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Should I Get My Security Deposit Back?

Jan. 8, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of people rent property in Florida. Some rent because they are only here part of the year; others rent because it is a more attractive option than buying. Whatever your reasons may be for renting, you should know your rights as a tenant.

For instance, if you rent, then you likely paid a security deposit. In most cases, renters expect to receive all or part of this deposit back upon the expiration of a lease. However, there are some circumstances under which a landlord may keep the deposit, not all of which are lawful.

A security deposit can be used as advance rent or to secure the performance of your rental agreement. As such, legitimate reasons why a landlord might keep a security deposit include:

  • To cover excessive damage to the property

  • To replace stolen or missing items

  • To hire exterminators due to pest infestation

  • To cover unpaid rent

A landlord cannot deduct money from or retain a security deposit for:

  • Normal wear-and-tear

  • Damage to property stemming from age rather than misuse

  • Operational costs or expenses incurred by the landlord

  • Utilities and other expenses that were not agreed to in the lease

In accordance with Florida landlord and tenant laws, landlords must return a deposit within 15 days of the termination of a lease. However, if they intend to retain all or part of the deposit, the landlord has 30 days to get a certified letter to the tenant informing them of the reasons for the claim on the deposit.

If you object to the claim on a deposit, you have 15 days from the time you receive the letter to submit a written objection.

Understanding the basic elements of renting in Florida can be crucial in resolving any legal dispute that may arise, including wrongful retention of a security deposit. Having said that, you don’t need to be a legal professional to sign a lease.

However, to avoid or resolve complicated legal matters when signing or challenging a lease, you can work with an attorney who has the knowledge and experience in Florida rental laws that you do not.