A forcible entry and detainer action may be brought in either the district court or the county court where the property is located. Most residential cases are brought in the county court.
Summons & Complaint
- The landlord may file a summons and complaint, without the assistance of an attorney, in the county court. In all counties there is a filing fee. Contact the court to find out the amount of these fees.
- The complaint must state the grounds for eviction, a description of the property, the name of the tenant and a request for possession of the property. The complaint may also include a claim for back rent, accruing rent, and other damages. An answer form for the tenant to complete should accompany the Summons and Complaint.
- The summons requires the tenant to appear at the court on a given day at a certain time. The day for appearance must be no more than ten days and no less than five days from the day the summons is issued. Weekends and holidays are not included in calculating the five day time period. The summons also warns the tenant about the consequences of failing to answer the complaint and the possibility of a default judgment.
- The landlord should bring four copies of the summons and complaint to the county court. These forms can be obtained at some stationery stores or legal supply stores.
- Service of the summons and complaint is in accordance with the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Service must be made at least five days before the appearance date stated in the summons. A copy of the complaint must accompany the summons. The service may be made by the Sheriff's Office for a fee. Contact the Sheriff's Office to arrange for service.
- Service by posting is also allowed, but only after efforts to make personal service are unsuccessful. If service is made by posting, the landlord must also mail a copy by first-class mail, postage prepaid, on the same day that the complaint is filed. If service by posting is the only way that service is accomplished, the landlord can only recover possession of the unit and will not be able to get a judgment for unpaid rent or damages (unless the tenant chooses to file and answer and the landlord prevails at trial).
The tenant must file a written answer at or before the time when the tenant is ordered to appear in court. There is a fee to file an answer. The answer may deny the charges of the complaint and list any claims the tenant may have against the landlord. If the tenant does not file an answer the landlord will receive a default judgment.
At the trial, the judge may rule in favor of the landlord or the tenant. If the judgment is in the landlord's favor, the court may order the tenant not only to vacate the unit, but also to pay back rent and/or damages. Attorney's fees and court costs may be awarded to the prevailing party.
Writ of Restitution
After a judgment against the tenant, the tenant has 48 hours to vacate. After that time, the landlord can get a Writ of Restitution and deliver it to the Sheriff. The Sheriff may then forcibly evict the tenant, that is, move the tenant's possessions onto the street. Neither the Sheriff nor the landlord is under a legal duty to safeguard the tenant's possessions after they have been removed.