Woman billed $5,255 to end lease after her death

Within a week after Carlos Hernandez’s mother died unexpectedly, more unexpected news came.

LOVELAND, Colo. — Carlos Hernandez remembers the day in October that his mom, Leticia Farrer, got the keys to her unit at Avenida at Centerra, a 55-and-over community in Loveland. 

“My mom has always been close to me,” Hernandez said. “She couldn’t stay away from the grandkids.” 

Farrer had some health conditions, including dementia, that required a lot of appointments. But the 75-year-old grandma worried about being a burden to her family. 

“She went to see it and she loved it,” Hernandez said of Avenida. “She fell in love with it. And we figured because of the activities that it would be a good place for her to be.”

Hernandez never expected that happiness would end so soon. Three months later, in January, the two talked on FaceTime as Farrer was going to bed. That was the last time Hernandez talked to his mother. 

“I called her in the morning, multiple times,” he said. “And there was no answer.” 

“And when I checked on her, she had passed in her sleep.”

Unexpected loss like that is tough enough. Within a week, more unexpected news came.

“We got a phone call about her lease being approved to terminate, but that there would be some additional charges,” Hernandez said. 

The additional charges included $3,255 for an early termination fee, and another $2,000 in rent concessions that she’d gotten when she signed the lease.

“I was like, ‘Well, what do you mean additional charges?'” Hernandez recalled. 

They asked Hernandez if he had read through the lease. 

“I’m like, ‘No, my mom just passed away,'” Hernandez said. “Last thing I’m doing is reading through her lease.” 

“So she explained that there’s some termination fees associated with breaking a lease, even in the event of death,” Hernandez said. 

Sure enough, there it was. Right there on page four, paragraph 23.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Hernandez said. 

Hernandez’s Colorado state representative, Republican Ron Weinberg, called the situation “ludicrous.” But he said it’s perfectly legal. He said Colorado law does terminate a lease upon the renter’s death — unless the lease specifically says otherwise. 

“I think a lot of people have been affected by this,” Weinberg said. “And quite frankly, it’s quite despicable.”

Greystar, the company that owns Avenida, told Steve On Your Side they cleared the balance after hearing about Leticia Farrer’s story. But they would not say if they plan to keep including “death” in the fine print of their leases. 

Weinberg pledged to put forward legislation “that will stop this ludicrous behavior.” 

Hernandez is relieved the bill is gone, but now, he’s determined to make sure no more families have to deal with fine print and surprise bills on top of grief.

“If somebody destroys the place — they scratch the floors, they put holes in the walls, break a window, sure. Charge them. Charge their estate. That’s damage that was done,” he said. “But to break a lease because you passed away, no, that’s not right.” 

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