Florida Landlord-Tenant Law: Security Deposit Requirements

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Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Amanda Rose

If you are a tenant or a landlord in Florida, it is important to understand the state’s landlord-tenant law regarding security deposits. Security deposits are a sum of money paid by the tenant to the landlord to cover any damages to the rental property caused by the tenant.

Florida has specific laws and regulations governing the collection and return of security deposits, which both tenants and landlords must follow.

Key Takeaways

  • Florida has specific laws and regulations governing the collection and return of security deposits.
  • In 2023, a new law will go into effect in Florida regarding security deposits.
  • Landlords are required to place security deposits in a separate account and are not allowed to use the deposit for any purpose other than to cover damage caused by the tenant.

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New Security Deposit Law in Florida 2023

If you are a landlord or a tenant in Florida, it is essential to understand the new security deposit law that came into effect on July 1, 2023. The changes made in Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes have significant implications for both parties.

One of the most notable changes is that landlords are now allowed to charge tenants a fee in lieu of a security deposit. This new amendment to Florida Statutes, Chapter 83.491, provides landlords with the option to offer tenants the choice of paying a fee instead of a security deposit. However, there is no obligation for landlords to offer this option to tenants.

Another significant change is the maximum security deposit limit. The maximum amount that a landlord can charge as a security deposit is now equivalent to two months’ rent. This change is a reduction from the previous limit of three months’ rent.

It is also important to note that the law requires landlords to return the security deposit to the tenant within 15 days after the lease ends. Failure to do so can result in the landlord being held liable for damages and attorney fees.

In summary, the new security deposit law in Florida 2023 has brought significant changes to landlord-tenant relations. Landlords now have the option of charging a fee instead of a security deposit, and the maximum security deposit limit has been reduced to two months’ rent.

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Landlord’s Obligations for Security Deposits

As a landlord in Florida, you have certain obligations when it comes to handling security deposits. These obligations include maintaining a separate bank account for the security deposit, providing notice and receipt of the deposit, and offering options for an interest-bearing account.

Separate Bank Account Requirement

Florida law requires landlords to maintain a separate bank account for security deposits. This account must be used solely for holding security deposits and cannot be commingled with any other funds.

The account must be held at a banking or financial institution that is authorized to do business in Florida.

Notice and Receipt Obligations

When a tenant pays a security deposit, the landlord must provide written notice of the amount of the deposit and the name and address of the banking institution where the deposit will be held.

The notice must also state whether the account is interest-bearing or non-interest-bearing. The landlord must provide this notice within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

Additionally, the landlord must provide a receipt for the deposit. The receipt must include the date of receipt, the amount of the deposit, and a description of the rental unit. The landlord must provide this receipt within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

Interest-Bearing Account Options

Florida law provides two options for holding security deposits in interest-bearing accounts. The first option is to hold the deposit in an interest-bearing account with a Florida banking institution.

The second option is to hold the deposit in a non-interest-bearing account and post a surety bond in the amount of the deposit.

If the landlord chooses to hold the deposit in an interest-bearing account, they must pay the tenant an annual interest rate of at least 75% of the annualized average interest rate payable on the account. The landlord must pay the interest annually or at the end of the tenancy, whichever comes first.

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Return of Security Deposit

As a tenant in Florida, you are entitled to the return of your security deposit at the end of your lease.

Timeline for Returning Deposits

Florida law requires landlords to return security deposits to tenants within 15 days of the lease’s end. If the landlord intends to make deductions from the deposit, they must provide a written notice of the intention to impose a claim on the security deposit within 30 days of the lease’s end.

The notice must be sent by certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address.

Procedures for Return

When returning the deposit, landlords must send it to the tenant’s forwarding address, if provided. If the tenant did not provide a forwarding address, the landlord must send the deposit to the last known address.

The deposit must be returned in full, unless the landlord has a valid reason to make deductions. If deductions are made, the landlord must provide an itemized list of the deductions with the remaining balance.

Legal Recourse for Tenants

If the landlord fails to return the deposit within the required timeline or makes improper deductions, tenants can take legal action. Small claims court is the most common venue for security deposit disputes.

Tenants can sue for the full amount of the deposit plus any penalty allowed by law. Florida law allows for a penalty of up to twice the amount of the deposit for landlords who fail to return the deposit or provide a proper itemized list of deductions within the required timeline.

Remember, as a tenant in Florida, you have rights when it comes to the return of your security deposit. If you believe your landlord has violated these rights, you have legal recourse.

