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How Common Are Security Deposit Disputes?

Posted on August 23, 2023 in Uncategorized

Broward County real estate attorneyMany Floridians decide to invest in rental properties as a primary or secondary source of income. While this income stream can be lucrative, it can also be wrought with frustrating – and expensive – issues because of problem tenants. We have all heard horror stories of tenants who damage property, refuse to pay rent, or commit serious violations of lease agreements. One of the most common disputes our firm’s Florida real estate attorneys handle involves security deposits.

Florida Law and Security Deposits

When a tenant rents a property, it is common practice for the landlord to require a security deposit. Under Florida law, there is no cap on what a landlord can require for a deposit, however, in most situations, the deposit is equal to one or one and a half months of rent.

Florida law requires landlords to follow certain rules regarding how that deposit should be stored. There are three legal ways a landlord can hold the security deposit:

  • Post a surety bond.
  • Keep it in an interest-bearing account, with the interest going to the tenant once per year or at the conclusion of the lease.
  • Keep it in a non-interest-bearing account.

Once the tenant has moved out, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within 15 days after the lease has terminated. If for any reason the landlord is withholding either some or all of the deposit, they are required to provide the tenant a written notice explaining why within 30 days of the lease termination. If the landlord fails to comply with either of these two rules, the tenant could be entitled to damages of up to three times the amount of the security deposit and any lawyer fees the tenant had to pay.

A landlord must have a valid reason for withholding any part of the deposit. Some of the most common issues for withholding include:

  • Rent – If the tenant owes rent for prior months.
  • Cleaning – If there was excessive cleaning required due to the condition the tenant left the property.
  • Property damage – If there was damage to the property that is beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  • Unpaid utility bills – If the tenant has unpaid utility bills for the property
  • Breaking the lease – If the tenant has broken the lease by moving before it expired or for any other reason(s) addressed in the lease, the landlord may be able to keep the security deposit, as well as pursue other legal actions.

Contact a Broward County Real Estate Attorney for Legal Assistance

If you are a landlord and have issues with a tenant, do not try to handle the situation without first speaking with a seasoned Fort Lauderdale, FL landlord-tenant dispute lawyer. The state has complex requirements when it comes to the process of handling these disputes, and overlooking even one requirement could jeopardize your case. Call The Elliot Legal Group, P.A. at 754-332-2101 to schedule a private consultation.



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