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Can I file a lawsuit against my landlord for unfit property conditions and for being told we are not permitted to cut dead trees on the property to use in the wood burning fireplace for warmth?

Asked by user in Colorado.

We are being evicted. We verbally agreed to vacate once the moratorium is lifted, which we provided a declaration to the landlord as instructed. Utilities were cut off as of 12/11/20 due to nonpayment. I informed the landlord today that we are far from being able to vacate as planned. The landlord came to the property and told us we were not allowed to cut or use any of her trees for firewood. What do I do?

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

I’m sorry you’re going through a difficult time.

A landlord cannot legally evict you (deny access to the property, change the locks, or remove your possessions) without a court order. As you know, the CDC has halted residential evictions for nonpayment of rent through March 31, 2021. This rent moratorium may be extended by the federal government or local government at some point.

In the meantime, it sounds like your utilities have been turned off. In most cases, you can work out a payment plan with the utility company that will result in your utilities being turned back on. If this is unsuccessful, Colorado has some resources that may help. The Colorado Department of Human Services provides payment assistance to low-income customers through the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). For more information, call 1-866-432-8435 or visit their website. Energy Outreach Colorado provides payment assistance beyond that offered by LEAP. You can learn more here.

Unfortunately, a tenant is almost never permitted to cut down or use trees on the property without the landlord’s permission. Nevertheless, you might consider reaching out to Colorado Legal Services, which provides free legal help to qualifying individuals around the state, to see if you have any other options.

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