Colorado landlord-tenant law on security deposit

Colorado Landlord Tenant Law On Security Deposit

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Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Kelvin Nielsen

Colorado landlord-tenant law (Colorado Statutes Title 38 Article 12) requires landlords to abide by certain rules when it comes to security deposits.

Including, what deductions a landlord can make, when to return a tenant’s security deposit, and what to do in case the property’s ownership changes hands.

The following is a basic overview of the Colorado landlord-tenant law on security deposits.

How Much Is a Security Deposit in Colorado?

Unfortunately for tenants, landlords in Colorado are not limited on how much security deposit they can charge. Your landlord can ask as much as they want.

Generally speaking, though, most landlords charge a deposit not exceeding 2 months’ rent. So, if the monthly rent is $1,000, then most landlords will not ask for a deposit exceeding $2,000.

Do Landlords Have to Pay Interest on Security Deposits in Colorado?

Some states have rules on how landlords must store their tenants’ security deposits. In Florida, for instance, landlords have three options in this regard. They can either store the deposit in a normal account, an interest-bearing account, or post the deposit as a surety bond.

This is, however, not the case for landlords in Colorado. Colorado laws don’t require landlords to abide by certain rules when it comes to storing a tenant’s security deposit. A landlord can store it in the financial institution of their choice, and even commingle it with their personal funds.

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What is the No Pet Deposit Law in Colorado?

Also known as the House Bill 23-1068, the No Deposit Law in Colorado caps the amount of money a landlord can charge you for having a pet. The law goes into effect on January 1st, 2024.

Under this new rule, landlords are required to charge no more than $300 in pet deposit fees. This is refundable at the end of the tenancy.

If charging a pet rent, then it must only be 1.5 percent of the monthly rent amount, or $35, whichever is higher. This new law is meant to make it easier for pet owners to find housing.

Can A Landlord Charge A Pet Deposit For An Emotional Support Animal In Colorado?

No, this is something that a landlord cannot do in Colorado. Tenants with an emotional support animal are protected by both the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Federal Fair Housing Laws (FHA).

The following are a couple of things that a landlord cannot do in regard to a tenant with an emotional support animal in Colorado.

  • Refuse to rent their rental unit to a tenant with an emotional support animal. Even with a “no pets” policy, a landlord must make reasonable accommodations to allow such tenants.
  • Charge tenants with emotional support animals extra fees. This would be against the Federal Fair Housing laws, which prohibit landlords from discriminating against disabled tenants.

If your landlord violates any of your rights under the FHA or ADA, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

What is Normal Wear and Tear in Colorado?

Under Colorado law, normal wear and tear is the type of rental damage that occurs due to normal, everyday use of the property. It is expected and reasonable, and a landlord must not charge you for it.

Examples of normal wear and tear in a rental property include stained countertops, worn carpet, small holes in the walls, faded paint, and loose door hinges.

Damage, on the other hand, occurs due to a tenant’s negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the property. As a tenant, you’re responsible for this kind of damage.

Examples of damage exceeding normal wear and tear in Colorado include burned countertops, broken windows, holes in the walls, and missing hinges.

Can a Landlord Charge you for Cleaning after you Have Moved Out in Colorado?

Yes, a landlord can charge you for cleaning after you have moved out of your rental premises in Colorado. However, a landlord can only do so if you leave the property in a dire state of uncleanliness, which would require the landlord to hire professional cleaning services to restore it to its original state.

That said, your landlord cannot charge you for normal cleaning. For instance, if the property only requires dusting, mopping, and vacuuming.

With that in mind, to avoid any charges after moving out, make sure to always do the following.

  • Clean the property before moving out. Vacuum, dust, mop, and clean all rooms to restore them to their original move-in condition.
  • Document the property’s condition before moving out.
  • Repair any damage you’ve made to the unit before moving out.
  • In case of any disagreements with the landlord about cleaning charges, dispute them in writing immediately.

Can a Landlord Charge for Painting in Colorado?

