In Florida, practically every landlord requires a security deposit. A tenant gives it to the landlord as proof of intent. It signals that they will cover any damages and pay rent as per the terms of the lease agreement.
The Florida security deposit laws are contained under the statewide landlord-tenant laws. Since security deposits are often a source of conflict between landlords and tenants, knowing these laws is crucial.
If you’re a landlord or tenant in Florida, here is everything you need to know about the state’s security deposit laws.
1. Limit on Tenant’s Deposits
Florida’s landlord-tenant laws state that there is no limit to the security deposit amount a landlord can charge. But generally speaking, most landlords charge the equivalent of one- and a half or two month’s rent.
2. Storing a Tenant’s Deposit
In Florida, landlords can store a tenant’s deposit in three ways. One, by posting a surety bond. Two, by storing it in an account that bears interest. The interest accrued should be paid to the tenant annually and at the end of the lease period. Lastly, the landlord can store the tenant’s deposit in a non-interest yielding account.
3. Written Notice Requirement
The Florida rental laws state that landlords need to notify tenants in writing within 30 days after receiving their deposit. The notice must state the following things:
- The name and address of the financial institution holding the renter’s deposit.
- How the tenant’s deposit is being kept. Is it co-mingled with other funds or is it kept separate?
- The amount of interest rate accruing (if the deposit is stored in an interest-bearing account).
If for whatever reason the landlord changes the location or terms at which the deposit is being held, he or she must notify the tenant in writing within 30 days.
4. Walk-Through Inspection Requirement
A walk-through inspection helps to check the property’s condition. Typically, landlords require tenants to return the property as close to its initial condition as possible. If the tenant doesn’t, the landlord may hold them liable for the excessive damages.
Examples of excessive property damages (past normal wear and tear) include:
- Missing door handles
- Burns and chips in the laminate countertop
- Broken bathroom tiles
- Stained carpet and linoleum
- Unauthorized painting by tenant or drawings on walls
But back to the question at hand: Is a walk through inspection required under Florida? No, it’s not a requirement under Florida’s security deposit laws.
5. Keeping a Tenant’s Security Deposit
A renter must adhere to all terms of the Florida lease for the landlord to return their security deposit. If not the Florida landlord has the right to only return the appropriate portion of the deposit. Below are some examples of when a landlord doesn’t have to return a tenant’s deposit.
- Unpaid utilities: If a renter has neglected to pay their utility bills, then they aren’t entitled to the return of their deposit.
- Cleaning costs: Normally, the landlord cannot use part of the tenant’s deposit to cover cleaning costs. But, if the cleaning needed is excessive, then they have the right to do so.
- Property damage: If the damage to the property is excessive, then the landlord has a right to make appropriate deductions from the renter’s deposit. Broken windows, broken bathroom vanity, and cracked kitchen or bathroom countertop are good examples.
- Nonpayment of rent: Nonpayment of rent is considered a breach of the lease.
- Lease termination: A lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant. If a tenant breaks it, they could lose their deposit and face other legal and financial ramifications as well.
6. Returning a Tenant’s Deposit
In regards to security deposits, the Florida statute requires a landlord to return a tenant’s deposit within 15 days after they move out. In addition, the landlord must also include any interest accrued.
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.
However, if the tenant objects, then the landlord can move to a small claims court.
7. Change in Property Ownership
The landlord has two options if they sell their property. One, to transfer all the tenant’s deposits to the incoming owner. Then, notify the tenant. The notice must include the name of the new owner as well as the transferred amounts. Once this is done, the incoming landlord takes all liabilities pertaining to the deposit.
Or two, return all deposits directly to the renter. If there are deductions, then the landlord must also include an itemized list of the deductions alongside the portion of the deposit being returned.
There you have it. A summary of Florida’s security deposit laws. If you have specific questions, kindly feel free to ask us any time!