What Does Florida Law Say About When Can Landlords Withhold Part of the Security Deposit
Landlords in Florida can collect a security deposit from tenants to protect their investment. Even if a renter is carefully vetted, they can still cause losses due to property damage and non-payment of rent. A security deposit for your rental in Hollywood, Homestead, or any Florida community can be used to cover these losses.
If, like many landlords, you find yourself facing losses because of a tenant's actions or you are in a dispute with a renter, call Flaxman Law Group at 970-999-0530, contact us online, or email attorney Charles Flaxman directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can schedule a free consultation with a Florida landlord-tenant attorney to review your options. Our attorneys work in our offices in Hollywood, Homestead, and Miami, so we can serve the entire South Florida community.Understanding Your Rights and Duties as a Landlord
Florida doesn't limit how much you can ask for a security deposit, but state laws do require you to return the security deposit within 15-60 days of the renter moving out, depending on what kind of rental agreement you have.
You cannot withhold part of a deposit for normal wear and tear, such as minor scuff marks or fading paint. However, you can charge for major damage and losses, including:
- Pet damage
- Holes in the walls
- Burn marks
- Serious stains
- Missing or damaged appliances
- Non-payment of rent
- Unsanitary or unclean rentals that require excessive cleaning after the renter moves out
- Broken windows and doors
- Damaged or missing furniture that was included with the rental
- Unauthorized changes to a rental, such as converting a washroom into a bedroom
- Failure to meet specific requirements in the lease agreement, such as payment of utilities.
If you withhold part of a security deposit, you need to submit a written notice to the tenant within 30 days of them moving out. If you fail to do so, you'll lose out on the chance to recover part of the security deposit and you may need to pay losses out of pocket.Prevent Landlord-Tenant Disputes in Florida
Security deposits are a common point of contention between tenants and landlords in Homestead, Hollywood, and across Florida. Often, a landlord will allege damages and a tenant will claim the damages are normal wear and tear or existed before they moved in.
To protect your rights as a landlord, you will want to do the following to reduce the chances of a dispute:
- Vet tenants carefully.
- Conduct move-in and move-out inspections with your tenants, so you can both sign a document showing you agree about the state of the rental.
- Take photographs or videos of each part of the rental before and after tenants move in, so you have evidence of the condition of the property.
- Keep copies of any written communication you have with your renter and keep careful records of when rent was paid and how much was paid.
- If renters report damage or issues during their tenancy, promptly have it repaired.
- Fill out an inventory checklist, outlining what is in the apartment when the renter moves in, and have the tenant sign it.
- Get accurate estimates from a few contractors if there are damages, so you have evidence of how much repairs will cost.
Under Florida law, you have the right as a landlord to ask for a security deposit from tenants before they move in. You also have the right to withhold part or some of the deposit to cover non-payment of rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, excessive cleaning, and non-payment of utilities.
While you might be able to resolve this issue with your renter yourself, there are a few situations where you might want to contact a Florida landlord-tenant dispute attorney:
- You and your tenant can't agree about what is reasonable to withhold
- Your tenant retains their own attorney
- The damages or losses are extensive and may require the entire damage deposit or even more to cover
- The renter may have been involved in illegal activity and may have caused significant losses
- You aren't sure of your rights and need help understanding Florida rental laws and your options
If any of these are true for you, call Flaxman Law Group at 970-999-0530 or contact us online, and we can schedule a free consultation with a Florida landlord-tenant attorney. Our team has more than 60 years of experience and our offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood have successfully worked with many landlords and investors in challenging situations.