Can I sue my Landlord for not Returning my Security Deposit?
Under Florida law, a landlord may retain a tenant’s security deposit, but there are a few steps that need to occur before the security deposit, or a portion thereof, is withheld. If the tenant leaves the premises, and the landlord does not intend to retain the security deposit, the landlord has fifteen (15) days from the date the tenant vacated the premises to return the security deposit.
However, if the landlord does intend to keep the security deposit, the landlord needs to provide the tenant with written notice of his or her intention to do so. It is important that the landlord provide the tenant with notice about the intent within thirty (30) days; otherwise, the landlord forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit. Florida Statute 83.49 provides an example of what the notice should include which can be found below. This written notice needs to be provided via certified mail to the tenant within thirty (30) days after the tenant has left the premises. The tenant has fifteen (15) days to object to the landlord’s notice and, in the event the tenant does not object, the landlord can deduct the amount mentioned in his or her claim and return the rest to the tenant within thirty (30) days. If either party decides to adjudicate the right to retain the security deposit, the prevailing party is entitled to attorney’s fees and costs.
Example of notice as included in Fla. Stat. 83.49(3)(a):
This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of $_________ upon your security deposit, due to __________. It is sent to you as required by Sec. 83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit within 15 days from the time you receive this notice, or I will be authorized to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent to (landlord’s address).
What can a Landlord Deduct from Security Deposit in Florida?
There are a few things a landlord can deduct from a security deposit at the end of a lease. They can deduct the cost of fixing any damages to the property caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests. This should not include ordinary wear and tear. They can deduct the cost of cleaning the unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in. Also, if there is any unpaid rent, they can deduct it as well.
If there are any deductions, then the Florida landlord must notify the renter within 30 days of their intention. Failure to do this within 30 days, the landlord forfeits their right to make any deductions. If the renter doesn’t object to the deductions, then the landlord has 30 days after the initial written notice to return a portion of the deposit to the renter.