My former renters are taking me to small claims court for not returning their remaining damage deposit within 30 days saying I have to forfeit the full amount. I withheld money for labor to level the dirt in the yard where they put in gardens without my authorization. I asked them to take care of it before they vacated but they said the ground was too hard. The remaining deposit was provided to them by 40 days, but it is within 30 days when you account for time it took for them to pick up their trailer in my back yard and before they told me they didn't want the food anymore that they left in the freezer. I also deducted rent that they didn't pay for the last four days before they vacated. Do they have a case i n small claims court where I have to turn over the full deposit back to them?
State/Country relating to question: Colorado
Unless your lease agreement extends the time to return the deposit with the written explanation for any amount withheld, then you have only one month in which to return the deposit with any explanation. Failure to do so, forfeits your right to withhold any security.The tenant must provide at least 7 days notice of the intent to sue if the tenant wants triple damages for the amount withheld. If you return the security before the tenant sues, then you are not subject to the triple damages award.The fact that you cannot withhold the security deposit does not prevent you from suing for the damages caused by the tenant. In other words, you can return the security to the tenant, avoid any sanction by the court, and then file your own small claims suit for the repairs that you had to undertake to return the property to its original condition.Hope this helps. NOTICE: My goal here is to entertain while educating the public about the law. Your positive feedback to the website is appreciated. If you need to contact me again, please put my user id at the beginning of your question ("To Socrateaser"), and the system will send me an alert. Please Click the following link for IMPORTANT LEGAL INFORMATION. Thanks and best wishes!
You didn't answer about the fact that they didn't pay rent so I had to deduct it from rent. What about the fact that they didn't take all of their property and I had to pursue them to pick it up. Can the 30 days begin from the time that they told me they didn't want their property and I could dispose of it?
The one month return period (not 30 days) runs from "one month after the termination of a lease or surrender and acceptance of the premises, whichever occurs last." C.R.S. 38-12-103.If I were the judge, I would try to determine when the tenants returned the keys, and use that date as the start of the one month period, even if not all of the tenant's property was removed from the unit. Of course, you can claim that the tenants' failure to remove their personal property from the rental shows that they did not surrender the property -- therefore, the one month period never started. If you lose the argument in court, then you'll have to pay triple damages for the amount withheld. If you return the money and then sue, you won't have any risk.Choice is yours.Hope this helps. NOTICE: My goal here is to entertain while educating the public about the law. Your positive feedback to the website is appreciated. If you need to contact me again, please put my user id at the beginning of your question ("To Socrateaser"), and the system will send me an alert. Please Click the following link for IMPORTANT LEGAL INFORMATION. Thanks and best wishes!
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