Pleaes help me with a security deposit situation & damages after walkthrough

Colorado law states that a landlord has 30 days to return the security deposit less any damages unless it’s extended in writing in the lease which can go up to 60 days. Now, I used a lease that I don’t normally use because the people were out of state and didn’t have a fax machine. I had to use one in Word format and upon reading it over it seemed like it was stating that they had 15 days to submit a forwarding address. Upon moving out it was brought to my attention that it stated that I would refund the deposit within 15 days.

So, everything I’m reading says they are required to wait 30 days to file for anything. My question is do they have anything to go on or does state law supersede the lease in this case? They’re actually being quite rude about things and I’m less motivated to work with them. I also overlooked some damages they caused over the course of them renting it and told them the place looked fine during the move out. I haven’t yet sent them the walk out sheet so can I attach these? One example would be that he turned the sprinkler system on too soon this spring and I ended up having to replace some parts do to freezing. They also trashed a new $100 touch screen programmable thermostat and finally… my yard. It was the best yard in the neighborhood and now it’s buffalo grass and weeds. Since they’re being pricks can I deduct these items from their security deposit even though I told them the place was fine on the walk through? I didn’t give them anything in writing stating that it was fine so, even though this isn’t exactly proper they are REALLY being jerks so I no longer see the need to absorb cost the things they screwed up.

Thanks in advance for help on any or all of these topics.

We get a lot of pressure from some tenants to refund deposits right after the walk-through. Now we tell them, “Sorry, we mail out deposit refund checks after the property has been cleaned and the paperwork processed by the bookkeeper, we can’t make exceptions as it messes up our computer.” We also tell them that state law gives us 30 days to refund deposits, but we do it MUCH faster than that.

But you have told your tenant that everything was fine on the walk-through! So just give 'em the money back and move on. This is how you learn what to say next time. Just move on.


I agree with Furnishedowner - if you told them that everything looked fine, you should give them their money back. Also, if your lease says that you will return the deposit within 15 days, I would do that. Learn your lesson and do better next time. Next time, use the correct lease. Next time, don’t agree to ANYTHING at the walkout. Next time, deduct all the damage (including the lawn, sprinkler system, and thermostat). All in all, this was a relatively inexpensive lesson.

Good Luck,


Any post office box store, office supply store, xerox store, printing shop will have a fax machine for public use.

I wouldn’t use someone else’s lease, and if I had no choice, I would have certainly read it and changed anything that was unacceptible.

Your state law gives the maximum time as 30 days. Your lease says 15 days, and that time period falls well within the state law limit, so 15 days it is.

I was awfully close to stroking a check for the entire amount and then they sent an email that really got under my skin and blamed me for a lot of things that was their fault and called me lots of names so now I’m less motivated to write a check for the entire remote. I took some pictures today of ALL the little things I overlooked when they moved out and I even got a quote from a landscaping company on repairing the damages they caused to the yard and boarder. This last quote alone was almost five hundred dollars. The stove was not cleaned nor was the microwave and two of the toilets. There were holes in the walls from doors and scratches/gouges in cabinets and drawers. I feel as though these are things that they should be held accountable for. I know you all say to let things slide but maybe you are in a better situation financially to where these things aren’t a big deal. I dunno. Would I be wrong for creating an itemized list and deducting it from the security deposit and sending a check with the list via certified mail Friday so it arrives Saturday by the end of the month? I mean, isn’t that what a security deposit is for? I was willing to overlook these things when they were nice people but now they are getting downright nasty. Why wouldn’t I follow procedure?

Would I be wrong for creating an itemized list and deducting it from the security deposit and sending a check with the list via certified mail Friday so it arrives Saturday by the end of the month? I mean, isn't that what a security deposit is for? I was willing to overlook these things when they were nice people but now they are getting downright nasty. Why wouldn't I follow procedure?

You wouldn’t be wrong from a legal aspect. You would only be wrong from a moral aspect - since you told the tenant that everything was fine. The moral issue is entirely in your head - meaning that you can do whatever you feel comfortable with.

Good Luck,


I see what you’re saying but as I stated they’ve really gone out of their way to accuse me of things I haven’t done, threaten litigation, question my character and now drag my name through the mud. Suddenly my conscience isn’t as concerned with this being immoral as it would have before. As I already stated, had they not done any of this I would have stroked them a check for the entire amount. They think they can beat their chests and use scare tactics to bully people into doing things their way and, in this case I have the law on my side and feel that I should use this to keep money for repairs and teach them a valuable lesson. My only worry is the fact that the lease said 15 days and it will be almost a month until they get their deposit back.

If this goes to small claims will they disallow my itemized list of deductions if the deposit was late by the lease or by state law which is a month unless extended to 60 days in the lease?

