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City of Denver begins residential rental licensing enforcement

The city is focusing efforts on unlicensed, multiunit rental properties with current or previous health complaints.

DENVER — The City of Denver has started issuing notices of upcoming citations and fines to multiunit rental property addresses without a required license. Properties need to apply for a residential rental license within 45 days to avoid fines, according to the city.

The first fine is $150, according to the city. A third fine, if necessary, will cost the property owner $999. 

"We really need to set the bomb under their butts, so to speak," said Marlene Lambert, a tenant who said her heat doesn't work in a building not licensed by the city. "No matter how high I turn up the thermostat, it’s still cold."

Lambert said she sets her oven to 400 degrees. "It’s horrendous to have to live in such conditions," she said of her apartment off Federal. 

The city and county of Denver began requiring all multiunit rental properties to have a license on Jan. 1. So far, 2,822 licenses have been issued, according to the city. Denver has issued 145 notices for non-compliance since the requirement began.

“Enforcement action, including citations and fines, is considered a last resort of the city,” said Excise and Licenses Executive Director Molly Duplechian. “As the city approaches the third month since this licensing requirement began, and after extensive education and outreach efforts, we’ve begun issuing notice of violations. Our hope is that landlords and property management companies who receive communication from the city about unlawful operations will take immediate action to get an inspection and apply for a license, so we can complete our mission of ensuring minimal housing standards are met for rental properties across Denver.”

The city is focusing efforts on unlicensed properties with current or previous health complaints.

Lambert said she has complained about the issue at her apartment to property management without any action. She would move, she said, but she can't afford to.

In a statement, the company that manages her apartment said it passed an inspection last year and asked the city for help submitting the paperwork. It said any resident with maintenance issues should call the office.

Owners of single-unit rental properties are not required to have a license until January 1, 2024. There have been 1,005 single-unit properties that have already obtained a license, according to the city. Denver is offering a 50% discount on the application fee for landlords who apply for the license before the enforcement date.

The cost of getting a residential license can be found on the city's website.



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