In December 2021, landlords filed roughly 30 eviction cases against Boulder County renters, more than any other month that year, according to a new city report on its eviction prevention program.
The recent uptick in eviction filings is primarily due to unpaid rent, according to city officials, and it reflects ongoing financial challenges for some of Boulder’s tenants. In August, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal eviction moratorium, kicking off a gradual rise in evictions across Colorado and the county.
In Boulder County, 4,000 households are behind on rent, totaling $9.6 million, according to an analysis of U.S. Census and Treasury Department data by the National Equity Atlas.
The county has distributed $7.3 million (of about $15 million) in federal stimulus money to renters and landlords to prevent evictions.
Separately, since the city launched its Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Services (EPRAS) program last January, it has allocated $168,536 in rental assistance to 82 households. The money came from the city’s general fund and will be paid back through an annual fee on rental licenses.
Even with all this assistance, the number of eviction cases is expected to double over the next year across Boulder County, according to city officials.
“The amount of rental assistance that’s being spent is pretty large. But it’s a pretty large need,” Jason Allen, program coordinator for the city’s EPRAS program, said.
Under the program, which voters approved in 2020 when they passed the No Eviction Without Representation ballot measure, city officials and lawyers have been at the Boulder County Justice Center on Fridays providing money and legal help to renters.
In eviction cases in which the city intervenes with support, less than half result in a court-ordered eviction, according to the city’s recent report on the EPRAS program.
The report highlights some of the ways renters, who make up about half of the population in Boulder, can avoid being evicted.
Apply for financial assistance
A 2021 Colorado law requires landlords to drop eviction cases when the tenant pays their past due rent.
Thom Ward, a private attorney helping to represent Boulder residents under its eviction prevention program, said sometimes tenants don’t get this money soon enough to avoid an eviction.
“Delays in rental assistance are causing people to get evicted,” Ward said.
That’s why tenants should apply for rental assistance as soon as they receive a notice from their landlord, he said.
“It’s important they get the process started as early as possible so they have the best chance of being able to shut down that landlord’s lawsuits by handing them the stack of money they owe,” Ward said.
Allan said the fastest the city can approve a rental assistance application and provide funding is about a week, with most taking between one and three weeks. (Judges can order law enforcement to carry out an eviction within two weeks of a landlord filing a complaint, according to state court records.)
Boulder residents can apply for rent money online or by calling 303-441-3414. Up to $4,000 in assistance is available to city households facing eviction, according to Allen.
Separately, the county still has about half of the approximate $15 million in federal eviction prevention money available to renters affected by the pandemic. The county is still accepting applications for that rental assistance. County officials said recently it takes about a month for applicants or their landlords to receive the assistance.
Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) also has rental assistance available.
Contact an attorney
When tenants receive an eviction notice, they should contact an attorney, such as those at Bridge to Justice, a legal nonprofit, Ward said. The city has contracted with the organization for its eviction prevention program.
Since Jan. 1, 2021, the city has referred 204 clients to Bridge to Justice, according to the report.
“The parties might agree on a payment plan, how the tenant will address a lease violation, or to develop a timeline for moveout that works for all parties,” the report said.
Show up to your court date
If tenants don’t show up to court, the judge could issue a default eviction, leaving a permanent mark on someone’s criminal record visible to landlords through a background check. Landlords can use this to deny people housing.
Of the eviction cases city officials tracked, about a third resulted in a court-ordered eviction because “the tenant either never responded to EPRAS’ attempts to contact or didn’t appear in court,” according to the city report.
“You have to show up for your court date,” Ward said. “Because if you don’t, you lose — and there’s almost nothing I can do to fix it.”