Can I keep security deposit if my tenant breaks lease?

3 Replies

Hi all,

In Colorado, can I keep security deposit if my tenant breaks lease? My lease states that there is a lease termination fee and tenant also has to pay rent till new tenant moves in. But my current tenant will not pay the termination fee and will not pay rent (simply because tenant does not have money), so wanted to know if I can keep security deposit to cover these.

Thank you!

@Mike Girenko without seeing the lease and understanding I am not a licensed property manager - just a guy with a few self managed rentals. You can keep the deposit for unpaid rent, just like repairs, etc. You will need to document why you are keeping it in a letter that needs to be delivered to them within 30 days, unless the lease states otherwise, but not more than 60 per state law. I would either send certified mail or heavily document for the proof you sent it.

Just as a side - I wouldn't use a lease that says they are responsible until someone else moves in, just a lease break fee of 1 or 2 months and move on from them. 

@Mike Girenko  

@Travis Sperr is correct and - if for some reason the amount of the security deposit doesn't cover it then you can file a small claims action and garnish wages for the remainder. It isn't hard to do in our state and doesn't cost much. I think the last time I did it cost about $100 - but the garnishment is only good 6 months at a time. 

This seems stupid to ask, but in CA (San Diego), what are the steps to filing a small claims action? Are there good Templates recommended that help draft a demand letter (1st step, as I understand). Tenant is leaving 4 months early, leaving the place a pigsty. Am lining up estimates as fast as I can, but while this guy often would not let us show the place, he seems to either think he's 1) coming out ahead ( ie, will not give forwarding info), or 2) is shifty enough to think he will manage to get 3 months Security Deposit (we were dumb enough to do one month, at $2950 + $500 for pet damages, of which there was $300, plus a very big mess (at least $400 to clean), and undetermined damages all over. And he incredibly requested "extra cleaning" before he moved in! Thanks.