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Can a landlord change the locks on a property that was abandoned by the tenant and the tenant still is enforced to pay rent?

Denver, CO |

I left my living situation and moved all my things out. My roommate is still living there and has all his things in the house. I guess the landlord thought I might try and come in and steal stuff so they changed the locks. Now, I am refusing to pay my rent because, isn't this a form of eviction or something, if I can't get into a place I'm paying for? I just want to know that if my landlord takes us both to court that all the rent will fall on my roommate and not on me. I am no longer living there and moved out, and even though I signed the lease, I can't get in. Does my landlord have the right or obligation to change locks without notification for "safety reasons" for remaining tenants? Also, can I still bring up being locked out if my roommate takes me to small claims court?

Attorney Answers 2


You can bring it up, but it may not be a complete defense to your breach of the lease.

You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.

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Whether the landlord can retake the property and still hold you liable for continuing rent depends upon your lease. Case law provides that if the the the landlord terminates a residential lease, then he has no right to continue to claim unpaid rents unless the lease allows him to do so. Even there, the landlord still has to mitigate his damages. If you r ex-roommate is still living there and paying the rent, then to claim future rents from you seems to be a double recovery. Good luck.

This general response is not intended to be legal advice because I don't have all the facts. The particular facts in each instance will change the recommendation significantly. Any statements made in your posting on Avvo are not protected by the attorney-client privilege because they are shared with third parties. I require a written contract for legal services, so an attorney-client relationship may not be presumed merely by my response to an Avvo posting.

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