May 4, 2016

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Short-term rentals: A problem that demands notice

by | May 4, 2016

The most effective way to fight homelessness is to stop it before it occurs.

With that axiom in mind, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy worked with Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, to develop legislation that would increase protections for tenants in “month-to-month” rental arrangements.

House Bill 1461 would extend the “notice-to-quit” period to terminate such arrangements or increase the rent from 7 to 28 days. If passed, the bill would give tenants a more reasonable timeframe to find new housing accommodations and to move out.

Right now, Colorado has one of the weakest protections in the country for short-term leases. The current seven-day notification requirement is woefully inadequate — especially since Colorado’s well-documented affordable-housing shortage makes it increasingly difficult for tenants to find shelter within such a limited timeframe. Nationwide, 47 states require longer periods of notification – most require 30 days’ notice, and many states require up to 60 days’ notice.

In less-active housing markets, it may be in a landlord’s best financial interest to secure a tenant with a standard lease and renew the lease once it expires to avoid periods of vacancy. In “hot” housing markets such as Colorado, however, the vacancy rate for rental units is less than 2 percent. This means that landlords have the upper hand since there’s no shortage of prospective renters. Hence, it may be financially advantageous for landlords in tight rental markets to seek more flexible and nontraditional arrangements to allow them to increase rent more frequently and boost revenue for their property.

Landlords and tenants often reach such agreements at the end of a leasing cycle. In a survey conducted by 9to5 Colorado, nearly 40 percent of low-income Denver-metro residents reported that their “landlord refused to let them sign another lease,” following the expiration of their initial lease.

Seven days is not a reasonable amount of time for anyone to find a new housing arrangement, pack and move. But the timeframe is especially onerous for people with disabilities, seniors and tenants with children, putting them at greater risk for housing insecurity.

Tenants who added a ramp, lowered counters, or installed specialized door handles to accommodate a disability or ease the physical limitations that come with aging, may be expected to dismantle or reverse such alterations. This is a tall order if you are already under pressure to relocate quickly.

Constant housing instability for tenants with children may also destabilize family relationships, children’s education and community ties — disrupting children’s development and negatively impacting their potential to succeed later in life. Not only are families with young kids at a higher risk for involuntary displacement, but they are also more likely to experience homelessness as a result.

The ramifications of forced displacement are manifold and lasting. One study indicated that renters who had previously experienced an involuntary move were almost 25 percent more likely to face long-term housing challenges than renters who had not.

Consequently, renters are pushed into less-desirable neighborhoods — where they may experience substandard housing conditions, poorer health outcomes, increased poverty and relatively higher crime rates.

Job loss is another all-too-common result of displacement – particularly if inadequate notice is given. For example, the demands of relocating quickly may cause people to miss shifts at work. These factors are further compounded by race. Forced displacement is most common among black and Latino tenants. Poor, black, single mothers are the demographic most seriously impacted by displacement and its myriad consequences.

With homelessness on the rise is Colorado, it is critical that we push for reforms that will decrease residential insecurity and support our state’s most vulnerable populations.

We encourage our state legislators to see the value in this important protection for month-to-month renters and support HB 1461.

Editor’s note: HB 1461 was killed on a vote of 2-3 by the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

– Aubrey Hasvold

Recent articles


To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.