Florida landlords typically require a security deposit to cover damage the tenant causes beyond the usual wear and tear. But what landlords may not know is that the Florida statutes (Section 83.49 of the Florida Statutes) contain specific rules about how they must handle security deposits.
Here are some of the statute's key provisions:
Landlords have three options for how they can hold tenants' security deposits. They can do so in either:
- A non-interest-bearing bank account that is separate from the landlord's own account;
- An interest-bearing bank account that is separate from the landlord's own account, and pay the tenants the interest;
- Post a bond with the circuit court clerk equal to the amount of the deposits or $50,000, whichever is less.
If the landlord does not intend to make a claim on the security deposit, the landlord has 15 days to return the deposit to the tenant. If the landlord intends to make a claim on the security deposit, the landlord has 30 days to give the tenant written notice by certified mail. The notice must include the reason for the claim. Unless the tenant objects to the landlord's claim within 15 days, the landlord may deduct the amount of the claim and send the rest of the deposit to the tenant within 30 days. If either the landlord or the tenant files a lawsuit over the security deposit, the losing party must pay the prevailing party's attorney's fees and court costs. Depending on what city or county you are in, there might be local landlord-tenant ordinances that include additional requirements.
If you have any questions regarding landlord-tenant issues or other real estate law issues, please do not hesitate to contact me, Santiago J. Padilla, Esq., either at (305) 824-2400 or contact us online.