7 Basics of Florida's Security Deposit Law
How Much You Can Charge and the Rules for Returning
Florida tenants have certain basic rights when it comes to their security deposits. These rights are part of Florida’s landlord tenant law. Here are seven things every landlord should know to protect themselves when they collect a security deposit from their tenants.
7 Basic Questions About Security Deposits in Florida:
- Amount- No Limit
- Storing- Non-Interest Account, Interest Account or Surety Bond
- Written Notice- Required After Receipt
- Keeping Deposit- Unpaid Rent, Damages, Other Lease Violations
- Walk-Through Inspection- Not Required
- Returning Deposit- 15 Days If No Deductions or 30 Days If Deductions
- Selling Property- Must Transfer Deposits to New Buyer
1. Is There a Security Deposit Limit in Florida?
In the state of Florida, there is no limit on the amount of security deposit you can charge. In most cases, you do not need to charge more than one and a half or two months’ rent. This amount will help protect you against potential damage, eviction and vacancy costs, without limiting the prospective tenants who are interested in your property.
2. How Must You Store the Security Deposit in Florida?
You have three different options for storing a tenant's security deposit in Florida:
- Non-Interest Bearing Account- You can place the tenant’s security deposit in a non-interest bearing bank account in the state of Florida. You cannot mix the money with any other funds or use any of the money before it is actually due to the landlord.
- Interest Bearing Account- You can place the tenant’s security deposit in an interest-bearing bank account in the state of Florida. The landlord is required to pay the tenant any interest earned annually and at the end of the lease term. The interest can be paid directly to the tenant or the interest can be credited back to the tenant in the form of rent. The landlord must not mix the money with any other funds or use any of the money before it is actually due to him or her. If the tenant breaks their lease, no interest is due to the landlord.
- Surety Bond- The landlord can post a surety bond for the amount of the security deposit, or $50,000, whichever is less. The surety bond must be posted in the county where the rental property is located. A surety bond is meant to protect the tenant if the landlord does not fulfill their obligations. The landlord must also pay the tenant five percent interest annually on the bond.
3. Is Written Notice Required After Receipt of the Security Deposit in Florida?
Yes. A landlord is required to notify the tenant in writing no more than 30 days after receipt of the security deposit. The notice shall state:
- A. The name and address of the bank or institution where the security deposit is being held.
- B. If the tenant’s funds are being kept separate or if they are being commingled with other funds for the benefit of the tenant
- C. The interest rate at which the security deposit is being held (if it is being held in an interest bearing account)
- D. This notice can be delivered by mail or in person.
In addition, if the landlord changes the location or the terms at which the security deposit is being held, he or she must again notify the tenant in writing within 30 days.
4. What Are Some Reasons You Can Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Florida?
In Florida, landlords may be able to make deductions from the security deposit to cover unpaid rent, damage to the apartment in excess of normal wear and tear and other violations of the lease agreement.
5. Is a Walk Through Inspection Required in Florida?
No, in the state of Florida, a landlord is not required to do a walk through inspection prior to move-out.
6. When Must You Return a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Florida?
If you plan to return the security deposit in full:
You must return the security deposit within 15 days of lease termination along with any interest the tenant has earned on the security deposit.
If you plan to keep a portion of the security deposit:
You have 30 days from the termination of the lease to notify the tenant in writing of your intention to keep a portion of their security deposit. If you, the landlord, fail to notify the tenant in writing within 30 days, you automatically forfeit your right to keep any portion of the security deposit. The written notice must:
- A. Be sent by certified mail to the address you have on file for the tenant. It is the tenant’s responsibility to provide you with a forwarding address. If they do not, the landlord is not required to provide them with written notice of the security deposit.
- B. State your intention to keep a portion or all of the security deposit and list the reasons why.
- C. Inform the tenant they have 15 days from receipt of this letter to contest it, but they must contest it in writing.
The Florida Statute suggests using a statement similar to this one:
“This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of ___ upon your security deposit, due to___ . It is sent to you as required by s. 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 (landlord’s address) .”
- If the tenant does not object to your claim on the security deposit:
You can deduct the amount you had claimed and then return the remainder of the security deposit to the tenant within 30 days of your initial written notice.
- If the tenant does object to your claim:
The matter could go to court. Whichever party wins will be entitled to the court awarded sum, plus will be allowed to recover court costs and attorney fees from the losing party.
7. What Happens to the Security Deposit If You Sell Your Property?
If you sell your rental property, it is your responsibility to transfer the security deposits and any interest earned to the new buyer. A written receipt must also be creating showing the amount that has been transferred. You will then be relieved of any responsibility for holding the money on the tenant’s behalf. If you did violate any security terms before the transfer, you will still be held responsible for those violations.
What Is Florida's Security Deposit Law?
For the original text of the security deposit law in Florida, please consult Statute 83.49.