In Colorado, it is legal for a landlord to ask a prospective tenant whether the tenant has previously been convicted of a felony. Colorado also provides a frequently updated public registry of all convicted felons. Landlords may deny housing to prospective tenants based on their prior felony convictions.
The federal Fair Housing Act and Colorado law makes it illegal for landlords to discriminatorily deny housing for protected classes. Felons in Colorado are not members of a protected class. Protection is extended to individuals of different religious denominations, color, gender, economic status, age groups and disabled individuals. Colorado landlords may not deny housing based on a tenant's race, origin, religion, gender, age, disability or family status. Landlords may not use any of these factors during their application or screening process.
Petition to Restore Rights
Criminal defendants may have their legal constitutional rights taken away once they are found guilty of committing a criminal felony. Commonly, rights to voting or disenfranchisement, rights to bear arms, and rights to hold public office can be taken away from felons. Additionally, felons may face a denial of housing or access to available rentals based upon their prior felony convictions. Some jurisdictions provide ex-felons with an automatic restitution after a certain number of years with no subsequent felony charges, allow state legislatures or governors to provide pardons or simply disallow restitution and permanently remove rights.
Colorado's Restoration of Rights
In Colorado, felons may lose their rights to housing based upon their prior criminal records. Felons in Colorado can receive an automatic restoration of their right to vote after completing prison terms; felons cannot receive a restoration to restore housing rights. The Colorado Code only addresses a felon's rights to future employment and licensing on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Duty of Habitability
Title 38, Article 12, Section 503 of the Colorado Statute contains a landlord's warranty of habitability. The duty of habitability requires the landlord to provide safe and livable premises for its tenants. A landlord who fails to exercise reasonable caution in screening convicted felons who may be a danger to other tenants places the landlord in jeopardy of violating his duty to maintain a safe environment.
Since laws frequently change, you should not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.
- Colorado.gov: Colorado Division of Housing: Landlord - Tenant Rights
- Colorado.gov: The Colorado Renter's Guide 2009-2010: A Guide to Renter's Rights and Responsibilities
- Colorado Statutes Title 38, Article 12
- GovernmentRegistry.org: Colorado Felonies: Colorado Felony Classes
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Voting Rights Restoration Process
- American Bar Association: Felon Disenfranchisement
- Photo Credit prison wire image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com
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