When Can You Legally Evict Retail Tenants?

When Can You Legally Evict Retail Tenants?

Retail property owners haven’t had the easiest time adjusting to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal government have issued various moratoriums to halt both residential and retail evictions across the country.

For many real estate investors, their property investments were meant to facilitate wealth creation, provide a source of passive income, and a stable cash flow especially during economic downturns. 


An unprecedented health pandemic has paralyzed retail operations escalating investors’ fears of unending months without income.

A situation that has made many a proprietor ask, “So, when can you legally evict retail tenants?” Let’s dive deep to find out.  

The current legal situation in Colorado

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act 2020, signed into law on March 27, 2020 is an economic stimulus bill designed to provide emergency assistance to American citizens and business owners. 

This bill was meant to float business owners until the situation resolved itself. However, with lockdown measures continuing, various states and the federal government began to issue new rules governing rent issues and tenant eviction during the pandemic.

At the moment, the state of Colorado has to obey the federal ban on evictions in addition to the Executive Order proclaimed by Governor Jared Polis who has mandated that landlords cannot charge late rent fees through January 31, 2021.

As these orders keep changing, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention website will give the most recent developments.

Can you terminate the lease and legally evict tenants who can no longer pay rent?

No doubt the changes in property law have made it extremely difficult for property owners to legally evict retail tenants. 

The CARES Act bans proprietors from forfeiting retail leases because of rental defaults. Orders to regain entry into property will not be enforced. Landlords are barred from using non-payment of rent as the basis of refusing lease renewals. 

Tenants and landlords are encouraged to find workable solutions during this difficult time. Landlords may consider receiving lower rents or accept deferring rental payments to an agreed upon time. 

If no agreement can be reached, it leaves investors in an extremely difficult situation. In this case, landlords may have to consider other minor issues as the basis of forcing a forfeit of their tenant’s leases. Lawyers well-versed in retail property, property litigation, and insolvency can provide tailored advice on the best way forward. 

If you forfeit a rental lease, can you recover rent arrears?

If you go ahead with forfeiting a lease (under the direction of a lawyer) and need to recover any rent arrears, you need to know that this will only be possible if your former tenant is still solvent. 

Pressing charges against bankrupt parties or those who are in poor financial standing simply implies spending money on an (expensive) court case in which you are not likely to recover much.

The pandemic has crippled thousands of businesses and bankrupted scores more. Hence, trying to recover rent arrears is likely going to be a dead-end unless your ex-tenant has guarantors. 


In order to legally evict retail tenants, you need to be up-to-date with state and federal tenant law. Property managers working alongside property attorneys are well-positioned to assist you in this endeavor. 

Avoid legal faux pas as a landlord during this COVID-19 pandemic. Ensure your property continues to generate revenue in 2021 by working with a reliable property manager.

If you would like to discuss retail property management with a PMI property manager contact us today.