Tenants' Security Deposit Rights in Florida
Including Amount of Deposit and Timeline for Return
Tenants in Florida have certain security deposit rights that are protected under landlord tenant law. A landlord must follow these rules including, procedures for storing the deposit, reasons deductions can be taken and the number of days after a tenant moves out the landlord has to return the deposit. Here are seven basic security deposit rules in Florida.
Is There a Security Deposit Limit in Florida?
Unfortunately for tenants, Florida's landlord tenant law does not limit the amount of security deposit that a landlord can charge. Even though there is no limit, in most cases, landlords will not charge more than two months’ rent as a security deposit.
Landlords understand that excessive security deposit amounts will cause prospective tenants to look at other rentals instead. One to two months' rent is enough to protect landlords against potential damage, eviction and vacancy costs, without limiting the prospective tenants who are interested in the property.
Storing Security Deposit During Tenancy in Florida
Landlords in Florida must store a tenant's security deposit in one of three ways:
- Non-Interest Bearing Account- Landlords can place the tenant’s security deposit in a non-interest bearing bank account in the state of Florida. The money cannot be mixed with any other funds or used before it is actually due to the landlord.
- Interest Bearing Account- The second option is to 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. The landlord must also pay the tenant five percent interest annually on the bond.
Written Notice Required After Receipt of Deposit in Florida?
Yes. A landlord is required to notify the tenant in writing no more than 30 days after receiving the security deposit. The notice must include:
- The name and address of the bank or institution where the security deposit is being held.
- If the tenant’s funds are being kept separate or if they are being commingled with other funds for the benefit of the tenant
- The interest rate at which the security deposit is being held (if it is being held in an interest bearing account)
- This notice can be delivered by mail or in person.
Moving the Deposit
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.
3 Reasons You Can Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Florida
- There are certain legally allowed reasons a landlords may be able to make deductions from a tenant's security deposit. In Florida, landlords may be able to make deductions from the security deposit
- To cover unpaid rent.
- For damage to the apartment in excess of normal wear and tear.
- Other violations of the lease agreement.
Does a Tenant Have the Right to a Walk Through Inspection?
No, in the state of Florida, a landlord is not required to do a walk through inspection prior to move-out.
Returning a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Florida
If Security Deposit Is Being Returned in Full:
Landlords must return the security deposit within 15 days of lease termination along with any interest the tenant has earned on the security deposit.
If Deductions Have Been Made From the Deposit:
Landlords have 30 days from the termination of the lease to notify the tenant in writing of their intention to keep a portion of the tenant's security deposit. If the landlord fails to notify the tenant in writing within 30 days, the landlord forfeits the right to keep any portion of the security deposit. The written notice must:
- Be sent by certified mail to the address on file for the tenant. It is the tenant’s responsibility to provide the landlord with a forwarding address. If they do not, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with written notice of the security deposit.
- State the intention to keep a portion or all of the security deposit and list the reasons why.
- 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 the claim on the security deposit:
The landlord can deduct the amount claimed and then return the remainder of the security deposit to the tenant within 30 days of the initial written notice.
- If the tenant does object to the claim:
The matter could go to court. Whichever party wins will be entitled to the court awarded sum, plus court costs and attorney fees from the losing party.
Tenants' Security Deposit Rights If Landlord Sells Property
If the landlord sells the rental property, he or she must 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.
The former landlord will then be relieved of any responsibility for holding the money on the tenant’s behalf. If the tenant or landlord violated any security terms before the transfer, he or she 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 see Statute 83.49.