Mistakes Made By Residential Landlords in Handling Security Deposits

February 27th, 2017

Mistakes Made By Residential Landlords in Handling Security Deposits

A frequent pitfall for residential landlords is not understanding the obligation to return lease deposits on a timely basis or otherwise properly document a claim on the deposit. This problem becomes obvious when a tenant damages an apartment and the landlord would normally have a claim against the deposit but fails to comply with the statutory requirements. In most Florida leases, there are normally provisions for returning the security deposit to the tenant. If the lease doesn't give details on how the security deposit is to be returned, then Florida Statute 83.49, name of statute, will provide the details.

Under Florida Statute 83.49, "[u]pon the vacating of the premises for termination of the lease, if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit, the landlord shall have 15 days to return the security deposit together with interest, if otherwise required." Thus, a landlord has 15 days to return your security deposit if he has not expressed his intent to retain the deposit.

However, if the landlord decides to make a claim against that money, then he or she has 30 days to give the tenant proper legal notice (in writing and sent by certified mail) that he or she is making a claim against the money. The notice has to provide details, and the landlord has to follow the language of Florida Statute 83.49(3)(a).

If the landlord fails to give the required notice within the 30-day period, he or she forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit and may not seek a set off against the deposit but may file an action for damages after return of the deposit. If your landlord attempts to keep the security deposit without complying with Florida Statute 83.49, you may need to submit an Objection to Claim for Security Deposit. Please contact me so that I may help you obtain your security deposit.

This article is solely a partial explanation of all the issues related to the topic of this newsletter, and is not to be considered legal advice. For any questions related to real estate law or landlord/tenant law, you should consult with your counsel to obtain explanations of all issues addressed herein. This Newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a legal opinion.