Florida law allows landlords to collect a security deposit as part of a tenant’s move-in costs. However, the same set of laws places certain restrictions on how you can do it. For instance, what deductions you can make, how to store it, and when to return it, among other things.
As a landlord in Florida, it’s important to understand the state’s security deposit laws to avoid potential issues regarding a tenant’s security deposit.
Is There a Limit to How Much Security Deposit a Landlord Can Charge in Florida?
Fortunately for landlords, there is no limit to the security deposit amount you can ask a tenant for. This isn’t, however, to mean that you should overcharge tenants. While it is not against the Florida landlord-tenant law, it will foster a negative landlord-tenant relationship.
Generally speaking, you should ask for a deposit ranging anywhere between one and two months’ rent. This should be enough to cover potential liabilities such as unpaid utilities and damage outside of normal wear and tear.
How Must Florida Landlords Store the Security Deposit?
You must store a tenant’s deposit in one of three ways. You can store the deposit in a standard account, an interest-bearing one, or post the deposit as a surety bond.
You must not mix the funds with other funds. Additionally, the financial institution holding the funds must be located in the state of Florida. If you choose to store the deposit in an interest-bearing account, you must pay the tenant the interest due at the end of the year.
If posting the deposit as a surety bond, the amount must be for the deposit amount, or $50,000, whichever is less.
Are Landlords in Florida Required to Notify their Tenants After Receipt of the Security Deposit?
Yes, landlords are required to do so. Within 30 days of receiving the tenant’s security deposit, you must let them know of certain information. Including:
- How much money you received
- Where and how you’re storing the tenant’s security deposit
- If keeping the deposit in an interest-bearing account, the rate of interest the amount is earning
You must deliver the notice to the tenant either in person or by mail.
What Can Landlords Deduct from a Tenant’s Security Deposit?
As a landlord, you may be able to deduct a couple of things from a tenant’s security deposit. They include the following.
Did the tenant move out without paying rent due? You can compensate for the loss by making appropriate deductions on a tenant’s security deposit.
You can hold a tenant liable for the cost of getting the property professionally cleaned if they leave it in a dire state of uncleanliness. The cleaning fee must be reasonable and specifically stated in the lease agreement.
You can hold the tenant liable for any monetary damage you incur as a result of a lease violation. For instance, if the tenant breaks the lease early without a legally justified reason. Examples of such reasons include job relocation, divorce, separation, or buying a home.
Also, please note that Florida landlords aren’t required to mitigate damages after a tenant breaks their lease.
Costs of Damages
The costs of damages excluding normal wear and tear can be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit. This is the kind of damage that occurs as a result of a tenant’s negligence or carelessness.
What Does Florida Consider to be Damage?
First and foremost, it’s important to understand what normal wear and tear is. Florida defines normal wear and tear as deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property normally. Examples include stained bath fixtures, gently worn carpets, loose door handles, and faded paint.
You must not hold the tenant liable for fixing such types of damages.
The other type of damage that can occur on a rental property is one exceeding normal wear and tear. Examples include broken windows, missing fixtures, holes in the wall, and heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets. You can hold the tenant liable for fixing such damages before moving out.
Can a Tenant Use the Security Deposit as the Final Month’s Rent in Florida?
Florida law doesn’t forbid a tenant from using their security deposit as their final rental payment or for paying due rent. You can, however, forbid tenants from doing so by including a provision in the lease agreement.
Do Tenants in Florida Have a Right to Be Present during a Walk-Through Inspection?
Landlords perform walk-through inspections to document the condition of the premises. The goal is to determine if the tenant has caused damage on top of or outside of normal wear and tear.
Some states give tenants the right to perform a walk-through inspection whereas others don’t. The latter is true for Florida tenants. However, landlords can decide to allow the tenant to be present so long as they feel safe, even if the tenant was evicted.
When Must Landlords Return Their Tenants’ Security Deposits in Florida?
If you’re not making any deductions, you must return the deposit back to the tenant within 15 days after they leave. With deductions, you must notify the tenant of your intentions to withhold part or all of the deposit within 30 days of leaving the premises.
You must send the written statement of deductions to the tenant via certified mail. The statement must state your reason for making the deductions, as well as the costs. Upon receipt of the notice, the tenant may choose to contest it. This they must do within 15 days of receiving the notice.
However, in the absence of a contest, you’ll have 30 days of the initial written notice to send the remainder of the deposit. As such, in total, you’ll have a maximum of 60 days to return the tenant’s deposit when making deductions, if you send the statement on the 30th day.
The Florida security deposit law is simply one of many laws that you must familiarize yourself with under Florida laws. If you have a question or need expert help in managing your property, Central Florida Property Management can help.
We’re the fastest-growing property management company in Orlando. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you grow your investment portfolio!
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.