Florida law requires a landlord to return the security deposit to the tenant within 15  after a tenant moves out of the rental unit. If the landlord intends to make a claim against your security deposit, they must send you written notice by certified mail within 30 days providing a detailed list of charges being claimed against the deposit and giving the tenant notice of the tenant’s right to dispute the claim against their deposit. When moving out, it is very important for the tenant to give the landlord a forwarding address and/or to request the Postal Service to forward the tenant’s mail to a new address. If the landlord fails to return your deposit and fails to send the required notice, or sends a defective notice, then the landlord waives the right to claim the deposit and the tenant can sue the landlord to recover the security deposit to the tenant, pay court costs and legal fees.

The Following are common problems tenants encounter with security deposits:

1.) “My landlord never sent me my security deposit back. Can he do that?”
No. It is unlawful for a landlord to keep the security deposit with notice. A landlord has a total of 15 days to return it without a claim against, it or make a claim within 30 days with written notice sent by certified mail to the tenant. The notice must state the landlord’s intention to impose a claim on the security deposit, the amount of the claim, and provide notice of the tenant’s right to dispute the claim. If the landlord fails to provide the required notice by certified mail, or sends a notice lacking any required part, the landlord loses the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit.

2.) My landlord is taking half of my security deposit for wear and tear of the apartment. Can he do that?

Probably not. Tenants are not liable for normal wear and tear to a rental property.  The following are examples of normal wear and tear that landlords sometimes seek to use to justify keeping a security deposit:

  • Replacement of worn carpet that is several years old.
  •  Charges for normal cleaning.
  • Replacement of carpet by tile flooring.
  • Repainting a rental property that has not been painted in more than 3 years.
  • Routine maintenance.
  • Remodeling or refurbishing.
  • Replacement of old appliances with new appliances.

If you’re having trouble with your landlord returning your security deposit, schedule a free consultation with me to speak about your rights.