Colorado Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Colorado Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Last Updated: January 23, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions
  • Unpaid rent and utilities
  • Costs of damage
  • Damages due to abandonment
  • Unpaid cleaning services
  • Any other reasonable deductions
Return Deadline 1 Month to 60 days or 72 hours
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 3x Amount due + court costs + attorneys’ fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Colorado, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Colorado

In Colorado, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent and utilities
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Monetary damage as a result of abandonment
  • Unpaid cleaning services
  • Any other reasonable deductions

In Colorado, landlords can make any deductions from the security deposit that are reasonable in amount and nature. This may include a lost key charge or unpaid late fee. The deductions do not need to be listed in the lease agreement, but landlords cannot charge for normal wear and tear under any circumstance.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Colorado?

Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.

“Normal wear and tear” is defined by Colorado law as “deterioration that occurs, based upon the use for which a rental unit…is intended.”

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

“Damage” is described by Colorado law as destruction that occurs due to “negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or homeowner or members of the tenant’s or home owner’s household, or their invitees or guests.”

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Colorado?

Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Colorado?

Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Colorado?

Landlords in Colorado can charge a cleaning fee except the landlord cannot charge for cleaning done as a result of normal wear and tear. Landlords can also make deductions from the security deposit for cleaning services contracted by the tenant.

For example, landlords can offer a service to deep clean the kitchen upon request by the tenant and deduct the charge from the security deposit if it is unpaid when the lease term ends.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Colorado?

Yes, in Colorado, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Colorado?

Colorado law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in Colorado

Landlords must return a security deposit within one month from the date the tenant vacates the rental unit or the lease term ends, whichever is later (or up to 60 days in some situations). If deductions are to be made from the security deposit, an itemized statement of deductions must be provided.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Colorado?

Colorado landlords have one month  after the tenant vacates the rental unit or the lease term ends, whichever is later, to return any remaining portion of the security deposit. The lease agreement can specify a longer period to return the security deposit, up to 60 days.


If a tenant vacates their rental unit due to the landlord’s failure to repair a hazardous condition, the landlord must return any remaining portion of the security deposit within 72 hours after the tenant vacates the rental unit. If the 72nd hour falls on a weekend or holiday, the landlord has until noon the next day to return the security deposit.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Colorado?

Colorado law does not require landlords to provide interest on held security deposits, but local governments may enact their own rules regarding security deposit interest, like in Boulder.

In Boulder, tenants are entitled to interest on their security deposits, except for mobile homes. The minimum interest rate is based on the average of one-year certificates of deposit.

How Do Landlords Give Notice / What Information Do They Have to Provide in Colorado?

If deductions are to be made from the security deposit, an itemized statement of deductions must be sent by mail to the tenant’s last known address.

Security Deposit Disputes in Colorado

If landlords do not return the security deposit or provide an itemized statement of deductions, if any, within the required time period, tenants can file for damages in court up to three times the amount of the deposit due to the tenant plus court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

However, the tenant must notify the landlord in writing at least 7 days before filing to give the landlord an opportunity to return the portion of the security deposit wrongfully withheld.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for unreasonable deductions.

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Colorado?

If a landlord fails to perform their obligations regarding a security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in the small claims division of County Court if the amount of damages is less than $7,500.  If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in the County Court.

A small claims case regarding the return of a security deposit must be filed within 1 or 6 years depending on whether the claim includes triple damages.

Cases are filed in County Court where the property is located or where the defendant lives, works or has an office. An attorney is not required but permitted upon approval by the court. Filing fees are $31 or $55, depending on the amount sought in damages.

Our website provides more information about the process of filing a dispute in Small Claims Court.