Filed Under (Leases and Landlord Tenant) on 11-03-2011
Colorado landlords are sometimes confused about security deposits. They wonder when to return them and what they can withhold.
Here are some basics you need to know
• Unless the lease says otherwise, you have 30 days to return the security deposit and/or provide a written detail of the amounts withheld. (The longest a Colorado lease can extend that period is 60 days). The clock begins ticking when the lease ends or when the tenant surrenders (and landlord accepts) the property, whichever comes last.
• You can only keep money from the security deposit for:
o Repairs made to the property to fix damage that occurred during the tenant’s lease (beyond normal wear and tear);
o Cleaning beyond normal wear and tear (think professional carpet cleaning, professionally laundered drapes, or grease removal in the kitchen);
o Unpaid utility charges (if the lease specifies that your tenant is responsible for utilities);
o And, barring other circumstances, covering the rent if your tenant breaks the lease or owes back rent.
• You cannot deduct money for normal wear and tear.
• If you deduct money from the security deposit, when you return the remainder, if any, you must include a written statement itemizing the deductions. The statement could be titled “Security Deposit Refund Statement” and include things like the property location, the period of the lease, the total credit of the security deposit, and a list of costs deducted. You do not need to provide copies of receipts for the work done.
• You must mail the check and security deposit statement to the tenants’ last known address. Practically speaking, this is your tenant’s forwarding address. If your tenant did not leave a forwarding address, you should mail the security deposit to the tenant at your rental property address.
If the security deposit and/or statement are returned unclaimed, or unable to forward, don’t open the letter. Put it in a safe place, as this is your proof that you followed the law.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Colorado law regarding security deposits favors the tenant. If you fail to return the security deposit by the 30-day deadline or fail to send an itemized security deposit statement, you could be held liable for treble damages (three times the amount of the security deposit) plus reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.
For more information, see The Landlord & Tenant Guide to Colorado Leases and Evictions, 5th Edition, by Victor M. Grimm, Esq. and Denise E. Grimm.