A security deposit helps protect a landlord against financial damage, albeit to a certain extent. As a landlord in Florida, you can make deductions to your tenant’s deposit for the following allowable reasons.
- If your tenant moves out without paying rent due.
- If your tenant moves out with pending utility payments.
- The cost of fixing damage exceeds normal wear and tear.
- Any other charges that are allowed under the terms of the agreement.
As a landlord in Florida, the collection and return of security deposits are regulated by law (FL Stat. § 83.49). This law contains a set of rules that all landlords who require tenants to pay a security deposit must abide by.
The following are answers to commonly asked questions regarding Florida security deposit laws.
Is There a Limit to How Much Security Deposit a Landlord in Florida Can Charge?
No, there is no limit to how much you can charge for a security deposit according to Florida landlord-tenant law. The statewide statute doesn’t limit how much you can charge your tenants as a security deposit. It may, however, be in your best interest to charge your tenants a reasonable amount. Say, the equivalent of one month’s rent.
Charging tenants a reasonable amount will ensure that your rental property remains competitive and that you’re fairly protected against any potential financial damage.
Can You Ask Tenants for an Additional Pet Deposit in Florida?
Yes, Florida law allows landlords to charge tenants an additional pet deposit. Typically, this deposit ranges anywhere between $200 and $500. You don’t have to necessarily refund it back to the tenant like the move-in deposit.
That said, please note that there is a difference between a ‘pet’ and a ‘service animal’. The Federal Fair Housing Act considers a service animal as equipment necessary for a disabled person to manage the basic tasks of daily living.
You cannot, therefore, charge a disabled tenant that uses a service animal an additional pet deposit. If you do, that would be considered discrimination. The Federal Fair Housing Act requires landlords to allow disabled tenants to enjoy their homes just like other tenants do.
How Should Landlords in Florida Store Their Tenant’s Security Deposit?
You have three options to consider when it comes to storing your tenant’s security deposit. Storing the deposit in a non-interest-bearing account is the first option. You must not commingle the deposit with your personal funds.
The second option is to store the deposit in an interest-bearing account. You must pay the tenant interest every year and when their lease ends (even if the tenant legally breaks their lease). You can pay the tenant either directly or credit it back as rent. You must also not commingle the deposit with any other funds.
The other option is posting a surety bond. This must be for the amount of the security deposit, or $50,000, whichever is less. The bond must be posted in a company located in the same county that your property is in.
Do Landlords in Florida Have to Provide Their Tenants with a Written Notice of Security Deposit?
Yes, once you receive your tenant’s deposit, you must notify them in writing within 30 days. In the notice, you must include the following details.
- The financial institution where you’re storing your tenant’s security deposit.
- The manner in which you’re storing your tenant’s security deposit. That is, whether you’re storing it separately or with other funds for your tenant’s benefit.
- The annual rate of interest that the deposit is accruing at if storing the deposit in an interest-bearing account.
You must deliver the notice either in person or through registered, certified, or regular mail. If you change the manner in which you’re holding your tenant’s deposit, you must notify your tenant within 30 days of the change.
Can a Landlord Make Deductions on a Tenant’s Security Deposit?
Yes, Florida allows landlords to make deductions to their tenant’s deposit for the following reasons.
- Unpaid rent.
- Financial damage arising from a tenant’s breach of the lease.
- Charges are allowed under the lease agreement. An example would be an early termination fee.
- Cost of repairs exceeding normal wear and tear.
But what exactly is normal wear and tear? Florida defines normal wear and tear as the normal deterioration of a property. These are minor issues that result from aging and normal everyday living.
Examples of normal wear and tear include fading paint, loose door handles, gently worn carpets, dirty grout, lightly scratched glass, stained bath fixtures, and mold.
Damage, on the other hand, refers to the destruction that occurs as a result of carelessness or negligence. Examples include broken windows, holes in the wall, broken tiles, ripped carpets, and missing fixtures.
How Long Does a Landlord Have to Return a Security Deposit?
Landlords in Florida must return their tenant’s deposit within 15 days of their move-out date. If you’re making deductions, then you’ll have a maximum of 30 days to notify them of your intention to make deductions. If you fail to do this, you forfeit the right to make any deductions on their deposit.
Once the tenant receives the notice, they will then have 15 days to lodge any disputes. But in the absence of an objection, you’ll have 30 days to send the tenant a detailed notice of the deductions as well as the remaining portion from the date you served them the written notice.
While no penalties are specified under Florida statutes, it’s unlawful to wrongfully withhold a tenant’s deposit. Your tenant may sue you for the return of the same. If successful, you may have to return three times the wrongfully withheld amount, plus reasonable court and attorney fees.
There you have it. Answers to some of the commonly asked questions regarding the collection and return of security deposits in Florida. If you have more questions, Keyrenter Broward can help.
Keyrenter Broward can take away the stress that comes with managing your Broward County rental property. From advertising your property, to screening tenants, to collecting rent, to inspecting and maintaining it, you won’t have anything to worry about. Get in touch with our team to learn more!
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.