreement is called a “Stipulation”) that the tenant is not contesting the case and acknowledges that the landlord is legally entitled to possession of the property.For nonpayment cases, our standard stipulation allows the tenant an additional fourteen (14) days from the initial court date to either pay (statutorily curing by paying the amount set forth in the Rent Demand plus any additional rent that has become due) or move out. For nonmonetary eviction cases, the standard stipulation allows the tenant an additional fourteen (14) days to move out only. If a tenant complies with the Stipulation by either paying or moving out, you are legally required to notify us so that we may request that the judgment be vacated (removed) from the court record and that the case be dismissed.

Landlord Loses at Trial

If the tenant prevails at trial, it means they have proven to the court that they should not be evicted. If the tenant wins, the tenant gets to continue their tenancy and the case is concluded. Landlords that lose at trial may be liable for the tenants attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Cures or Moves

If the tenant complies with the terms of their Stipulation Agreement by either paying or moving out by the specified date, this ends the case. Again, you are legally required to notify us so that we may request that the judgment be vacated (removed) from the court record and that the case be dismissed.

Tenant Remains in Possession

If you lose at trial and the court determines that you do not have a legal right to retake possession of the rental unit, the tenant will remain and their tenancy will continue until the lease expires, or until it’s terminated for some other reason.

Writ Obtained

If the court enters a judgment for possession and the tenant still refuses to vacate, the next step is to move forward with the physical eviction process. The first step in that process is to obtain a Writ of Restitution (Writ). If you have a possession judgment, we will automatically obtain a Writ for you. A Writ is a Court order commanding the county sheriff to remove the tenant and restore the landlord to possession. By Colorado statute, a Court may not issue a Writ until forty-eight hours after the time of the entry of the judgment and a Sheriff shall “not execute a writ of restitution concerning a residential tenancy until at least ten days after entry of the judgment”.

Writ to Sheriff

The Sheriff will not schedule until a Writ has been delivered to the Sheriff’s Office along with the applicable Sheriff’s fees. If you instruct us, we will serve (where applicable), and deliver the Writ to the Sheriff as well as any applicable Sheriff’s fees.

Sheriff Scheduled

After we have delivered a Writ and the Sheriff’s Fees, the Sheriff will call you to schedule a physical move date. Because the Sheriff calls you at the contact number you previously provided to us, mobile phones are best. To avoid delays, you should always answer the Sheriff’s call. The Sheriff calls you based on the Sheriff’s schedule which could be days or even weeks.

Sheriff Physical Eviction

On the scheduled date and time, the Sheriff will come to the rental unit to supervise the eviction. The Sheriff does not do any physical work, so you will need to arrange for enough labor to remove all of the tenants belongings within an hour. For more information on the Sheriff’s Requirements for Physical Eviction, please refer to this document: https://www.thslawfirm.com/wp-content/uploads/free/06_SheriffInstructions_2019.12.12.pdf

Additional Resources

Court Links

Need to get to court?  Find directions and more information about Colorado’s county courts here.

Sheriff’s Requirement Document

Looking for basic guidelines on what to expect when the Sheriff arrives for an eviction?  Click here.

Notice Checklist

Not sure how to complete your eviction notices and demands properly?  Click here for more information and tips.