Warranty of Habitability
Understanding the Revision to Colorado State Code
In June of 2019, Colorado Law Makers approved House Bill 19-1328: "Concerning Bed Bugs in Residential Premises, and, In Conjunction Therewith, Establishing Duties for Landlords and Tenants in Addressing the Presence of Bed Bugs."
This Bill seeks to Address Notification, Inspection, and Treatment times, as well as addresses one of the vague aspects of Bed Bug Eradication, namely, who is responsible for the cost for Inspection and Treatment Services. As a result of being signed, House Bill 19-1328 invoked a number of changes to Colorado Statute Title 38 Article 12 overseeing Tenants and Landlords.
Tenant's Requirement to Notify Landlords of Suspected or Known Infestation:
Section 38-12-1002 states that "A Tenant shall Promptly Notify the Tenant's Landlord via Written or Electronic Notice when the Tenant Knows or Reasonably Suspects that the Tenant's Dwelling Unit Contains Bed Bugs." Notification examples cited include "Email Address, Telephone Number, or Electronic Portal specified by the Landlord in the Rental Agreement for Notifications." Note that this section goes on to encourage "Tenants to retain sufficient proof of the Delivery of the Electronic Notice."
Landlord's Requirement to Respond to Such Notice:
Upon Receipt of Such Notice, Section 38-12-1002 (2) requires that the Landlord respond with a period "Not More than 96 Hours" and (a) "Shall Obtain an Inspection of the Dwelling Unit".
Landlords Requirements to Provide Notice to Tenants Prior to Inspection:
Section 38-12-1002 "The Landlord shall provide the Tenant with Reasonable Written or Electronic Notice of such fact at least 48 Hours before the Landlord, Qualified Inspector, or Pest Control Agent attempts to Enter the Dwelling Unit." This section stipulates however that the "Rental Agreement may provide for a different minimum time for notice." Note that it goes on to state that the "Tenant who receives such notice, shall not unreasonably deny access to the Dwelling Unit."
What Tenants Should Expect During Inspection:
Section 38-12-1004 (2) states that "A Qualified Inspector who is inspecting a Dwelling Unit for Bed Bugs may conduct an Initial Visual and Manual Inspection of Tenant's Bedding and Upholstered Furniture." Note that it is not uncommon to find evidence of Bed Bugs in Chairs and Couches that a Tenant spends more than 30 minutes per day in. This section goes on to state that "The Qualified Inspector may inspect Other Items other than bedding and upholstered furniture when the Qualified Inspector determines that such an inspection is necessary and reasonable."
If Bed Bugs a Found as a Result of Inspection:
Section 38-12-1002 (3) states that if an "Inspection of a Dwelling Unit confirms the presence of Bed Bugs, the Landlord shall also cause to be performed an inspection of all Continuous Dwelling Units as Promptly as is Reasonably Practical." For the purpose of this discussion, Continuous Dwelling Units are considered to be neighboring units, those above and below, as well as those across the hall if applicable. Section 38-12-1003 goes on to state the the Landlord "Must Provide Written Notice to the Tenant Within 2 Business Days After the Inspection Indicating Whether the Dwelling Unit Contains Bed Bugs."
Non-Removal of Infested Items:
Section 38-12-1004 states that "If any Furniture, Clothing, Equipment, or Personal Property belonging to a Tenant is Found to Contain Bed Bugs, the Qualified Inspector shall advice the Tenant that the Furniture, Clothing, Equipment, or Personal Property should NOT be Removed from the Dwelling Unit Until a Pest Control Agent Determines that a Bed Bug Treatment has been completed." An exception to this is any items deemed suitable for removal after inspection.
Non-Disposal of Infested Items in Common Areas:
Section 38-12-1004 (5) goes on to state that "the Tenant shall not dispose of Personal Property that was determined to contain Bed Bugs in any Common Area where such disposal may risk the infestation of other dwelling units." This is intended to limit the infestation of additional Dwelling Units by Unwitting and Unknowing Recipients of Personal Property collected from Common Areas.
Section 38-12-1003 (4) states that "Except as otherwise provided, a Landlord is Responsible for All Costs Associated with an Inspection For, and Treatment of Bed Bugs." It should be noted however, that Section 38-12-1004 (4) states that "the Tenant is responsible for all costs associated with Preparing the Dwelling unit for Inspection and Treatment." A word of caution here as it goes on to state that "A Tenant who Knowingly and Unreasonably Fails to Comply with Inspection and Treatment Requirements of any Bed Bug Treatments of the Dwelling Unit AND Contiguous Dwelling Units if the need for such treatments arises from the Tenant's Noncompliance."
Future Renting of Dwelling Units Known to Have a Current Bed Bug Infestation:
Section 38-12-1005 protects the rights of Tenants by stating that "A Landlord shall not offer for rent a Dwelling Unit that the Landlord Knows or Reasonably Suspects to contain Bed Bugs." This is however, not a mandatory disclosure and that a "Upon Request from a Prospective Tenant, a Landlord Shall Disclose the to Prospective Tenant whether to the Landlord's Knowledge, the Dwelling Unit that the Landlord is offering for rent, contained Bed Bugs within the Previous 8 Months." In which case, the Landlord "shall disclose the last date, if any, on which a Dwelling Unit being rented or offered for rent was Inspected For, and Found to be Free of Bed Bugs."
Should a Landlord or Tenant not comply with House Bill 19-1328, Section 38-12-1006 goes on to discuss a number of Remedies and Course of Action for Landlords and Tenants should Non-Compliance occur with either party. Reference the entirety of the Act here for more information: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/2019a_1328_signed.pdf