Ask your Local Officials to Suspend Rental Late Fees!

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: September 18, 2020

The City of Broomfield recently became the first city in Colorado to suspend rental late fees when tenants are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We applaud Broomfield for taking this important step to keep families housed during the pandemic.  

Rental late fees are often due immediately and increase the risk that a family will be evicted. Millions of families are already struggling to pay rent and are at risk of being evicted right now due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. According to research from the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project and the Aspen Institute, it is estimated that more than 390,000 Colorado renters are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30.  

Eviction has negative impacts on children’s health and academic outcomes, and on their social-emotional development. Families who are evicted are more likely to experience homelessness or be forced to move into poor-quality housing. Mothers who were evicted in the previous year have higher rates of maternal depression, which affects their children’s healthy development and also affects mothers’ ability to work and provide for their children.  

We hope that other communities across Colorado will follow Broomfield’s example and suspend rental late fees. Local policymakers in your community need to hear from you on this issue! Reach out to your local officials and ask them to enact a moratorium on rental late fees in your community. You can use the sample email below to contact them:  

Sample email text:  

Dear [Local Government Official],  

Due to the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many Colorado renters are at high risk of eviction, displacement, and homelessness. One of the factors that contributes to this risk is the common practice of landlords imposing often-exorbitant rental late fees if a payment is not made on time. Governor Polis had suspended rental late fees from May 1st through June 13th, but this statewide moratorium has lapsed. Therefore, even tenants who are able to catch up on rent may be evicted if they have unpaid late fees.   

The resumption of rental late fees has also strained the limited financial resources that are intended to protect housing for both tenants and landlords. Since there are no state limitations on late fees, tenants may be charged any amount immediately once a payment is considered late. This practice is contributing to widespread housing insecurity.  

Fortunately, local officials like yourself have the power to help. On August 11th, the City of Broomfield made history by becoming the first municipality in Colorado to suspend late fees. Under this new law, tenants who provide documentation of a COVID-related hardship are not to be charged late fees until Nov. 1st or until the state of emergency declaration is lifted. You can find a link to the ordinance here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10ie8Toid-I4iODUI5QZ428wkLOf4PDXx/view. This law was proposed on a temporary basis and passed in a matter of weeks as an emergency ordinance.   

This policy provides a framework for other local governments to take swift action to protect their residents. I urge you to follow their example by passing a temporary moratorium on rental late fees. Thank you for your consideration!  

Sincerely,  

[Your Name]  

How can I find contact information for my local elected officials?

You can find email contact information for the mayor and city council members in your community by using the links below:

Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Manager of Special Policy Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she works across the organization and with external stakeholders to develop and oversee the implementation of the Campaign’s engagement on strategic policy priorities Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member.