How To Hold And Refund Security Deposits
Ninety-nine percent of all of the lawsuits between landlords and tenants, that are filed in county small claims courts in Florida, are over security deposit disputes. Landlords typically file lawsuits against former tenants for the cost of damages or accrued rent, that exceed the amount of the security deposit. Tenants usually file small claims lawsuits against former landlords, who fail to return their security deposits, or impose unsupported claims against their security deposits.
How the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act Defines "Security Deposits"
The Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, defines "security deposits" as, "Any moneys held by the landlord as security for the performance of the rental agreement, including, but not limited to, monetary damage to the landlord caused by the tenant’s breach of lease prior to the expiration thereof."
Time Limits Imposed on Landlords to Refund Tenants' Security Deposits
Under the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, landlords have:
1. Fifteen days from the date a tenant vacates their rental property to refund the full security deposit.
2. Thirty days from the date a tenant vacates their rental property to mail a written Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the tenant's last known mailing address. Landlords who fail to notify a tenant within the thirty-day period, forfeit their right to impose a claim upon a security deposit.
3. Thirty days from the date a Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit was mailed to a tenant, to refund the balance of the security deposit.
When to Send Tenants a Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit
The Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires that landlords send a Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit to their former tenants who have:
1. Caused damage to your rental property by being negligent.
2. Terminated their rental agreement before it expired.
3. Been evicted under a writ of possession.
4. Abandoned the rental property.
Chapter thirteen of The Florida Landlord's Manual contains detailed information on how to hold and refund tenants' security deposits.