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Wendy Lucas, Real Estate Pro in Aspen, CO

Tenant alters unit without permission, breaks lease, and asks for rental reference and security deposit return. What do I do?

Asked by Wendy Lucas, Aspen, CO Thu Dec 23, 2010

Our Tenant broke the lease and moved out early. After taking possession of the Property we discovered they had torn out drywall to wire the attic with a lighting system (plant lights - get it?). They are asking for their security deposit back and I have gotten calls for rental references. Should I take them to small claims court for damages (which exceed $7,500) and how do I respond to the request for rental reference?

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Wendy: Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

First, I would attempt to communicate with the tenant about the problems they created. Next, I would also provide them (as reiteration) a copy of their lease, which hopefully is clear about early termination, and security deposit issues, with a list of the flagrant problems they created, explaining why return of their security deposit simply will not occur. I know you are also an attorney, but I would avoid litigation at all costs, because ultimately there will be no winners. Depending upon the tenant, in today's market, so many people are walking away from leases, you need to decide if pursuing them for the default is worth the time, effort and energy.

Re: the reference...I would confirm their tenancy and then state: "I can't provide any further details about their occupancy, other than it ended unproductively for all parties." 'Nuff said!

1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 23, 2010
Give an honest review. State exactly what happned and let the new landlord make a decision based on your review. I would tell it like it is and not sugar coat it. Keep the deposit and sue them for the damages.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 23, 2010
I am not sure what the law dictates as regards the reference. If it was an employment reference all you could say is "Yes, This person was employed by me on x dates"
Do not return the security deposit. Small Claims court is probably the way to go to get dmamges paid, if you think there is any chance of collecting, I have been successful in making small claims, just need plenty of documentation. But, if the tenant doesn't have any money, collecting it may be a trick. You may just end up with an uncollectable judgment.
Aaaahhh, the joys of being a landlord.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 23, 2010
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