New Colorado Law Suppresses Eviction Records
As of December 1, 2020, any court records associated with an eviction filing in Colorado must be suppressed until the case actually results in an eviction, which is about half of the cases filed. Upon eviction, both parties still can agree to keep the court records private.
An eviction filing is not the same as an eviction and may not accurately reflect a tenant’s history. Prior to December 1, eviction filings, regardless of the outcome, automatically created court records that could be acquired by third-party screening companies to produce tenant reports for landlords. These court records could be used to deny housing, even when an eviction case was dismissed for being unfounded or retaliatory. As a result, the threat of an eviction filing discouraged many tenants from defending their rights.
The new Colorado state law (HB20-1009 Suppressing Court Records Of Eviction Proceedings) requires courts to suppress records of eviction cases while they are moving through the court process and to keep them hidden if the tenant is not evicted. According to the Eviction Lab, between 2000 and 2016 there were 36,240 evictions filed in Colorado, but only 18,195 of the filings resulted in an eviction.
The Eviction Lab (https://evictionlab.org/) at Princeton University has built a nationwide database of evictions that goes back to 2000. The Eviction Lab was started by Matthew Desmond, author of the book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. With the support of the Gates, JPB, and Ford Foundations, as well as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Desmond founded the Eviction Lab in 2017.