Almost two months after the mandate for Denver’s residential rental licenses went into effect, the city is prepared to start fining apartment landlords who failed to meet the Jan. 1 deadline.

As of Wednesday night, 147 multi-unit properties have received notices of violation, according to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. The offending properties are ones with past and present public health complaints with the department.

Only 2,822 licenses have been issued for multi-unit rental properties in the city and county of Denver, the department reported Thursday.

The city has received more than 4,000 applications so far, but “we’re expecting about 25,000,” Excise and Licenses Executive Director Molly Duplechian said on Thursday.

If the apartment complexes in violation don’t apply for licenses by early April, they’ll face a first fine of $150, followed by a second of $500 and a third of $999.

“Enforcement action, including citations and fines, is considered a last resort of the city,” Duplechian said.

In November, the city told The Denver Post that it wouldn’t start considering enforcement for about a year. But the Excise and Licenses Department pointed to new resources they budgeted and hired for this year that allows the team to begin enforcement, Duplechian said.

Although the program was first launched last March, it faced hurdles to ramping up. Landlords and even inspectors pointed to a convoluted application process, a lack of inspectors at one point and general ignorance about the program.

Now, the city can refer applicants to an online list with 37 companies and individuals who can perform the inspections required to get licenses. The Excise and Licenses Department also said it had simplified the application process.

Among the multi-unit rental properties in violation is Cedar Run Apartments at 888 S. Oneida St. in south Denver. Tenants decided to informally organize recently after facing a litany of problems: no heat, no hot water, cockroaches, leaks, black mold and more.

The health department has received about 12 complaints since the beginning of 2022 about the complex, including heat and water issues. Cedar Run’s notice was issued on Feb. 16, with a compliance date of April 3.

Other properties on the notice list include AMLI at Uptown at 1633 N. Pearl St., Belcourt Apartments at 1415 E. 9th Ave. and Camelot at 1084 N. Clarkson St.

Duplechian said her team wants to ensure Denver renters “have the comfort and the protection of knowing that their property is required to provide them with hot water, heating, those types of things.”

Single-unit rental landlords still have until the start of 2024 to obtain their licenses, which remain valid for four years. The department said 1,005 single-unit properties have already secured licenses.

Duplechian leaves multi-unit property management with a warning:

“We do have a robust plan for enforcement and progressive discipline if people continue to not get licensed,” she said. “If they haven’t heard from us, they will be in the next couple of months or sooner.”

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