Important Fort Collins Laws

Abandoned Vehicles: You can not park your car in any public location for more than 48 hours at a time. Any vehicle left unattended at one location in the public right-of-way for 48 hours or longer is considered abandoned and will be subject to tow and storage at the owner's expense. Inoperable Vehicles: Any inoperable vehicle (including those with expired license plate tags) can not be parked in public view.
Designated Parking: All cars must be parked in a designated parking area which means you are not allowed to park your vehicle on your lawn or sidewalk. Stop Signs & Intersections: You are not allowed to park within 20 feet of a stop sign or 30 feet of an intersection.
Curbs: All vehicles parked along the street must be parked within 12 inches of the curb. Trailers & Mobile Homes: Trailers and mobile homes can not be parked on the street.

Nuisance Gatherings
If you are having a party and your guests destroy neighboring property (ie, broken items, trash and litter, public urination, vandalism, etc.), the Nuisance Gathering Ordinance makes YOU responsible for the damage caused. The Nuisance Gathering citation is a misdemeanor criminal offense and carries up to a $1,000 fine with a possibility of jail time or community services hours. In addition, you might be responsible for paying the costs of police and fire personnel overtime, cost of repairs to city streets, and the cost of clean-up and or repairing any damage to neighboring property.

Riots
Riots are taken very seriously here in Fort Collins! You might be surprised to learn that in Fort Collins a riot is defined as "a public disturbance involving three or more people whose conduct creates a danger of damage or injury to people or property or substantially disrupts the performance of any government function." In other words a riot can take place with as few as three people participating.

If you are involved in a riot, the punishment includes a $1,000 fine and/or 12 months in jail as well as mandatory suspension from any state university in Colorado for at least a year.

You should be aware that if you are caught watching a riot you will still be considered to be involved and face similar punishments. The best option if you see a riot is to walk away.

If you live in a house that has multiple violations, there is a chance the house is becoming a "public nuisance property." When this happens, a letter is sent to the tenants as well as the owner of the property requiring an immediate fix of the problem. This law can result in additional fines as well as eviction if the landlord chooses. A property becomes a "public nuisance property" if it has:

  • Two citations of the same kind in 6 months (for example, two noise citations)
  • Three citations of any kind in one year (for example, one weeds citation, one trash citation, and one parking citation)
  • Five citations of any kind in two years

It is important to remember that citations stay with the house, not with the tenant. This means that if you move into a house that has a long record of citations, you can end up being the one evicted or charged extra fines, even if it is your first citation in that home. To prevent this, we suggest you contact Neighborhood Services with the City of Fort Collins, before signing a lease on any property. If you tell them the address of the rental you are considering, they can check its history and let you know how many citations it already has. The number to call is 970-221-6676. To visit their website, go to: www.fcgov.com/neighborhoodservices/.

For the majority of rentals within the city limits of Fort Collins, it is illegal to have more than 3 unrelated people living together under one roof. In the case of a family, they are allowed to live with one additional unrelated person. This law is taken very seriously in Fort Collins. There is even a person working for the city whose sole job it is to investigate reports of over-occupancy. If you are found in violation of this law you will be given at most 30 days to correct the situation. If the situation is not corrected within that time frame the resulting fine can be up to $1,000 per person per day.

There are some exceptions to this law such as certain apartments with four bedrooms. Some of these apartments include: Ram's Village, Campus Crossing at Ram's Pointe, and the Heritage Park Apartments (you can find the others listed on the Apartment Complex List). There are also a limited number of houses that have been granted special permission to rent to more than three unrelated people. If you are looking to rent with a landlord who claims their property has special permission for over-occupancy, you can check this approved over-occupancy list or you can contact our office at 970.491.2248 or ocl@colostate.edu to confirm. In the case of multi-unit buildings such as duplexes or town homes you can have up to three unrelated people living in each unit.

If you would like to learn more about this law, visit this link at the Fort Collins City Website.

It is important to remember that as a tenant you have rights! There are certain standards landlords are expected to uphold at no extra charge or inconvenience to you. These standards include:

  1. Rental housing must be weather protected to provide shelter for the occupants.
  2. All dwelling units must have a kitchen and a bathroom, both with sinks that supply hot and cold running water.
  3. One bathroom must have a bathtub or shower, sink and toilet, and must ensure privacy.
  4. Basement apartments built after October 1945, and ALL housing built after October 1958, requires minimum window area for light and ventilation.
  5. Stairs, hallways and exits which serve more than one unit must always be lighted (natural or artificial).
  6. Every rented apartment, lodging or room must have direct access outside OR to a public corridor that leads directly to an exterior exit.
  7. Exits must be maintained in a safe condition and in accordance with the applicable code when the unit was legally authorized for construction.
  8. In case of fire, it’s crucial that all bedrooms below the fourth story have an operable exterior emergency exit window or door.
  9. Such emergency exits in bedrooms created after October 1958 must:
    • Be able to be opened from the inside without special tools or knowledge.
    • Have a clear opening no higher than 48” above the floor.
    • Have a minimum clear opening area of 5 square feet.
  10. All bedrooms below grade level must be provided with escape windows that provide a clear opening of at least 5 square feet, and a maximum clear opening height of 48 inches above the floor.
  11. All doors and windows used for ventilation must have screens from April 1st to November 1st to protect against insects (West Nile Virus), provided at time of lease signing.
  12. All windows and exterior doors must have security locks. Windows must operate smoothly, and be capable of being held open by the window hardware.
  13. Smoke alarms must be installed in each story of the dwelling, in all bedrooms, in halls and areas that are in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
  14. All habitable rooms, including bathrooms, must have permanent heating facilities capable of maintaining an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees.
  15. Portable kerosene, propane heaters or non-vented gas heaters are dangerous and prohibited.
  16. All gas-fired heating equipment must:
    • Have an automatic safety fuel-shutoff.
    • Have an accessible manual fuel-shutoff.
    • Have a listed appliance fuel connector.
    • Be connected to an improved chimney or vent.
    • Have adequate combustion air.
    • Not have the only access to the equipment through a bedroom or bathroom unless the equipment is sealed-combustion or is in an enclosed room with direct outside combustion air.
  17. A forced-air heating system cannot be used to heat more than one dwelling. Not having separate forced air heating systems or independent control of your heat is a big red flag that your rental may not be legal!
  18. All dwelling units with gas-fired heating equipment and/or attached garages must be provided with carbon monoxide detectors.
  19. Stairs from basement apartments and stairs serving more than one unit must be at least 30” wide with 75” of headroom, and must have handrails.
  20. All electrical equipment and appliances must be maintained and safe according to the following:
    • All habitable rooms must have at least two electrical outlets.
    • Outlets within reach of laundry appliances and piping must be electrically grounded.
    • Lights in bathrooms and laundry areas must have wall switches or non-conductive pulls.
    • Outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and exterior must be protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s).
    • Branch circuits, feeder panels, etc. must be protected by properly sized fuses or circuit breakers.
    • Extension cords wired directly to permanent wiring, inside walls, through floors, under carpets, etc. are prohibited.
    • Plumbing, fire sprinklers, structural members, foundations, floors, walls, roofs, masonry fireplaces and chimneys must be maintained in safe condition.

If you are concerned that your rental does not meet these standards you can call the City's Building Code Services at (970) 416-2305 and they will do a free inspection for you. For more information about the Minimum Habitability Standards in Fort Collins, see pages 29-35 of the Landlord Tenant Handbook.

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