.Is estimate/agent letter sufficient to establish damages in court, or must I actually have receipts for completion of repairs?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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.Is estimate/agent letter sufficient to establish damages in court, or must I actually have receipts for completion of repairs?

I had a tenant with a month-to-month lease. In December 2015, I told tenant I was going sell her rented house and tenant needed to vacate by March 2016. In February 2016, tenant, through an attorney, contacted me and asked that the security deposit be used for the last month’s rent. I refused, as I had not performed the final inspection. Upon final inspection, it was clear she had removed fixtures and caused damage that was deliberate not normal wear and tear AND far exceeded the security deposit. I am in the process of obtaining estimates for repairs and replacements, and will send a timely accounting. I wish to sell the property ‘as is’. Real estate agent priced the house prior to the damage at 309,999 and will testify that the damage has lowered the asking price to 264,999 due to damage. Given tenant’s decision to lawyer up before the inspection, I suspect she will ask for return of entire damage deposit and we will end up in court. All I want is to recover the actual value of the damages caused by tenant not the difference in asking price for the house. Do I need to complete the repairs to prove my damages, or is the estimate/testimony sufficient?

Asked on April 5, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, for actual damages, you need the actual costs, not just estimates or proposals--unless those are *firm* estimates, or the minimum cost you will be charged. As long as the cost cannot go lower than the estimate or proposal, you could use it in court. It's when the cost could be lower that you'd need the final, actual price.

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