Forcible Entry and Detainer can mean several different things under Colorado law, but its most common manifestation is in the context of a landlord evicting a tenant. The Colorado statutes governing forcible entry and detainer, C.R.S. 13-40-101 et seq., covers a number of common situations, including: where an individual enters buildings or land without having the right to do so or ownership of the property; where a tenant stays beyond the term of his or her lease (after termination of the lease); and where a tenant remains despite not paying rent and after a three-day notice. The forcible entry and detainer statutes can also cover instances related to public lands, foreclosed properties and properties that have been sold. Mobile home owners renting space in a mobile home park are not governed by the same laws, and are instead controlled by Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act.
In order to prevail in a forcible entry and detainer action, the landlord or his agent must show that the landlord has a right to possess the property, a landlord-tenant relationship under which the tenant entered (and typically resided in) the property, and that the tenant continues to possess the property without right or authority. As alluded to earlier, in cases of nonpayment of rent and in cases of violation of a condition of the lease, the landlord or his agent must properly post a notice on the property requiring the tenant to move out or pay the rent (or comply with the provision of the lease) within three days.
There are limited defenses available to a forcible entry and detainer action, particularly where the action is commenced for non-payment of rent. Under those circumstances, the only viable defense may evidence that the landlord waived or excused the payment of rent, or where the tenant attempted to pay the rent, but it was not accepted by the landlord. Certain defenses appealing to equity or fairness may also be recognized, but they are generally unlikely to be successful.
Where a landlord prevails on a forcible entry and detainer action, the tenant will be forced to leave the premises and may be responsible for the payment of reasonable rent for the period they stayed in the property without the right to do so, as well as past due rent and late charges. The prevailing party, whether the landlord or the tenant, is generally entitled to recover damages, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs.