Family fights for security deposit back after relative dies before move-in day

DENVER – A Denver man died unexpectedly two weeks before he was set to move into a new apartment. Now, his family says the complex won’t give them back his deposit.

“He had a huge heart,” Julie Trujillo said of her father Felix.

She said she will miss his sense of humor most because he was always able to see the good in bad situations. That is a trait she is now hoping to carry on in his memory.

“It makes it more tough. It makes me feel like I can’t move on, like I’m still trying to take care of him,” Julie said.

In March, her father had saved up enough money to move out on his own into apartments on South Sheridan Boulevard near West Mississippi Avenue in southwest Denver. His sister cosigned the application for him as his guarantor.

They paid the deposit the first week of March and signed the lease March 12.

“According to the lease, he was supposed to move in on April 1 and, of course, he didn’t make it to that,” Julie said.

Felix died unexpectedly of complications from ongoing health issues March 16.

“From what I understood, we were going to receive the deposit back,” Julie said.

Instead, they received a letter from Business Futures, Inc. charging them the full deposit of $820 for breaking the lease.

“The lease hadn’t even started, so I don’t understand how he had broken the lease that hadn’t even, he didn’t even get the chance to move into the place,” Julie said.

Business Futures, Inc sent KDVR the following response:

“Felix Trujillo applied for one of our properties in Denver in February of this year. After completing his application process we approved him with the move in date of April 1.  He paid his deposit to take the property off the market on March 7.   We were informed on March 18 that he passed away.  We said we had to put the property back on the market for rent to avoid any financial damages both to the owners of the property and to Maria Trujillo since she was a guarantor for the contract.  We encouraged our leasing agent to work hard so Maria would not have to pay any rent.  The marketing, showing of the property and paying the leasing agent costs money which is why on the application form both Felix and Maria Trujillo signed states 'Hold deposit shall be retained by Business Futures, Inc. as liquidated damages for holding the home off the market and showing to prospective applicants.' The lease Felix signed has a similar provision.

Maria Trujillo claims she could find someone to rent the place to avoid paying us the fee doing that, but I personally discussed that with her when she came to my office and I told her that we will put the property back in the market for rent and hopefully will get it rented. If she had said she had someone else who might rent it, we would have worked with her immediately instead of paying the leasing agent to find someone.

We and the leasing agent worked hard to avoid Maria owing any rent for the month and were successful.  She also claims they paid us $98 which they were not aware of that fee which is not correct. First, our administration fee is $95, and, second, it is disclosed on the top of our application form they both signed and we discuss all the fees with our prospects before we accept or process their rental application.

We are sorry for Maria Trujillo’s loss. We successfully did everything we could to avoid Maria, as guarantor owing any money on Felix’s contract.”

The family says they will continue to fight this battle for Felix and for other families who may be going through something similar.

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