May 10, 2023 - News

Denver starts fining landlords operating without rental license

Illustration of apartment doorbells with an intercom shaped like a dollar sign.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver issued its first fines Wednesday to apartment complexes operating without a license.

Driving the news: 36 multi unit residential properties received a $150 fine, excise and licenses spokesperson Eric Escudero tells us.

  • Those could increase to up to $999 if landlords aren't compliant.

Yes, but: Escudero said the number of fines, which his office sees as a last resort effort for compliance, are "fewer" than they expected to issue.

Catch up quick: In February, Denver officials said they would begin enforcing the licensing program after a law requiring all multi unit rental properties to get a license went into effect this year.

  • The office at the time said it would target properties with current or previous public health complaints.
  • Multi unit properties include those with two or more units, like apartment complexes.

Details: Landlords in Denver are required to obtain an inspection from a third-party company before applying for a license, which is required for any property being rented.

  • The inspection is needed to ensure the property has minimal housing standards, which was a primary reason why the local lawmakers wanted to require landlords to get licenses.
  • Single unit rentals, like homes or condos, need to get licenses too, but they have until January 1, 2024 to get one.

By the numbers: As of Thursday, 5,874 rental licenses for multi unit and single unit rental properties have been issued, with 424 pending applications.

  • A majority of those (3,900) were issued to multi unit properties, and together with single unit licenses, there are now roughly 120,000 individual residential units licensed in Denver, Escudero tells us.

What they're saying: "Not only is the city processing a mass amount of business license applications, we are also processing them very quickly," Escudero tells us, adding 68% of them are processed within a week, and 91% within 30 days.

  • The licenses provide accountability, Escudero said, as they could be revoked if landlords don't maintain minimum living standards.

Of note: Renters can verify online to see whether the place they're living is licensed.


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