You Do Need A Legitimate Non-Discriminatory Reason For Non-Renewing A Tenant


Frequently, landlords and managers have just enough information to be dangerous.  One of the most dangerous statements in the business is the “I heard that under Colorado law I do not need a reason to non-renew a tenant”.  Is this a true statement? Yes, under Colorado landlord tenant law, you do not need a reason to non-renew a tenant.  However, under federal and Colorado Fair Housing Laws, you may only non-renew tenants for legitimate non-discriminatory
business reasons. While you don’t need a reason to non-renew, landlords renew good tenants.

Landlords only non-renew bad tenants for specific reasons.  Thus, while under Colorado Landlord-Tenant Law, you do not need to have a reason to win an eviction case or end the relationship with a tenant, you have reasons for non-renewing.  If the Colorado Civil Rights Division comes knocking on your door with a discrimination complaint, you will have to provide these reasons for non-renewal.  To avoid fair housing liability, your non-renewal reasons must be nondiscriminatory, i.e. based on a legitimate nondiscriminatory business reasons.  Accordingly, every non-renewal decision should be thought through in advance to ensure that it is based upon a legitimate non-discriminatory business reason.  If you fail to think through the situation and just fall back on the old “I don’t need a reason” rationale because you just want a tenant out, you may have a difficult time responding to a discrimination complaint.

If you can’t articulate the reasons at the time the notice of non-renewal goes out, how are you going to articulate them under pressure from the Colorado Civil Rights Division?  Finally, your non-renewal decisions should be consistent.  Even if your non-renewal decision is based on a legitimate business reason, you may still have a problem if you renewed other similarly situated tenants.  Disparate treatment of similarly situated tenants is strong circumstantial evidence of discriminatory intent.