- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DENVER | A Colorado woman is going to court Wednesday after she was evicted for refusing to remove an array of Easter bunnies, chicks and other holiday decorations from her apartment door.

Carol Burdick, 59, is contending that she wasn’t in violation of her lease when she festooned her door at her apartment building in Boulder County with Peeps marshmallow chicks, Easter basket grass and holiday stickers.

“They can’t evict someone for doing something that’s not prohibited by the lease,” said Boulder attorney John Pineau, who will be representing Mrs. Burdick at the hearing Wednesday in Boulder County Court. “They can’t evict her for putting up Peeps, chicks and Easter bunnies.”

Cindy Duffy, a spokeswoman for AIMCO, the management company that holds the lease, said the problem wasn’t so much the grass and stickers - it was the Peeps.

Mrs. Burdick had nailed a pyramid-shaped collection of Peeps marshmallow chicks above her door, creating a cleanliness issue, Ms. Duffy said.

“Our concern was not about Easter so much as it was about the food nailed to the hallway, which created a concern over sanitary conditions,” Ms. Duffy said.

Mrs. Burdick had left up her Easter display after the April 12 holiday. Nine days later, the landlord at the Meadow Creek Apartments told her that she had three days to remove the decorations or move out.

A notice tacked next to her door stated that Mrs. Burdick was in violation of a provision in her lease that requires residents to “keep the apartment home, including all balconies, patios and other areas … in a clean and sanitary condition.”

The lease also specifies that no garbage may be left outside the apartment, though Mr. Pineau said the Easter decorations hardly qualify as garbage.

“The biggest eyesores were the legal notices stuck on her door,” he said.

Mrs. Burdick went so far as to take a survey of her neighbors asking whether they thought the display should be removed. The neighbors were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the decorations, Mr. Pineau said.

Nonetheless, the apartment managers tore down the display, prompting Mrs. Burdick to withhold her May rent. She received another letter May 6 saying that she would be evicted unless she paid her rent in three days.

“This case is about nonpayment of rent,” Ms. Duffy said.

Mr. Pineau said that his client refused payment because the apartment managers effectively breached the contract when they began the eviction process with the first notice.

In the meantime, Mrs. Burdick has moved in with friends. She’s been grappling with some recent health problems - she has lupus and recently had her gall bladder removed - and now she could be liable for as much as $2,300 in past rent and fees.

Even so, she’s not interested in settling, her lawyer said.

“She’s a little concerned about her health, but she’s committed to going forward,” said Mr. Pineau. “She wants to make it clear that she did nothing wrong by putting up Easter decorations.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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