Disputes between tenants and landlords often come to fruition at the conclusion
of a lease. These disputes tend to revolve around the amount a landlord
retains from a tenant’s security deposit. Fortunately, in Colorado,
the legislature has armed tenants with a remedy for wrongful retention
of a security deposit.
Colorado Revised Statute § 38-12-103 establishes a strict set of parameters
that pertain to the retention of a security deposit. Under C.R.S. §
38-12-103(1), a landlord has one month from the termination of a lease
to return a tenant’s security deposit. This deadline can be extended
in a lease to a longer time period, but it cannot exceed sixty days from
the termination of the lease.
If a landlord has grounds for retaining a portion of a security deposit,
he or she must provide a written statement to the tenant listing the exact
reasons why a portion of the deposit was retained. If a landlord fails
to provide a written statement within the deadline, a landlord forfeits
the right to retain any portion of the deposit.
In the event that a landlord retains a portion of a security deposit and
provides a written statement within the applicable deadline, tenants still
have potential remedies. These remedies pertain to situations where a
landlord retains too much of the deposit. If a tenant disputes the validity
of a landlord’s reasoning for retaining a security deposit, a tenant
can file suit to recover the portion of the deposit that was wrongfully retained.
Before filing suit, a tenant must provide written notice to the landlord
that the tenant intends to file suit to recover a portion of the deposit.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the tenant is free to file
a lawsuit. In this action, the landlord has the burden of proving that
he or she properly retained the security deposit. In the event that a
landlord fails meet this burden of proof, a tenant can recover treble
damages in addition to reasonable attorney fees and court costs. This
means that a tenant who succeeds in this action can recover three times
the amount of the deposit that was wrongfully retained as well as the
attorney fees and court costs incurred in filing suit.
If you believe that your landlord has wrongfully retained a portion of
your security deposit,
call our attorneys at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin. We can help you determine whether
your landlord has complied with C.R.S. § 38-12-103 and whether you
can pursue an action to recover the portion of your security deposit that
was wrongfully retained.