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As a Landlord in Colorado When Can I Withhold Part of the Security Deposit

If you rent property in Denver, Colorado Springs, or any Colorado community, you likely take steps to protect yourself as a landlord. You may vet renters carefully, get insurance on your property, and conduct inspections of your property between tenants.

One resource Colorado landlords have is the security deposit. This is an amount of money you can ask for from a tenant before they move in, to cover any potential damages or losses. It can protect you, but there are Colorado laws about withholding money from a security deposit, even if you have just cause. It's also not uncommon for landlord-tenant disputes to happen in Colorado over security deposits. Sometimes, landlords and renters disagree about what is and isn't reasonable.

If you need help from a lawyer in Colorado because of your situation, you can always contact Flaxman Law Group in Denver at 970-999-0530 for a consultation with a Colorado landlord-tenant dispute lawyer. Our offices in Denver serve the entire state and we're always happy to review what your legal options might be.

Understanding Your Rights

In Colorado, there is no state limit on the amount you can charge for security deposit, but some municipalities do place a cap on security deposits for residential rentals, so check your county and city regulations.

When Can I Withhold Part of the Security Deposit as a Landlord in Colorado?

You can withhold part of a security deposit to cover non-payment of rent, non-payment of utilities, and to cover any responsibilities outlined in the lease agreement.

One of the most common reasons landlords in Colorado Springs, Denver, and other communities withhold security deposits is because of damage to the rental property. Unfortunately, this is also a situation where disagreements can happen.

Under Colorado law, you as a landlord can't withhold any portion of the security deposit for normal wear and tear but you can withhold a part of the security deposit or even the whole security deposit for serious damage. The challenge is that there can be confusion about what is normal wear.

In general, you can't withhold part of a security deposit for any normal deterioration of a property that happens with regular use. For example, if carpets get threadbare or there are minor scuff marks on the doors, that is normal wear and tear and it's your responsibility as a landlord.

You can, however, withhold some of the security deposit when tenants negligently or willfully do significant harm to the property. This may include:

  • Broken windows or doors
  • Holes in walls
  • Stains or burn damage on carpets
  • Missing light fixtures or other major components of the rental
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Excessive debris or large items left behind, requiring you to order junk removal
  • Missing appliances
  • Damaged appliances
  • Damage to plumbing, fixtures, or other parts of the rental
  • Unauthorized modifications, such as unauthorized painting of the walls or retiling of floors

One challenge with these types of damages is that it can cost a lot more to repair these issues than the security deposit can cover. In these cases, you may ask tenants to pay additional charges or file a claim to recover your losses. If the security deposit won't cover the losses, contact a Colorado landlord-tenant dispute lawyer promptly. You'll want legal advice to protect your investment.

How Can I Withhold a Security Deposit in Colorado?

You will withhold the security deposit when the tenant moves out, and you'll want to reduce the risk that the issue will turn into a dispute. Here's how you can do that:

  • Conduct move-in and move-out inspections so you can evaluate damage and issues.
  • Take photographs and videos of the property's condition before and after tenants move in, so you can prove when any damage happened.
  • Keep copies of all written communication with your tenant and detailed records about when rent was paid.
  • Document any repairs or maintenance you completed on the property.
  • Respond to renter requests for repairs promptly.
  • If there are damages to the rental and you plan on withholding the deposit, get quotes for repairs from a few contractors so you have an accurate estimate of what the repair costs might be.

Landlords in Colorado have one month to return the security deposit to tenants, unless the lease agreement gives them more time (not more than 60 days). If you do find you need to withhold part of a security deposit, you must provide an itemized list explaining the charges.

As a Landlord in Colorado When can I Withhold Part of the Security Deposit and When Should I Contact an Attorney?

As a landlord in Colorado, you can withhold part of a tenant's rent for property damage, non-payment of rent or utilities, or violation of the lease agreement.

If the deposit will not cover your losses or if you and your renter can't agree about what is reasonable to withhold, you can call Flaxman Law Group at 970-999-0530 for a consultation with a Colorado landlord-tenant dispute lawyer in Denver. We can review your rights and possible options.

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