Denver ranks just above the national average for cost of living but well below many other major U.S. cities. There are several housing options available in metro Denver, ranging from executive housing to entry-level homes and apartments. Denver’s diverse communities are each unique in their own culture and amenities but all strong in community support and pride.
Initially, it may be necessary to find a hotel suitable for temporary housing while searching for the right place to live. Consider contacting other Foreign Nationals for advice on short-term and long-term accommodations. See the Foreign National Directory under Resources and Government Links.
Find detailed descriptions of Denver’s urban and suburban living communities, maps and other lifestyle information by visiting:
Once you identify an area that meets your needs, there are many resources for finding suitable housing.
- Search online websites such as Craigslist, Padmapper, Zillow and Trulia. Other sites include:
- Search the area by car or foot, looking for “Vacancy” and “For Rent” signs.
- Ask for information in the leasing office; if there is no office on the property, look for the manager’s contact name and phone number.
- Look in grocery stores for apartment rental guides like “The Apartment Guide” and “Apartments For Rent”.
- Use a free apartment referral service listed in the “Yellow Pages” of the telephone book. Never pay for this service.
Renting has many financial implications. Below are a few to keep in mind.
A lease is a legally binding contract between a property owner (landlord) and a tenant. Before signing a lease, tenants should read the lease carefully to make sure they understand and feel comfortable with all the conditions. Renters should pay particular attention to the details concerning: the rental rates, the security deposit amount, the lease dates, the monthly rent payment deadlines, the arrangement for utility payments, pet information (if applicable), the lease termination requirements, as well as anything specifically listed as the tenant's or owner's responsibility. All agreements should be documented in the lease.
Anticipate how long you will need to rent the space. Make sure the lease is not binding for a time period too short or too long. See whether it is renewable by the month or the year. Ask if you can “break” the lease by notifying the landlord a month or two in advance. In the absence of such a provision, you may be required to pay rent until the end of the lease term even if you move out and live elsewhere (many unpleasant disputes arise between landlords who want to keep their property rented and renters who, after signing a lease, decide for some reason to live elsewhere). Or, if the lease allows it, you may be able to “sublet” your room or apartment. That means you find another tenant to rent your apartment in your absence.
Find out which utilities tenants are responsible for and which utilities the landlord covers. Ask the landlord or a current tenant what average utility costs are, because utility costs must be added to rent in determining your monthly housing cost. The Colorado landlord-tenant law, along with Denver housing codes, requires landlords to provide adequate winter heating and regular insect control.
List of Damages
Inspect the property before signing a lease. Make a list of all damages and fixtures that need repair. Ask the landlord to sign or initial the list of repairs needed. Keep this list for it will indicate any damage or repairs needed when you moved in and may help you get your security deposit back when you move out.
Security Deposit and Last Month’s Rent
At the time of signing the lease, a landlord is allowed to demand certain payments from a tenant before moving in.
Usually tenants must pay a security deposit at the time of signing a lease or rental agreement. This can amount to as much as two months’ rent. A security deposit is money you pay and expect to get back after moving out. Upon moving out, the landlord can keep part or all of the deposit to cover damages caused by the tenant, unpaid utility bills, unpaid rent, and necessary cleaning. The landlord may not keep the deposit to cover normal deterioration that occurs from use. Colorado State law requires the landlord to return the deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out. If the landlord does not return all of a tenant’s deposit, they are required to deliver a written statement within 30 days explaining why some or all of the deposit was withheld. The tenant should leave a forwarding address so the landlord can send the deposit.
The purpose of the last month’s rent payment is to protect a landlord against a tenant’s leaving without paying the last month’s rent. You should not expect to get this money back when you move out, as it will pay for your last month’s rent.
The most important step that every tenant should take when giving a landlord a security deposit or last month’s rent payment is to get a written receipt. A receipt is your best protection and may prevent problems between tenant and landlord later on.
Payment of Rent
The lease should clearly state the landlord’s rental payment rules, including:
- The amount of rent.
- Where rent is due (such as by mail to landlord’s business address).
- When rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend or holiday).
- How rent should be paid (check, money order, cash, or credit card).
- The amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent.
- The amount of fees for a bounced rent check and paying rent late.
Restrictions and Exclusions
A landlord may have restrictions and exclusions included in a lease to promote safety and welfare, preserve property and fairly distribute services and facilities. Common restrictions concern children and pets.
Landlord - Tenant Disputes
The relationship between a landlord and tenant is defined in the lease, which is a legally binding agreement. It is very important, therefore, that tenants read the lease carefully and understand the various provisions in the event of a dispute. If there is a later dispute about what is meant in the lease, tenants can use the following resources to learn about tenant – landlord rights and responsibilities and get free advice from qualified individuals:
Renting Without a Lease
Some landlords do not require a signed lease. The advantage is that you may vacate by giving the landlord 30 days’ written notice. However, having a lease prevents landlords from raising the rent, and neglecting maintenance and repairs on structural elements or plumbing, heating equipment, and appliances. Without a lease, the tenant does not have these guarantees, although the landlord must meet certain “habitability standards” even without a lease. The landlord, like the tenant, can end a verbal rental agreement by providing 30 days’ written notice to the tenant.
Tenants are encouraged to purchase “renter’s insurance” to protect against losses caused by fire, theft, or vandalism. This kind of insurance covers personal belongings in the home and automobile. It also covers damages for which you would be legally liable if a fire or other accident that was your responsibility damaged the building in which you rent and/or the property of other renters in your building. The cost of renter’s insurance varies depending on the value of your personal possessions, but is relatively low. When buying insurance, it is considered wise to compare rates. Visit the Yellow Pages for a list of insurance agents in the Denver area.
Landlords are required to keep the building and unit in a habitable condition. This means the landlord must ensure that the building is structurally sound, provide hot and cold water, ensure that the roof is not leaking, and keep the plumbing, electrical and heating systems all in safe operating condition. Also, if a rental property has become infested with pests, landlords must often pay for an exterminator, unless the tenant’s wrongdoing or poor housekeeping caused the infestation.
There are minor problems that a landlord is not required by law to fix. Examples of minor problems may include dripping faucets, running toilets, small holes in carpet, grimy grout or torn window screens. However, if the terms of the lease agreement state that the landlord will fix any of the problems you are having, then the landlord is required to do so. If you make any special agreements with the landlord concerning repairs or alterations, make sure those agreements are written into the lease, signed and dated.