Even though landlords are not limited when it comes to the amount of security deposit they charge, most landlords understand that unrealistic security deposit amounts will discourage prospective tenants from trying to sign a rental agreement.
Typically, most landlords in Florida tend to charge one to two months’ rent to protect themselves against potential damage, eviction, and vacancy costs.
In this article, we provide you a guide on tenant security deposit law in Florida.
How to Store Security Deposit During Tenancy in Florida
In Florida, landlords commonly utilize three different ways to store a security deposit during the tenancy:
- non-interest bearing account,
- interest bearing account, or
- surety bond.
Firstly, landlords in Florida can store the tenant’s security deposit in a non-interest bearing bank account in the state. The funds deposited into the account cannot intermingle with any other funds before they are due to the landlord.
On the other hand, landlords can place the tenant’s security deposit in an interest-bearing bank account in the state. In such cases, the landlord must pay the tenant any interest earned yearly and at the end of the lease term.
Thus, the interest earned can be paid directly to the tenant or credited back in the form of rent. In case the tenant breaks the lease, the landlord will not get any interest. The funds within the account cannot intermingle with any other funds before it is due to the landlord.
Besides, landlords in Florida can utilize a surety bond to store the amount of the security deposit. In such cases, the surety bond must be posted in the county where the rental unit is located. Plus, the landlord must pay the tenant a 5% amount of interest yearly on the bond.
Florida Landlords Need to Provide Written Notice After Receipt of Deposit
In Florida, landlords must provide tenants a written notice after receipt of the deposit, typically no more than 30 days after receiving the amount.
Additionally, in case a landlord changes the location or the terms at which the security deposit is being held, the tenant must be notified in writing again within 30 days.
Tenant’s Security Deposit in Florida – Possible Deductions
In some cases, Florida landlords are legally allowed to make deductions from a tenant’s security deposit as a way to prevent certain expenses, which includes:
- coverage for unpaid rent,
- payment for damage to the rental until (over normal wear and tear), and
- potential violations of a lease agreement.
How Can Landlords Return a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Florida?
To return a tenant’s security deposit, a Florida landlord must consider if the security deposit is being returned in full or if deductions were made from the original amount.
In the first case, the landlord will return the security deposit within 15 days of lease termination. Any interest earned by the tenant on the security deposit must be returned as well.
On the other hand, if deductions have been made from the deposit, the landlord has 30 days (counting from the lease termination) to notify the tenant in writing of his/her intention to keep a percentage of the tenant’s security deposit.
A written notice must be sent by certified mail to the address on file for the tenant. In case the tenant does not provide the landlord a forwarding address, the landlord is not required to provide written notice of the security deposit.
In case the landlord fails to notify the tenant in writing within 30 days, he/she will not have the right to keep any percentage of the security deposit.
Tenants in Florida Have the Right to Contest Claim on the Security Deposit
In cases where the landlord has made any deductions from the tenant’s security deposit, he/she must also inform that the tenant has the right to contest the notice in writing within 15 days from receipt of the letter.
In case the tenant does not object to the landlord’s claim, the landlord can deduct the amount claimed and return the remaining funds of the deposit to the tenant within 30 days (counting from the written notice).
Nonetheless, in case the tenant decides to object to the landlord’s claim, the parties will have to settle the question in court.
What If a Landlord Sells the Rental Property While Holding the Tenant’s Security Deposit?
In case the landlord sells the rental property, the security deposits and all interest earned must be transferred back to the tenant with a written receipt. The written receipt must demonstrate that the full amount has been transferred.
Tenant Security Deposit Law – We Can Help You to Protect Your Rights
You do not need to waste time with uncertainty and risk losing money in the process. Get in touch with Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a consultation.