At the end of the lease period, tenants may be expecting their security deposit returned to them. Whether for a commercial, residential, or agricultural lease security deposits must be returned, in full, within one month after the termination of the lease. A lease may specify a different time period, but cannot exceed 60 days. Security deposits held by the landlord must be returned unless the landlord can show specific cause as to the retention of any portion of the security deposit. If any portion of the security deposit is being retained, the landlord MUST send to the former tenant notice detailing the exact reasons for retention of the deposit. If the landlord does not send this written notice to the tenant within the time period prescribed, all rights to any portion of the security deposit are forfeit.
What If My Landlord Keeps My Security Deposit?
A landlord who wrongfully keeps a security deposit is subject to damages in the amount of three times the total security deposit plus attorney's fees and court costs. Tenants who have not had their deposit returned to them without written notice of the exact reason for retention of the security deposit may retain an attorney and file suit against their landlord and receive compensation and damages. Prior to filing suit, however, landlords are entitled to 7 days’ notice from tenant of their intention to sue in order to recover their security deposit. The courts in Colorado have justified this notice period as giving one last opportunity to the landlord to return the deposit.
Landlords may legally keep security deposits for certain reasons such as damage to the premises beyond reasonable wear and tear, unpaid rent, abandonment of premises, or nonpayment of utility bills by the tenant. These items, though, must be listed and accounted for in writing to the tenant, as discussed above. Landlords must take extra care to account for the security deposit and send to the tenant a list of these items prior to the expiration of the time period.
If you have not received your security deposit or your landlord has refused to return your security deposit, contact Denver Lease Attorney Nate Gilbert now to review your case.