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How to Protect Your Security Deposit as a Tenant in Florida

How to Protect Your Security Deposit as a Florida Renter

The security deposit you pay to your landlord in Florida helps protect your landlord in case of property damage or non-payment of rent. Your security deposit is a significant amount of money, and you may be counting on your landlord to return it in full and promptly because you may need this money for your move or new home. At Flaxman Law Group, our lawyers often hear from concerned tenants and we've put together this guide on how to protect your security deposit as a Florida renter. Whether you're in Miami, Hollywood, or any other community, you can use these tips to protect your rights.

If you do find yourself having trouble recovering your security deposit, contact Flaxman Law Group at 970-999-0530 to schedule a consultation with a Florida landlord-tenant attorney so you can find out what legal options you may have. We have offices in Miami, Hollywood, and Homestead to help protect renters across Southern Florida.

Step 1: Understand Florida's Security Deposit Laws

The first step to protecting your security deposit as a Florida renter is to make sure you understand the laws. For example, under Florida laws, landlords can only withhold security deposits for non-payment of rent or utilities, damages beyond normal wear and tear, and similar reasons. If your landlord tries to claim that security deposits are non-refundable, you're in a better position to protect your security deposit if you know this is not legal.

Step 2: Read and Follow Your Lease Agreement

You should carefully review your lease agreement before signing, especially the section that outlines the terms and conditions related to the security deposit. Knowing and meeting your obligations as a tenant, including any restrictions or requirements regarding the use and return of the deposit, increases the chances you'll get your security deposit back.

Step 3: Document Everything

When you move into a property in Miami, Hollywood, or anywhere else in Florida, ask for a move-in walk-through with a manager or landlord. If possible, note down any existing damage or issues in writing. Have both you and the landlord sign this document. Take photos and videos of these areas, too.

If you need to communicate with your landlord about anything related to repairs, submit written requests and keep copies of the emails or letters you send. Take photos of the damage and any repairs that are completed.

All of this documentation can help you prove your case if you're ever in a landlord-tenant dispute because of a security deposit issue at your Florida rental.

Step 3: Report Damages Promptly

If you notice any damages or issues during your tenancy, report them to your landlord as soon as possible. Reporting issues fast shows you want to maintain the property and prevent further damage. Always keep copies of any reports you send in about damage and note down when or if the issue is resolved.

Step 4: Provide Plenty of Notice of Move-Out

Give your landlord written notice according to the terms of your lease agreement. Failure to give adequate notice can make it harder for your landlord to find another tenant in time, and this can make it more likely they will withhold part of the rent.

Step 5: Clean and Repair

Before moving out, carefully clean the entire rental property and repair any damage you caused, such as holes in walls or broken fixtures. Leaving the rental in great shape, ready for the next tenant, reduces the reasons a landlord may have to withhold part of your security deposit.

Step 6: Conduct a Move-Out Inspection

Ask your landlord for a move-out inspection, where you can review the state of the apartment as you move out. This can help you establish whether there are any issues the landlord sees as damage. Take photos and video, too. That way, if damage occurs after you move out and before someone else moves in, you have evidence the rental was in good condition when you left it.

Step 7: Request an Itemized Statement

Under Florida law, you can ask for an itemized statement from your landlord detailing any deductions from your security deposit. The statement should include the reasons for the deductions, the amount, and any supporting documentation. If your landlord refuses to provide any information about why they are withholding your deposit, contact a Florida landlord-tenant dispute attorney for advice.

If you do get an itemized statement, carefully review this statement to ensure deductions are reasonable. If you feel they are not or if you feel your landlord is acting in bad faith, you can always contact Flaxman Law Group at 970-999-0530 or contact us online to schedule a no obligation case consultation with a landlord-tenant dispute attorney in our Miami, Homestead, or Hollywood offices.

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