After reading the article by Kathleen Harward regarding “Three peaceful warriors…” published in this week’s Collegian, it is important to recognize some facts that were omitted by Ms. Harward. With regard to the amount of the lawsuit, it is true that the tenants were originally sued for the balance of the lease ($6,000), but the home was rerented shortly after the tenants moved out. This resulted in the suit amount being lowered to just $2,300. At the end of the ruling, the magistrate awarded over $1,600 of this $2,300. The majority of the amount that was disallowed was some cleaning costs and court servicing/filing fees. It is also worth mentioning that had I not already rented the home, the magistrate was unsure of how he would have ruled on the subsequent month(s) rent. This means he could and may have awarded the subsequent months.
In terms of the 3-unrelated violation, this case was an example of how landlords are suffering severely under this new ordinance. Ms. Harward forgot to mention in her article the additional following facts:
1. The rent on this four-bedroom home was dropped to current market three-bedroom rates resulting in a loss of over $3,600 per year on this home. This was done with intention of obtaining tenants that met the new civil ordinance.
2. The tenants had repeatedly tried to break the lease based on different criteria. They were upset with the bathroom, so we remodeled it ($3,000); they did not like the smell of the carpet in a bedroom, we replaced the carpet ($600); they did not like the color/condition of the walls, we purchased the paint so they could repaint ($150). They were unhappy with how clean the home was when they moved in, so we paid them to clean the home. This was all within a two-month period.
3. When the tenants were found to have a fourth person in the home and had a complaint filed against them, they saw this as another opportunity to get out of lease. Kathleen Harward told them they could leave, not give any notice, and, therefore, opened up the lawsuit to be filed against the tenants. Therefore, she felt obligated to come to court as her legal advice could and did cost these students money.
The real conclusion of this court case is that since these tenants chose to move a fourth person into their home without consulting the landlord, every landlord is going to be faced with the burden of frequent inspections of their rentals. This inspection process will likely start to appear in leases along with the associated fee structure to cover the time needed to do this. This will result in increased costs for everyone. Regardless of whether these homes are one or seven bedrooms, if there are more than three unrelated people living at the home, the landlord is at risk of having a suit similar to this one and, likely, similar consequences. I think it is safe to say, that Ms. Harward did not do anyone in this city any benefit whatsoever. She simply provided bad legal advice to three students who were solely interested in breaking their lease at anyone’s expense but their own.
Anthony E. Smith
Fort Collins resident and landlord