Yes, a landlord can charge for painting in Colorado if the damage to the paint goes beyond normal wear and tear. Examples of normal wear and tear on paint include fading, minor scrapes, and minor cracks. In such cases, a landlord must not make any charges on your security deposit.

However, your landlord may be able to charge for excessive damage on paint such as water damage, large or deep scratches, and stains.

Here are some of the things you can do to avoid any charges on your security deposit in regard to paint damage.

  • Keep the walls clean and free of any damage.
  • Repair any damage you make to the walls immediately.
  • Seek the landlord’s permission before repainting the walls.
  • Restore the walls to their original condition before moving out.

What Happens If The Landlord Does Not Return The Security Deposit In 30 Days In Colorado?

Under Colorado law, a landlord must return a tenant’s security deposit within 30 days after they move out. Your landlord may also have a longer time to return it if the lease specifies it. However, this must not exceed 60 days.

In case you have to move out due to a hazardous condition at the premises, the landlord will need to fix the issue within 72 hours of your written notice. If they don’t, you may be able to break your lease without penalty and have your security deposit returned within 72 hours.

If the landlord fails to return your security deposit within the required timeframe, the following are some of the things you can do.

  • Send the landlord a demand letter.
  • File a lawsuit in a small claims court.
  • Get legal help.

What is a Demand for Return of Security Deposit in Colorado?

A Demand for Return of Security Deposit is just that – a written letter that a tenant writes to a landlord demanding the return of the security deposit.  

As already mentioned, Colorado landlords must return their tenants’ deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out. The only exception would be if the lease allows for a longer period, but which must not exceed 60 days.

If the landlord doesn’t do so, or they wrongfully withhold your deposit, you can send them a Demand for Return of Security Deposit.

In the written letter, you must specify the following information.

  • Your name and contact information.
  • Your landlord’s name and contact information.
  • The rental property’s address.
  • The date you moved out of the rental property.
  • The amount of security deposit you paid when you first moved in.
  • A written letter demanding the return of your security deposit.
  • A statement that you may take legal action against the landlord if they don’t comply with the demand.

If the landlord doesn’t comply with the Demand for Return of Security Deposit, you can consider filing a lawsuit. If successful, you may be awarded up to 3X the wrongfully withheld amount, plus court and attorney costs.

What Can Landlord Deduct From Security Deposit Colorado?

Under Colorado law, a landlord may be able to make certain deductions from a tenant’s security deposit. Once the tenant has moved out, you may be able to make deductions for things like:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage exceeding normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid utility bills
  • Unpaid repair bills
  • Unpaid cleaning bills
  • Abandonment of the premises

What Happens To The Security Deposit If the Landlord Sells The Rental Property?

In case the property’s ownership changes hands, the landlord will have two options to consider.

One option would be for the landlord to transfer the deposit to the incoming landlord, less any allowable deductions. The landlord will then have to notify you in writing of the same.

The other option would be to return the deposit, less any allowable deductions, back to you. The new owner would then become liable for abiding by the Colorado landlord-tenant law on security deposit.


As a renter, knowing your rights is critical. Under the Colorado landlord-tenant law on security deposit, you’re protected from certain illegal landlord actions, such as wrongful security deposit deductions and withholding.

Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.

Sources: Colorado Revised Statutes §§ 38-12-101 to 38-12-104, Colorado Residential Landlord & Tenant Law

1 thought on “Colorado Landlord Tenant Law On Security Deposit”

  1. Lease/deposit question. I rented my home to a traveling Nurse while I am working on a traveling Nurse assignment myself.

    My question: even though the lease I used states “deposit to be returned within 10 days”, can I supersede the 10 days with Colorado’s 30 day rule?

    I used EZ Landlords to create the lease. I had to create the lease quickly as the Nurse needed to move in a couple of days later.

    In my haste, I did not realize the section for the security deposit had a pre-populated amount of 10 days to return the security deposit.

    The Nurse has been somewhat difficult and is demanding to have the deposit returned within 10 days.

    I won’t be home from my travel assignment until 20 days after the Nurse leaves. I don’t feel comfortable paying someone I don’t know from a property management company to do a walk-through.

    Thank you!

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