Keeping the Security Deposit

As a landlord in Florida, you are allowed to keep the security deposit under certain conditions. These conditions are specified in the Florida Statutes § 83.49.

Conditions for Retention

You may retain the security deposit if the tenant breaches the lease agreement. This includes unpaid rent, property damage, and lease violations. However, you must provide the tenant with a written notice of your intent to claim the deposit within 30 days of the lease termination.

Additionally, you must itemize the amount claimed and provide the tenant with a copy of the notice.

Allowable Deductions

Florida law allows you to deduct certain expenses from the security deposit. These deductions include unpaid rent, property damage, and lease violations. However, you cannot deduct for normal wear and tear.

For example, broken tiles, holes in the wall, and missing fixtures are not considered normal wear and tear.

To ensure that you are deducting the correct amount, you should create a move-in and move-out checklist. This checklist should document the condition of the property before and after the tenant’s occupancy. Additionally, you should take photographs of any damage to the property.

In conclusion, as a landlord in Florida, you may retain the security deposit under certain conditions and allowable deductions. Make sure to follow the proper procedures and provide the tenant with a written notice of your intent to claim the deposit within 30 days of the lease termination.

Keep in mind that you cannot deduct for normal wear and tear.

Complaints and Legal Actions

If you have a complaint against your landlord regarding your security deposit, you have several options. First, you can try to resolve the issue directly with your landlord. If that does not work, you can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Filing a Complaint

To file a complaint, you need to fill out a form and provide documentation of your complaint. The department will then investigate your complaint and try to resolve the issue. If the department finds that your landlord violated the law, they may take legal action against your landlord.

Pursuing Legal Action

If you are unable to resolve the issue through the department, you may need to pursue legal action. You should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law. They can help you understand your rights and options.

If you decide to pursue legal action, you will need to file a lawsuit against your landlord. You will need to pay court costs and attorney fees. If you win your case, you may be able to collect your security deposit, as well as additional damages.

It is important to note that Florida law requires landlords to follow specific procedures for returning a tenant’s security deposit. If your landlord fails to follow these procedures, you may have a legal claim against them. However, if you do decide to pursue legal action, be prepared for a potentially lengthy and costly process.

Overall, it is important to understand your rights as a tenant and to take action if your landlord violates the law. If you have any questions or concerns, seek legal advice from a qualified attorney.

Wear and Tear vs. Damage

As a landlord or tenant in Florida, it is important to understand the difference between normal wear and tear and damages. Normal wear and tear refers to the natural deterioration of a property that occurs over time as a result of regular use. It is not considered damage and cannot be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit. Examples of normal wear and tear include faded paint, worn carpet, and minor scuffs on walls.

On the other hand, damages are defined as any destruction, defacement, or loss of property beyond normal wear and tear. Landlords are allowed to deduct monetary damages from a tenant’s security deposit to cover the cost of repairs. Examples of damages include broken windows, large holes in walls, and missing fixtures.

It is important for landlords to accurately document any damages and their associated costs to ensure they are not wrongfully deducting from a tenant’s security deposit. Property management companies can assist with this process by conducting regular inspections and providing detailed reports.

As a tenant, it is important to report any damages to your landlord in a timely manner to avoid being held responsible for the cost of repairs. Additionally, it is recommended to take photos of the property upon move-in and move-out to document any pre-existing damages or normal wear and tear.

Overall, understanding the difference between normal wear and tear and damages is crucial for both landlords and tenants in Florida to avoid any disputes regarding security deposit holdings.

Additional Considerations

When it comes to security deposits, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind as a landlord or tenant in Florida. These considerations include painting charges and pet deposits, as well as the federal fair housing act and its impact on service animals.

Painting Charges

As a landlord, you may be tempted to deduct painting charges from a tenant’s security deposit. However, under Florida law, you cannot charge a tenant for normal wear and tear, which includes minor scuffs and marks on the walls.

If the tenant has caused significant damage to the walls, such as large holes or deep scratches, you may be able to deduct the cost of repairs from the security deposit.

Pet Deposits and Service Animals

If you allow pets in your rental property, you may require a pet deposit from your tenants. However, it’s important to note that you cannot charge a tenant with a service animal a pet deposit under the federal fair housing act.

Service animals are not considered pets, and landlords cannot discriminate against tenants with disabilities who require a service animal.

Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.

Sources: FL Statutes Chapter 83 Part II, Florida Renters Rights Guide

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