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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 

In  early March 2012, I became an inadvertent new landlord when I bought a condo in a Colorado college town that as of September 2012 is used by immediate family members.  The then existing three tenants had a one year lease with the former owner that ran from Aug 2011 to Aug 2012.  In late April, one tenant gave me notice of early lease termination, some information about SCRA and some military enlistment papers dated February 2012 with a July report date.   He said was going to move out and back home on May 31, 2012, because he was leaving for basic training within 60 days.

I told him that I wouldn’t accept his early termination and he owed me rent through August 2012. In May, the tenant had an attorney send me a follow-up  letter reiterating early lease termination through SCRA. 

Then, the tenant sent me a seven-day demand letter in July for his security deposit saying it was more than 30 days since he had moved out.  Of course I didn’t send him the money, the lease wasn’t over and now he owed me rent. A couple of weeks after receiving his demand letter, I sent him a stern reply telling him I was keeping his security deposit and that I was going to sue him for the rest of his unpaid rent.  Even though I didn't hear back  I know he received the letter  since I mailed it to his attorney’s address as requested.

Now it’s almost one year later.   I’ve received a demand letter again citing SCRA.    A friend said to be careful because military legal assistance as well as the Department of Justice could get involved.  Between SCRA and Colorado law, she said he was allowed to move out on June 1, 2012 and that I might have to I pay this ex-tenant 3 times his security deposit.  Also  because I didn’t register the condo as a licensed rental unit between the time I bought it in March and late June 2012, she thought I might have to refund  rent to all tenants for that period because the rental contract was  null and void.   I think she’s making this all up.  According a lawyer friend, the former tenant wasn’t even in the military when he left.

Can you believe this?   None of this makes sense.   He owes me money not vice versa.   How can I get him to pay up? He's active duty and stationed in another state.


Posts: 125
Reply with quote  #2 

I'm going to start off by saying that honestly if it was me, I'd just let it go.  Take my advice as a landlord with experience that some battles are literally not worth fighting.  

With that being said, here's the reality of the situation that you're in: you will have to file a lawsuit and prove you case to a court if the ex-tenant contests your actions against them (which you've already stated that they are).  In order to do this, you will have to pay court costs and any legal fees out of your own pocket for a judge to hear your case.  You will be able to recoup these expenses should you prevail.

If you decide to go that route, then you will have to among a long list of other things, be able to prove/show the court that you've been actively trying and yet have been unsuccessful in getting your condo/rental unit re-rented within the time period that your tenant vacated the premises to the end of the lease period.  There are two primary reasons for this, the first being that the law does not allow you to collect 'double rent' (i.e. if you were able to immediately obtain another tenant and collect rent during that period), and two, no judge will side with your case if you made very little or worse yet no attempt to try and obtain a new tenant.  Also, you will have to check with your states landlord tenant laws to see if there was a time period where you were required to refund their deposit by or provide them with an itemized list of deductions within 'x' amount of days of them leaving.  If your state (CO) has such a legal provision and you failed to comply with it, then that really puts you in an unfavorable position in your case against them.  I recommend you consult the advice of an evictions attorney that has expertise in your local/states laws.  This may also cost you some money. 

Finally, SCRA has may special protections for tenants who are or become actively involved with the military during their tenancy.  For those reasons alone, I also recommend you educate yourself as to specifically what their rights are before deciding to pursue any action against this former tenant.   This link may help shed some light:

Good Luck


Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #3 
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