Understanding Florida’s Security Deposit Laws

Providing a security deposit is a requirement to rent a property in most leasing agreements in Florida. The security deposit is any money the landlord requires you to give aside from an advance on your rent. It is a refundable sum the landlord will keep for the duration of your leasing arrangement. After you move out, the landlord will use part or all of your deposit for any necessary repairs. Understanding Florida’s security deposit laws could help you protect yourself as a renter.

Can a Landlord Legally Require a Security Deposit?

Yes, it is lawful for a landlord or property owner to require some type of security deposit before allowing an applicant to rent a home or apartment. A security deposit protects a landlord from having to pay out of pocket for repairs to the damaged property after the party moves out. It could also cover a loss due to a renter’s nonpayment of rent, or cover the costs of finding a new tenant if the tenant breaks a lease. Finally, a landlord could use part or all of a security deposit as a cleaning fee if a tenant leaves the apartment in worse condition than when he or she moved in.

How Does a Landlord Calculate the Required Deposit?

According to Florida’s landlord-tenant laws, no cap exists on the security deposit a landlord can charge a tenant to move into a property. A landlord can calculate the security deposit as he or she wishes. In most cases, the security deposit will equal an amount that is one to two times the monthly rent. The amount may vary according to the tenant’s credit score.

How May a Landlord Store Your Security Deposit in Florida?

State landlord-tenant laws list three ways in which a landlord must store a tenant’s security deposit for the duration of the leasing term. First, the landlord can store it by posting a surety bond. This is a legal promise in which one party guarantees the performance of another party to a third party.

The second method is in a bank account that pays interest on the balance. In this case, the landlord must pay the tenant the interest accrued at the end of the lease period. Third, the landlord could store the money in an account that does not accrue interest. Within 30 days of giving your landlord a security deposit, he or she should give you a written notice with the name and address of the bank, as well as the method of storing your deposit.

Can a Landlord Keep Your Security Deposit in Florida?

Yes, a landlord has the legal right to keep a fraction or all of the security deposit you gave under certain conditions in Florida. The landlord must have a valid reason for keeping your deposit, such as damage done to the property. Typically, a landlord requires tenants to return the property in the condition in which he or she found it.

The landlord will use a walkthrough inspection to determine how much of a security deposit to keep, in which the tenant will list any noticeable damages upon moving in. If, after move-out, the property has new damages, unpaid utilities, unpaid rent or requires excessive cleaning, the landlord will have the right to keep an appropriate amount of the security deposit for reparations. A landlord cannot, however, keep your security deposit as the last month’s rent at your location.

Can You File a Claim for a Withheld Security Deposit in Florida?

If you did not leave the rented property in a state of disrepair or with any unpaid debts, your landlord should return the full amount of your security deposit within 15 days of you moving out. If your landlord will deduct any of your deposit for repairs or repayments, he or she must notify you within 30 days. Missing this deadline means your landlord forfeits the right to keep any part of your deposit.

You have the chance to object to the landlord’s intended deductions, after which your case may go to small claims court in Florida. In this situation, hire a Tampa insurance claim attorney to represent you while you go up against a landlord. During your security deposit hearing, you or your lawyer will state your side of the case and the landlord will give his or hers. Then, a judge will rule in one side’s favor. The winning party will receive the security deposit, as well as additional money for legal fees. A lawyer can help you with all matters related to a security deposit in Florida.