PUEBLO, CO — Before they see the keys to a home, people applying for places to rent in Pueblo say they’re handing over money they can’t afford to lose. In many cases their applications are denied and the money is gone. This is another barrier for people looking for a place to live without many options.
”It’s just so hard and then getting pushed by your landlord to get out because he wants to sell his property,” said Christine Cruz. ”I’m wanting to give up. That’s how I’m feeling right now.”
Cruz reached out to News5 because she has spent hundreds of dollars in rental application fees, just to be told there is not a place for her.
”I’m going and putting these applications in, but I want to stop because I’ve wasted a lot of money,” said Cruz. ”I just need some help. I have the deposit and the rent to get a place.”
The housing experts at Posada Pueblosaid they are constantly hearing stories like Cruz's and are working to find funding and resources to help, but securing a place to live in Pueblo is tough right now.
”I’ve been doing this for eight and a half years. When I first started this career I could probably house somebody in less than two weeks. It’s taking me almost six months to find housing for a lot of folks,” said Veronica Gold of Posada Pueblo.
Testimonies like Cruz’s show the cost of even applying for housing has become an expensive barrier.
”I think a lot of these funds are being used as an income source for these property management companies,” said Gold.
She said it’s become an income source because applicants may not be questioning how their application fees are being used. This is why experts say it is important for potential tenants to know their rights when it comes to the transparency of this process and application fee refunds.
”They are able to apply to different places, but I don’t think that they know they can get those application fees back and landlords have laws they have to follow,” said Gold.
By state law, if you are denied housing after paying a rental application fee the landlord must put it in writing with an explanation as to why. They also must also provide an itemized statement with how your fee was used and return any funds not used to process the application.
If the landlord is not in compliance they could have to pay the applicant three times that application fee in return.
Cruz said none of her application fee dollars were ever refunded to her. News5 has connected her with housing experts to help, but the reality of her situation is that every dollar and every passing day matters.
”If I have to go to a homeless shelter or live in my car I guess I’ll have to do that,” said Cruz.
Colorado lawmakers are taking steps to address how expensive rental applications can be. This session they just passed a new law that would allow potential renters to pay for and use a universal screening report, just one, that can be used to apply at multiple properties for 30 days. This is expected to go into effect in the next few months.
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