Overview of Rental Property & Natural Disasters in Colorado

Claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) must be made within a short amount of time after the disaster occurred. Persons can and should file a claim with FEMA at the same time they file their insurance claims. FEMA may not pay until/unless insurance declines coverage.

Personal Property

It is the tenant’s responsibility to have maintained renter’s insurance for their personal property. If there is damage, the tenant should contact their insurance company. If there is no renter’s insurance or other coverage, a claim can be made with FEMA if the tenant is in a federal disaster county.

Residence

If there is an ownership interest in the residence, contact the insurance company. If there is no insurance coverage or coverage is denied, a claim can be made with FEMA if the property is in a federal disaster designated county. FEMA will not cover what insurance pays; so, an insurance claim must be made.

Tenant with a Private Landlord

If there are issues that affect the habitability of the residence, the Warranty of Habitability may come into play. Generally, a written notice must be given to the landlord identifying the issues and requesting repairs. The tenant must give written notice that the premises are uninhabitable in no less than ten and no more than thirty days of knowledge of the condition. If the landlord does not repair within five business days, the tenant may be able to break the lease and the landlord may be responsible for damages to the tenant. However, the tenant needs to review their lease to determine if there is an “act of god” clause or other provision permitting termination after natural disaster.

The Warranty of Habitability does allow the landlord to terminate the lease without future liability due to casualty or catastrophe. If that happens, the security deposit should be returned (within 30-60 days), and the tenant should not have responsibility for rent. Tenants need to be in contact with their landlord and notify landlord in writing of issues. Tenants should also contact city inspectors if there is a dispute as to whether property is condemned or just needs repairs.

Colorado statutes do not explicitly permit an offset of rent for Warranty of Habitability issues. If the tenant does not pay rent, the landlord could move to terminate for non-payment. If the tenant has provided written notice of issues to the landlord, the tenant may be able to raise Warranty of Habitability violations as a defense, but it would be up to the Court to determine fair market value of the property.

Tenant in Public Housing

Same basic rights as with a private landlord. However, if the property is condemned or not livable, the Housing Authority or Public Housing Agency may have a duty and responsibility to move the tenant in to comparable housing at the PHA’s expense.

Tenant with Federal Housing Assistance (Section 8)

Same basic rights as with a private landlord, but the tenant needs to be in contact with their housing coordinator to ensure that the Section 8 voucher is transferred to a new property. If the existing lease is not rescinded, the tenant risks losing the housing voucher if they move without rescinding the lease or getting approval from the Section 8 provider.

Mobile Homes

If the person owns the mobile home and the home is in a Mobile Home Park, the Park is responsible for utility/sewer lines etc. to the pad site. The mobile home owner/tenant is otherwise solely responsible for the home. The owner of the mobile home may make a claim with their insurance company and/or FEMA. If the home is destroyed, the mobile home owner is responsible for removing the home and clean up.

If the person rents the mobile home, see above for private landlord tenant.

If the Mobile Home Park provided sheds, carports, or other buildings or structures, it is the responsibility of the Mobile Home Park to repair/restore.