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Colorado governor bans evictions for tenants who can prove financial hardship because of coronavirus

The order, which lasts at least 30 days, comes after the Democrat faced months of pressure from housing advocates

Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
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Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday issued an executive order banning Colorado landlords from evicting tenants who can prove financial hardship because of the coronavirus crisis.

The order, which lasts at least 30 days, comes after the Democrat faced months of pressure from housing advocates to protect renters from losing their homes during the pandemic.

Polis formed a Special Eviction Prevention Task Force, which recommended that he enact the eviction ban.

In order to meet the financial hardship threshold, renters must prove they are:

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  • Attempting to obtain government assistance for rent or housing
  • Either expect to make no more than $99,000 in annual income for calendar year 2020 or no more than $198,000 if they are filing a joint tax return; were not required to report any income in 2019 to the Internal Revenue Service; and/or received an Economic Impact Payment under the federal CARES Act
  • Unable to pay full rent or make a housing payment due to
    a substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, were laid off, and/or are facing extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Making an effort to make timely partial payments that are as close to
    the full payment as possible
  • Unable to find other housing and would likely be rendered homeless or forced to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting if evicted

MORE: Read the executive order.

Polis said the order reaffirms and clarifies a national eviction moratorium enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that lasts through the end of the year.

Polis, under Colorado law, can issue emergency orders like the one surrounding evictions only in 30-day increments.

The governor also put the onus on Congress to take further action to help Coloradans and people across the country weather the financial hardships of the pandemic.

“We must take additional steps to provide relief to Colorado renters and small businesses,” he said.

Landlords may still evict tenants if they pose “an imminent and serious threat to another individual” or if they cause “significant damage” to the landlord’s property.

The order adds: “Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed as relieving any party of their duty to comply with any contractual obligations imposed on parties by a lease or rental agreement.”

The Colorado Apartment Association has said that warnings from housing advocates of an eviction tsunami because of the coronavirus crisis have been overblown. It called the CDC’s eviction moratorium “bad policy.”

“These small property owners, who already are struggling financially during the COVID closures, don’t have enough customer diversification or capitalization to withstand constant meddling from the federal government,” Drew Hamrick, general counsel and senior vice president of government affairs for the Colorado Apartment Association, said in a written statement.

The association blasted Polis’ order on Wednesday.

“By preventing a property owner from getting their property back at the expiration of a lease or if there’s a default, the ability to rent a property is being destroyed,” Hamrick said in reaction to the governor’s order. “The result of the continued changes in executive orders will make it more expensive to attain rental housing.”

Tanisha Diggs and her husband Kwabena Yeboah sort through court documents at their kitchen table on June 17, 2020. The couple and their two sons were facing eviction because their rental company said tha they violated their lease. But they dispute the claims. (Moe Clark, The Colorado Sun.)

Colorado’s unemployment rate fell to 6.2% in September after reaching a peak of 11.3% in April. But there are still nearly 200,000 unemployment workers in the state.

In April, Polis issued an order outlawing evictions except in cases where public safety was at risk. But he opted not to extend the directive, angering housing advocates and some Democratic legislators at the Capitol, who then tried and failed to pass a bill to do just that.

Polis has taken a number of smaller actions on housing, outlawing late fees and requiring landlords to give tenants extra notice before moving forward with eviction proceedings.

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