Residential Rental License Programs: Boulder Vs Denver

Date Published: December 15, 2022

If you are a property manager or landlord in the Boulder or Denver area, you are certainly aware of residential rental licenses. As a refresher, rental homes in the city of Boulder and city of Denver must meet a list of criteria in order to be deemed safe and habitable. The properties must be inspected by a qualified rental inspector and then the completed inspection report must be sent with an application to the city.

Rental home licensing has been a long-standing requirement in the city of Boulder. However, it is still a fairly recent policy in Denver, and it is still in the process of being rolled out. Licenses are now required for all multi-family properties. And then in January 2024, all single-family units must be licensed.

The Denver and Boulder residential rental programs are similar in many ways, but they do have some distinct differences. So, as a landlord or property manager in the area, it helps to know the distinctions – especially if you have properties in both jurisdictions. Let’s dive in!

A multi-unit rental property in Denver that will require a rental license inspection.

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Denver’s Rental License Program vs. Boulder’s Rental License Program

Requirement Denver Boulder
  • Each unit must have a safe means of egress to ground level
  • Stairways and porches must be in good condition
  • All exits must be kept clear
Same requirements
Lighting in multi-unit dwellings Every public hallway or stairway must have a minimum of 100 lux of illumination. Every public hallway or stairway shall be illuminated at all times with at least 765 lumens for each 200 square feet of floor area, provided spacing between lights does not exceed 30 feet.
Outdoor Lighting No requirements
  • No device which makes light in excess of levels specified is present (BRC 9.9.16(e))
  • Exterior light fixtures must meet requirements for Design Standards (BRC 9.9.16(d))
Water systems Dwellings must be connected to an approved water source. Same requirement
Water heat Unit must have a minimum water temp of 110°F. Water heat must be working properly.
Gas-Fired Water Heater Location Water heater must not be installed in any bathroom, toilet room, room used for sleeping purposes, or in any room or space not properly ventilated. Same requirement
Water Heater with Pressure/Temp Relief Valve Required Required
Toilets/Bathtubs/Showers In good condition, functioning properly and connected to approved water and sewer system. Same requirement
  • Must be installed correctly and in an approved manner
  • No makeshift outlets or wiring
  • No frayed or exposed wiring
Same requirement
 GFCI outlets At least one GFCI outlet required in all bathrooms. Same requirement
Smoke detectors
  • Inside each bedroom
  • Outside each bedroom (a single detector may cover multiple bedroom entrances if the detector is within 15 ft of each entrance)
  • On every occupiable level including the basement
Same requirement (must be reinspected)
CO detectors All units must have at least one carbon monoxide detector. Same requirement (must be reinspected)
Fire extinguishers For single family homes – Fire extinguisher should be located within 30 feet of the primary cooking equipment used in the home.

For multi-family properties – Fire extinguishers must be located within 75 feet of every unit entrance or one fire extinguisher should be provided to each unit.

Portable fire extinguishers shall be installed in structures containing three or more rental units with interior corridors and/or common areas.
Furnace Room Basement or cellar used for living purposes must be entirely separated from any furnace room by at least 1-hour fire resistive material. Gas fired furnaces accessed through bedrooms and bathrooms and not otherwise approved for those locations shall be provided with a solid weather-stripped door equipped with a self-closing device. All combustion air shall be taken from outside the building and ducted to the room containing the furnace.
Boiler/Furnace Safety Boilers and furnaces must have approved safety devices. Same requirement
Gas Supply Lines Gas lines must be in good condition with no leaks. Same requirement
Roof and Walls Foundation walls, exterior walls, roofs shall be free from holes, cracks, breaks, deteriorated paint, decay. Same requirement
Lead hazards and water intrusion hazards All floors, interior walls, ceilings, etc. shall be free from mold associated with dampness, loose or peeling paint, lead hazards, loose or peeling plaster or wallpaper. The interior and equipment therein shall be maintained in good repair, and in sanitary condition.
Structure – Below Grade Units The floor and walls of basement units must be impervious to leakage and free from dampness. Not specific to below grade units. The exterior of a structure shall be maintained so as not to pose a threat to public health, safety or welfare.
Foundation Piers, columns, posts and other below grade foundation members shall be securely placed and free from decay and breaks. Same requirement
Trash Removal Solid waste shall be removed from the premises on a regular basis that prevents accumulation and pests. Trash removal not specified
Pest Control Dwelling must be free of any pest infestation. Pests and pest control devices shall be removed from the premises, as necessary, to prevent accumulation. Pest control not specified
Heating Requirements Heating facilities must be capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms and bathrooms to a minimum temp of 70°F. Heating facilities must be capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms and bathrooms to a minimum temp of 68°F.
Safe and Sanitary Property must be deemed safe and sanitary for human habitation. Same requirement
Energy Efficiency Requirements Not required All residential rental dwelling units must meet a set of energy efficiency criteria as established in SmartRegs Guidebook.
Floodplain Safety Signage No requirements Structures located in a 100- year floodplain shall be posted with a warning sign.
Occupancy Limit Signage No requirements Every rental property with fewer than five dwelling units shall have a sign posted on the inside of the main entrance to each dwelling unit stating the maximum number of unrelated individuals permitted.
Several multi-unit rental properties in Boulder that will require rental license inspections.

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Rental Inspections

As a property manager or owner, its always a great idea to familiarize yourself with rental license requirements. Though the table above outlines the overall major requirements, you can access the nitty gritty details in the respective rental license handbooks for the city of Denver and the city of Boulder. That way, when it’s time for an inspection, you’ll know what to expect and how to prepare.

Our company, Scott Rental Inspections, has been conducting rental license inspections in the Boulder area for 10+ years. We also offer SmartRegs inspections, which (as stated above) are required for Boulder rental properties, as well.

Though Denver’s residential rental program is still fairly new, we have been on board since the day it was put into effect. We have a team of certified inspectors that specialize in the Denver’s rental license code.

So, whether you have property in Denver or Boulder, we’ve got you covered. If you are in need of any rental inspection services, do not hesitate to contact us to learn more or to book your inspection today. 

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About the Author: Chris Kimmel

Chris Kimmel worked as an Associate Home Inspector for two years, handling numerous services including sewer scope inspections, pest inspections, mold air sample testing, radon testing, and water quality testing. Chris now works with Scott Home Inspection as a Content Writing Specialist.

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