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Colorado Landlord/Security Deposit question

RavynBlackheartRavynBlackheart Registered User regular
edited December 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I had two tenants leave my property today and dropped off the keys today (Nov 30th 2011). They made no effort in cleaning the place, there is cat hair, litter and food all over the floors, there is a large stain on the carpet, shredded toilet paper or paper towel in the bathroom, the toilet is gross, the sink is as well, and they left the fridge uncleaned and with food in it. I do not have pictures of the area prior to them moving in, but it was cleaned very thoroughly before they moved in. In the lease it does state that the property needs to be left in as good as condition as when they moved in, less wear and tear. I did buy a news paper and took photos and video of the area today and am going to call a cleaning company to give me an estimate as to how much it would be to clean the area. As a landlord am I allowed to take that cleaning out of the deposit? and if it goes beyond the amount of the deposit, does the rest come out of my pocket? Links would be very helpful pertaining to any of the responses given. I am in Colorado, as the thread title states.

RavynBlackheart on

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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    I'm pretty sure stuff like that is exactly what the security deposit is for.
    If the cost exceeds the deposit, you could try taking the tenants to small claims court for the difference but without a photo record of the condition when they moved in you'll have a hard time proving they're at fault.

    I'm not a lawyer or a landlord though, and have learned that just because something makes sense doesn't mean it's right.

  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    see317 wrote:
    I'm pretty sure stuff like that is exactly what the security deposit is for.
    If the cost exceeds the deposit, you could try taking the tenants to small claims court for the difference but without a photo record of the condition when they moved in you'll have a hard time proving they're at fault.

    I'm not a lawyer or a landlord though, and have learned that just because something makes sense doesn't mean it's right.

    I am not an expert nor am I a lawyer, but I do live in Colorado. Every place that I have moved into has had a walk-through sheet that I have to complete and sign saying that everything is in good working order. If I sign off on it and there are issues when I move out the landlord uses that as proof that I made the damage/dirt/etc.

    If you didn't do that it's an idea for next time you rent. As for this, cleaning above wear and tear does normally come out of the deposit. Again, not expert, but I think that painting the walls and cleaning the carpets falls under wear and tear as it's presumed that you have to do that before a new tenant moves in anyhow.

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  • ToxTox I kill threads he/himRegistered User regular
    Also, regarding move-in inspections, put something in the lease where they have a certain number of days after they sign the lease to fill out and return the form to you.

    (this is all assuming you're not already doing this, so if you are, there's your proof of the condition it was in when they moved in)

    Generally those forms have three columns: Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, Requires Attention.

    Satisfactory means good to go, no comments or anything out of the ordinary

    Unsat is for things like carpet stains. Something that's being documented so the tenant is not responsible, but not something you should feel obligated to address.

    Requires Attention is for something that's broken or inoperable at move-in. Like if the dishwasher doesn't work, or a window screen is broken/missing.


    Just send them a letter detailing the issues you were required to correct at move-out, and inform them of how much it's going to cost, then inform them of either A) how much, if any, of the deposit they will be receiving; or B) how much more they owe you for the repairs/clean up.

    It wouldn't hurt to have the letter sent some official method, like delivery confirmation or signature confirmation. You should also include a copy of the letter in your records of the tenant, and make sure you have copies of any and all repair requests they made while they lived there, along with invoices or whatever proof you can provide of what was done about it and when.

    It wouldn't hurt at all to talk to some sort of property lawyer. In fact, it wouldn't even be a terrible idea to hire one on retainer as your official representation in matters like this. You're effectively a business person, it never hurts to have formal legal counsel available.

    Obviously I'm not a lawyer, but I've been a tenant for many, many years, and this is exactly the sort of thing I've always understood deposits to be for (in addition to if they skip out on you). However, review the lease agreement and make sure the language regarding the deposit states as much. If it clearly states the deposit is only for if they skip out on rent, then they can take you to small claims if you don't give them the total amount (not that they'd win, but they could try).

    Good luck.

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  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    I had two tenants leave my property today and dropped off the keys today (Nov 30th 2011). They made no effort in cleaning the place, there is cat hair, litter and food all over the floors, there is a large stain on the carpet, shredded toilet paper or paper towel in the bathroom, the toilet is gross, the sink is as well, and they left the fridge uncleaned and with food in it. I do not have pictures of the area prior to them moving in, but it was cleaned very thoroughly before they moved in. In the lease it does state that the property needs to be left in as good as condition as when they moved in, less wear and tear. I did buy a news paper and took photos and video of the area today and am going to call a cleaning company to give me an estimate as to how much it would be to clean the area. As a landlord am I allowed to take that cleaning out of the deposit? and if it goes beyond the amount of the deposit, does the rest come out of my pocket? Links would be very helpful pertaining to any of the responses given. I am in Colorado, as the thread title states.

    First off, what does your lease say? Second, what does state and/or city tenancy law say about application of deposits?

    Without a walkthrough sheet or pre-tenancy photos, a court will likely assume you handed the property over in at least a mediocre condition - in general repair and generally empty, if not antiseptic or recently remodeled. If there's food in the fridge, that kind of thing, they aren't going to assume that was there at time of move in. You can help assure this assumption by having secondary photos of the grounds and common areas showing them to be in generally good repair.

    The good news is generally, you CAN use deposits for cleaning and repairs. In some states you can't use them for skipped rent (oddly) or you may have an obligation to put them in an interest bearing account separate from your general funds.

    A brief googlin' says you have 30 days (extensible to 60 by express clause in your lease/rental agreement) to send them an itemized, written breakdown of your use of deposits, along with any remaining deposit.

    I would do this by a certified letter or certificate of mailing to either their forwarding or last known good address. If money remains for them after cleaning, make several attempts to return it to them in good faith.

    Protip: Bill for your own cleaning time at a competitive, but not exorbitant, hourly rate. I'd say 8-10 an hour. You don't want to soak them, but you want to ding them for wasting your time.

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