In Colorado the landlord is required to send a written statement of damages, along with any security deposit refund, to the renter’s last known address. It is important that you furnish the landlord with a forwarding address. Also file a change of address form with the local post office in case the landlord mails you a notice the address you just left.
Give the landlord proper written notice of intent to move out within the time specified in the lease. If no time is specified in the lease, notice must be given within the time specified by law. In a month-to-month lease, unless otherwise specified, written notice must be given to the landlord 10 days before the end of the month.
Inspect the premises on the day you move out along with a neutral party to witness the condition the house or apartment was left in. Photos can be taken of the apartment condition when the renter moves out. You should of already done this when you moved in. We suggest you try to bring along a property manager or the landlord. If you had a move in checklist, bring that with you.
When you leave an apartment, the landlord has one month (unless a longer period of time, not to exceed 60 days, is stipulated in the lease) to send to your last known address the full amount of the security deposit or a written list of the damages and the amount of money needed for repairs. If the deposit is larger than the amount required for repairs, the landlord must return the excess.
If the landlord does not comply with the law and fails to refund the deposit within one month (or up to 60 days if stipulated in the lease), or withholds any portion for normal wear and tear, or if you consider the reasons for withholding invalid and wish to pursue the matter, you can take legal steps.
You may seek the assistance of an attorney, file a complaint in county court under Simplified Civil Action, or file a complaint in the small claims division of county court. If you consult an attorney, bring copies of the lease, deposit checks, correspondence, etc. Discuss fees with the attorney at this first appointment. If you pursue the matter without an attorney, check the rental agreement with the landlord or realtor to see what liabilities might incur should you lose the suit. The renter must decide if it is worth about $20 to retrieve a deposit often in excess of $100.
To start the action, send the landlord a certified letter (with a return receipt requested) and demand the deposit be refunded within seven days under threat of legal action. Also send a copy by regular first class mail. The letter should cite violation 38-12-103 of Colorado Revised Statutes and mention that the statutory time requirement for returning the deposit has elapsed following the termination of the lease agreement.
If the landlord does not respond within seven days after the letter is sent, you can pursue court action. If the amount is $5,000 or less, go to the small claims court in the county courthouse in the county where the defendant lives or works.
If the amount (including treble damages) is more than $5,000 but less than $10,000, go to the county court in the county where the problem arose to begin legal proceedings. If the name of the landlord is not known, the county assessor’s office can help find the owner of the rental property.
Before filing, the renter must have grounds to file. Grounds include (a) expiration of the one-month period and either non-refund without explanation or fictitious claims for damage and withholding charges, and (b) seven days since sending the warning letter.