SECURITY DEPOSIT DISPUTES
Florida law requires that if a landlord does not
intend to impose any claim against a tenant’s security deposit the entire security deposit must be returned to the tenant
within 15 days of the tenant vacating the rental unit.
If the landlord does intent to make a claim against
the security deposit then the landlord must within 30 days of the tenant vacating the rental unit inform the tenant in writing
of 1) the landlord intention to make a claim against the security deposit 2) the reason the claim is being made 3) inform
the tenant that if the tenant does not agree the tenant must object in writing within 15 days of receiving the landlord’s
notice and 4) provide the tenant an address where the tenant’s objection can be sent.
While the timing of the return of the security
deposit and claim notice may seem confusing it can be put in simpler terms. Once
the tenant moves out, the landlord inspects the premises and if upon the inspection the landlord determines that the rented
premises have been returned in satisfactory condition and the landlord will not make a claim against the security deposit
then the landlord must return it to the tenant within 15 days of the tenant’s move-out date. If however, upon the inspection the landlord determines that damage to the unit has been caused and a claim
against the security deposit will be made, then the landlord must make repairs or at the very least have estimates prepared
and provide notice to the tenant within 30days of the tenant’s move-out date.
Florida law requires that the notice to the tenant
be sent via certified mail. Even though the law has been interpreted by some
courts not to necessarily require the notice being sent via certified mail it is always an excellent idea to do so. Even if the landlord and tenant have a friendly and casual relationship and there appears to be some agreement
as to needed repairs. The landlord should always send out the required notice
via certified mail or the landlord will lose the right to make the claim. Landlord
/ tenant disputes largely revolve around notices and their delivery.
The items for which a landlord can make a claim
for is a little trickier. The law allows the landlord to make a claim for all
damages with the exception of normal wear and tear. Which begs the question,
what is normal wear and tear? The answer is: it depends!
How to define normal wear and tear depends on
how long the tenant lived in the rental unit and what item needs to needs to be repaired or replaced. Example, a landlord installs new carpet in a unit and then rents it out to the same tenant for 10 years. When the tenant vacates it very likely that the carpet will have to be replaced and
this will likely be due to normal wear and tear. The opposite would be; a landlord
installs new carpet in a unit and rents it out the same tenant for a period of 6 months.
When the tenant vacates the carpet has holes and stains in it and must be replaced this is likely not normal wear and
tear and a claim on the security deposit may be warranted. Another example would
be with appliances, a tenant lives in a unit for a year that has a 10 year old dishwasher, upon vacating the dishwasher needs
repairs and the landlord decides to replace it. Because of the age of the dishwasher
it will probably be considered normal wear and tear.
NOTICE OF INTENT
TO MAKE A CLAIM ON SECURITY DEPOSIT
VIA CERTIFIED MAIL
Current Address: _____________________
NOTICE OF CLAIM
AGAINST SECURITY DEPOSIT
Rental Property Address: ____________________
Accept this as notice of my intention
to impose a claim for damages in the amount of $___________________ upon your security deposit because of:
done and cost)
It is sent to you as required by
§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 my address at _____________________________________________.