The basics of security deposits under Florida’s Landlord-Tenant Act (for residential property):
(1) The landlord has to hold the tenant’s security deposit “in trust” for the tenant, and cannot spend the security deposit money and cannot mix the security deposit money with the landlord’s own money (unless the landlord buys a special kind of insurance called a bond). Landlords just about never get a bond for security deposits, so essentially the law prohibits the landlord from mixing your security deposit money with the money of the landlord.
(2) The landlord must notify the tenant in writing of where the security deposit money is being held (i.e. what bank).
(3) The landlord has special duties to notify the tenant of when and how the landlord seeks to make a “claim” against the security deposit after the tenant leaves the rental property. Those duties can vary based on how much notice the tenant has provided that the tenant is leaving, whether the tenant leaves on time, whether the tenant was in a lease or was month-to-month, and whether and how the tenant notifies the landlord of the tenant’s forwarding address.
TO MAKE IT MOST LIKELY THAT A SECURITY DEPOSIT IS RETURNED OR CANNOT BE KEPT BY THE LANDLORD, A TENANT SHOULD TAKE SOME IMPORTANT STEPS AFTER LEAVING THE PROPERTY:
– Wait 30-45 days after you have left on time and see what mail comes from the Landlord, if any (the mail the landlord sends you and when and how it is sent is very important, so I don’t recommend that you contact the landlord prior to days, because this tends to increase frustrations between the landlord and tenant, often creates an unhelpful “paper trail” of correspondence, and is not productive because the landlord is not required to do anything as far as notice for at least 30 days after you leave);
– You should receive a notice of the landlord’s claim on your security deposit within 30 to 35 days after your lease ends if you vacate the rental property on time;
– Carefully review the notice you are sent by the landlord for accuracy. If you dispute any charges the landlord is making, follow the instructions in the notice you are send and object to the landlord’s claims within 15 days of receiving the notice;
– Decide whether to pursue a claim against your landlord for the security deposit’s return, or give up (“waive”) the deposit in order to make other debts go away that the landlord may say that you owe (beyond the value of the security deposit).
This video and the information provided in it is a free informational service courtesy of http://www.floridatenant.com (a service of Churchill & Wells, LLC).
Links to the forms discussed in our videos:
Florida Lease Termination Package – https://www.floridatenant.com/links
Florida Rent Withholding Package – https://www.floridatenant.com/links
Florida Security Deposit Dispute Package – https://www.floridatenant.com/links
Florida Eviction Defense Package – https://www.floridatenant.com/links
Settlement Agreement Between Landlord and Tenant Package – https://www.floridatenant.com/links
WARNING: Don’t rely solely on legal forms or instructional videos for legal advice, ESPECIALLY if you don’t fully understand how the law works on your issue. Florida Landlord-Tenant laws can get very complicated and every case is factually different, and you should always seek legal advice directly for your situation. You can schedule a consultation with our attorney at http://www.FloridaTenant.com, or seek the advice of a local landlord-tenant attorney in your county. None of these instructions, forms, or videos available through FloridaTenant.com should be understood as legal advice for your particular situation, and these materials should be augmented by legal advice of an attorney.
Link to the Florida Landlord-Tenant Act: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0083/0083.html
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