Colo. woman claims she was evicted over Easter décor

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BOULDER, Colo. — A woman who says she was wrongly evicted from her apartment because she kept her Easter decorations for two weeks after the holiday is taking her case to court.

“An Easter decoration is a religious statement and should be protected — even if it is just bunnies,” said John Pineau, the attorney who is representing Boulder resident Carol Burdick.

Jury selection for Burdick's case is expected to begin tomorrow in Boulder County Court, in a trial to determine whether she violated her lease with her decorations.

Burdick is not asking for monetary damages but wants jurors to find that she's not liable for more than $2,000 in rent and late fees, which she refused to pay after the dispute.

The 59-year-old Burdick is claiming her landlords unjustly asked her to remove the Easter stickers, plastic grass, and Peeps marshmallow candies from her door a few days after the April 12 holiday this year.

Pineau told the Daily Camera in Boulder that when Burdick refused to remove her display, apartment managers posted a notice on her door saying she was violating the requirements of her lease, which calls for keeping balconies, patios and other areas “in a clean sanitary condition.”

Pineau said the notice was the equivalent of calling Burdick's display “garbage.”

Pineau said Burdick stopped paying rent because her landlords removed her Easter display on the outside of her door when she refused to do so herself. Burdick was told in early May she would be evicted if she didn't pay her rent, Pineau said.

Burdick's lease was with the Meadow Creek Apartments and with the AIMCO corporation, a national company based in Denver that owns and operates apartment communities.

“It’s not about Easter,” AIMCO spokeswoman Cindy Duffy told the Daily Camera for a story yesterday. “It’s about non-payment of rent.”

Duffy told the newspaper that Burdick owed AIMCO about $2,300.

Burdick said her decorations didn't bother her neighbors. She asked some of them to fill out comment cards and Pineau said she received overwhelming support, with some writing, “Do not stop.”

Burdick has been living with friends since she was evicted in May.