FL Stat § 83.49 governs the collection and return of security deposits in Florida. To ensure the safety of all parties, these Florida security deposit laws set forth the guidelines that landlords and property managers must adhere to.
But, before we dive into what those are…
Download the Landlord’s Guide to Security Deposit Laws Whitepaper
Get the quintessential guide to security deposit laws on the go from DoorLoop’s “Landlord’s Guide” series.
Click here or on the banner above to download the whitepaper and get all our best tips for collecting and managing security deposits (by the book).
Now, let’s dive in.
Under Florida landlord-tenant law, there is no limit on the amount of a security deposit. Florida's cities and counties, however, are allowed to set a limit on the sum.
A security deposit is an advance sum of money the tenant gives to the landlord for advance rent or as security against any damage to the property.
The landlord may ask for an additional deposit if the tenant has pets. However, access to homes for people with disabilities who use service animals must be full and equal.
Moreover, the landlord may not charge an additional pet deposit for a service animal as per Florida landlord-tenant law.
The lessee is responsible for covering any costs incurred as a result of the service animal's damage to the rental property.
Furthermore, the Federal Fair Housing Act mandates that housing establishments give tenants who use service dogs and emotional support animals equitable access to and enjoyment of their residence.
The landlord has 30 days after receiving the tenant's security deposit to decide how to inform the renter of the specifics and location of the security deposit.
There are three choices available to Florida landlords for keeping security deposits in an account.
The three choices and the associated duties are:
- Interest-bearing Bank Account: The security deposit can be kept by the landlord in a Florida bank in an interest-bearing account. Either 75% of the interest generated or 5% simple interest per year must be credited to the tenant by the landlord. Additionally, the landlord is forbidden from using this account for anything other than security deposits.
- Non-interest Bearing Account: The security deposit may be kept in a non-interest-bearing account in a Florida bank. This account may only be used for security deposits and by the landlord.
- Security Bond or Surety Bond: The landlord has the option of posting a security bond with a surety bond company that has been granted permission by the circuit court clerk. Furthermore, the landlord is also required to pay a 5% simple annual interest on the deposit amount in addition to the bond. The landlord's obligation to uphold security deposit obligations should be a condition of the bond.
Notice of Receipt
Tenants are entitled to an initial written notice after the landlord receives the security deposit via certified mail, in accordance with Florida security deposit law.
Within 30 days of receiving the tenant's deposit, the landlord needs to inform the tenant.
The written notice must include the following details:
- Whether you are keeping the tenant's money separate or combining it with other funds for the lessee's benefit.
- Give written notice of the name and location of the financial institution holding the security deposit to the tenant.
- The interest rate that money would generate if it were kept in an account that earned interest.
If there are no deductions, the landlord must return the security deposit within 15 days of the tenant's departure from the rental unit.
The landlord must give the tenant written notice of any deductions within 30 days if they intend to make any.
Failure to Return
Florida law does not specify a penalty if the landlord does not return the security deposit within the stipulated time period.
The lessee may file a lawsuit against the landlord to obtain its return if the landlord fails or refuses to do so.
If the tenant wins, they are entitled to court expenses as well as reasonable attorneys' fees. However, if the landlord wins, the lessee will be responsible for covering the landlord's expenses.
Notice of Deductions
After the tenant vacates the rental property, the landlord has 30 days to deliver the initial written notice.
Florida landlords will lose the ability to impose any fees or retain the security deposit if this is not done.
After receiving the notice, the tenant will have 15 days to contest the allegations. The landlord may deduct the sums specified in the written notice and restore any residual security deposit, if any, within 30 days of the day the written notice was provided to the renter if the lessee does not object to the charges.
However, if the tenant objects, the matter can be taken to the small claims court.
The tenants must give the landlord at least seven days' notice in writing before vacating the unit where the lease has no defined duration or when the lease has a fixed term but the tenant wants to end it early.
The forwarding address must be included in the notification of termination. Moreover, the landlord will be released from their obligation to give the tenant the previously mentioned written notice of deductions if they fail to do so.
Florida landlords may deduct the following from the security deposit:
- Unpaid rent.
- Fees stated in the rental agreement (e.g. early lease termination fee).
- Cost of repairing any damage in excess of normal wear and tear.
- Cost of monetary damage caused by the tenant breaching the lease.
The landlord may withhold payments when they become due, even if a portion of the security deposit was designated as advanced rent.
The Bottom Line
Any landlord who elects to charge a security deposit in a rental agreement must be mindful of the Florida security deposit law. These laws explain how to store the security deposit, how much you can charge, and how to use it in accordance with Florida law. These laws are in place to help you maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship.
Can the Tenant Use the Security Deposit as the Last Month's Rent?
Not normally; however, it is possible if the parties agree to it in writing.
Is a Walk-Through Inspection Necessary?
Both the landlord and the tenant conduct a walk-through inspection of the rental property to look for any unauthorized alterations or damage to the unit. This is not necessary in Florida.
What Are the Reasons for a Landlord Keeping the Tenant's Security Deposit?
Landlords are permitted to withhold a tenant's security deposit for many reasons, such as to cover unpaid rent, excessive property damage, etc.
What Happens to the Tenant's Security Deposit When There Is a Change in Property Ownership?
The landlord must give the security deposit and any accumulated interest to the new owner in the event of a change in property ownership. A receipt for the transfer of funds is necessary. After completing this, the former landlord will no longer be liable for the tenant's security deposit.