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    Post: Oral rental agreement

    Posted by Linda on 10/20/07

    I had an oral agreement with a roommate stipulating that
    he stay until the end of the lease period. I collected
    last month's rent and a damage deposit, explaining that he
    could move sooner and receive deposits back ONLY if he
    gave 30 days notice AND replaced himself with a suitable
    tenant with no gap between roommates. I agreed to prorate
    back a partial deposit if it took longer than 30 days to
    find a replacement. He agreed to all of these terms. He
    later moved out with no notice, and agreed to the loss of
    the last month's rent, but is suing me in small claims for
    the damage deposit. According to unofficial inet advice on
    Colorado rental laws(sites mostly designed to sell lease
    agreements), the tenant is required to give written notice
    of vacating the premesis a minimum of ten days before
    leaving(that's assuming only a month-to-month agreement,
    whereas we had a lease by oral agreement), and the tenant
    is required to give the landlord (I'm just the lease
    holder, not the landlord) written notice indicating intent
    to file a suit a minimum of seven days before filing,
    neither of which he did. It is also the burden of the
    landlord to prove that retaining a deposit is justified,
    and to notify the tenant of the reasons, which I did not
    do. By law, I have between 30- 60 days after the end of
    our lease period to do so. I am past the 30 days, but
    ahead of the 60 days, and the details of the deadline are
    not clear to me. The statute below indicates that I lose
    all legal grounds for keeping the deposit if I exceed the
    deadline, but is that even applicable if the lease is not
    in writing? I do have records indicating cost of
    advertising for a new roommate and outstanding utility
    bills. I have only the word of my current roommate that
    there was a gap between roommates(and thus cost of
    additional 3 days' rent). I considered the remainder of
    the deposit forfeited since he gave no notice. I'm
    concerned that if I go to court and lose, I will have to
    pay his filing costs and possibly his attorney's fees, and
    have heard that losing will damage my credit even if I pay
    in full immediately.
    My main 2 questions are: what law is applicable in the
    absence of a written agreement; will I be treated as the
    landlord by law, although I am merely subletting a room?
    The following is the most official looking info I was
    able to find online; please see excerpt below:
    Colorado Statutes Article 12
    Tenant and Landlord
    Return to Title 38 index.
    38-12-103. Return of security deposit.

    (1) A landlord shall, within one month after the
    termination of a lease or surrender and acceptance of the
    premises, whichever occurs last, return to the tenant the
    full security deposit deposited with the landlord by the
    tenant, unless the lease agreement specifies a longer
    period of time, but not to exceed sixty days. No security
    deposit shall be retained to cover normal wear and tear.
    In the event that actual cause exists for retaining any
    portion of the security deposit, the landlord shall
    provide the tenant with a written statement listing the
    exact reasons for the retention of any portion of the
    security deposit. When the statement is delivered, it
    shall be accompanied by payment of the difference between
    any sum deposited and the amount retained. The landlord is
    deemed to have complied with this section by mailing said
    statement and any payment required to the last known
    address of the tenant. Nothing in this section shall
    preclude the landlord from retaining the security deposit
    for nonpayment of rent, abandonment of the premises, or
    nonpayment of utility charges, repair work, or cleaning
    contracted for by the tenant.

    (2) The failure of a landlord to provide a written
    statement within the required time specified in subsection
    (1) of this section shall work a forfeiture of all his
    rights to withhold any portion of the security deposit
    under this section.

    (3) (a) The willful retention of a security deposit in
    violation of this section shall render a landlord liable
    for treble the amount of that portion of the security
    deposit wrongfully withheld from the tenant, together with
    reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs; except that
    the tenant has the obligation to give notice to the
    landlord of his intention to file legal proceedings a
    minimum of seven days prior to filing said action.

    (b) In any court action brought by a tenant under this
    section, the landlord shall bear the burden of proving
    that his withholding of the security deposit or any
    portion of it was not wrongful.

    There is more information on the site if needed. Thank you
    for taking time to consider my situation.

    Posts on this thread, including this one
  • Oral rental agreement, 10/20/07, by Linda.
  • Re: Oral rental agreement, 10/21/07, by -.

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