Judge is probably going to hold you to the 15 days. It’s your job to understand the contracts you use. You can withhold full damages and try your luck in court if they sue or just settle. Most likely, they will just accept your accounting and move on.

You made a mistake doing the walkthrough and saying everything was OK. That is true. BUT, they did damage the place. And their being jerks to beat, so why give them anything for free?

Forget those losers!

Bill them for every dollar that you can. I would take photos & be very detailed in your documentation, and then send them a check for the difference with a good explanation to what they destroyed as well. I wouldn’t hold the entire $500, just give back something like $50 or $100 if your damages are “possibly” close to $500…that way they can’t say you are keeping their entire deposit and trying to scam them.

I would do it within 15 days though!

That’s the problem: We’re already past the 15 days. If I was within the 15 days still I wouldn’t even be second guessing this.

I’ve made the decision to just write the check for the full deposit amount and send it via certified mail. Reason being is I had a reminder from a friend that I had another issue where I had every right to take previous tenants to court. Ultimately, through advice from members of this forum, I decided to just let it go and I’m glad I did. I was scrolling through the phone book in my cell phone and last night deleted both of their phone numbers and it dawned on me that I wrote them out of my life by letting the deadline pass to file a claim against them. They’re out of my life 100% and had I gone forward with ‘teaching them a lesson’ I would still be dealing with those scum bags to this day. Same thing here, it will cost me more money but as soon as I cut this check and mail it I can delete them from my life completely and, in essence, I’m buying my sanity with this check. Sure I could try to keep about $700 of the $1,500 based on the pictures/list I have but there’s a good chance I will be holding that money for a few weeks until we go to small claims court when a magistrate says that I violated the contract and they are due the entire $1,500. Even worse, what if they were granted treble damages? Yikes.

I think I will, once again, swallow my pride and let them think they won and write a check for the full amount. Man, I sure hope my karma comes back to repay me sooner than later because I sure could use it.

Time out: I was just preparing to go to the Post Office to send a certified letter with a check and realized something… they haven’t supplied me with a forwarding address that I can find. In the contract it says specifically that they have to provide a forwarding address which they clearly haven’t done. If I can’t find it then I seriously doubt they have anything proving they supplied it. Is this enough of a loop hole to allow me to keep the ENTIRE security deposit??

Time out #2: I also just realizes that the lease they have is OVER A YEAR OLD. In other words, we signed a one year lease that expired Sept 2007 and specifically states that at this time this agreement is terminated.

I completely forgot that I did them a favor because they were building a house and weren’t sure when they would be done and receive a certificate of occupancy. They asked when they first moved in and I stated their rent would go up $100/mo and they could give me a 30 day notice. The end of the lease came and went and they never came to talk to me and I never increased their rent either.

So, if the lease expired almost a year ago what recourse would they have if I simply did not return the security deposit?

Not really. Only a few states have a law that requires it. Send the accounting to the last known address, which is your unit. Send it certified mail and when it comes back put it in the tenant’s file UNOPENED. If anything happens, you have proof of sending it.

Most likely the lease converted to a tenancy at will/month to month agreement under the same terms of the fixed term lease. That’s the best case. Worst case is that you have no written agreement and state law defines the rental agreement. In either case, you don’t get to keep the deposit.

These people are sucking up way too much time and energy from you!

We just had 2 nurses who smoked big-time in a newly renovated unit. We found the tell-tale cans of Febreze in the trash, as if our noses didn’t know. I was real mad and charged them the $500 smoke clean-up as per the contract. Their hiring agency withholds this from their checks,

The nurses sent us an angry e-mail: “The neighborhood was unsafe! We heard gunfire! Your construction people made a lot of noise when we had to sleep! We even fed your cat!”

Of course none of this had anything to do with smoking inside. But I had cooled off by then, and I agreed solely that yes, the construction people HAD made a lot of noise while those night nurses were trying to sleep. So I apologized for the noise and I sent their deposit back.


If it’s certified will they forward it to the new address or will it come back to me?

You can add a non-forwarding endorsement so that it is not forwarded.

Then that will qualify as doing due diligence to try to get their deposit back to them, right? If it goes to small claims court and I bring all that will a judge tell me to just hand it over there then since they are standing there right now?

Also, there’s a pretty solid chance I will be filing for bankruptcy shortly anyway. I assume that they won’t get jack at that point anyway, right?

You have broken one of the main rules of landlording. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If the lease is for a year with no month to month renewal you should have been in there signing them up with your standard lease. If you tell them the rent goes up $100 at the end of a year then do it. If they were responsible for messing up the sprinkler system you should have billed them, then. If your lease says 15 day return of security deposit, do it. Wishy washy landlording creates bully tenants. Remember this… Your tenants are not your customers. They are employees. They work to make you money. Be fair but be firm.