What Should I Do If My Florida Landlord Withholds or Refuses to Return My Security Deposit
If your Florida landlord withholds or refuses to return your security deposit, it can deprive you of money you need for your move. You've supplied your security deposit in good faith, and you deserve to have it back unless there are compelling reasons for your landlord to withhold it.
At Flaxman Law Group, we see disagreements between landlords and tenants in Miami, Hollywood, Coral Gables, and many other communities. Often, these disputes are over security deposits and we've put together this guide to help you understand your options. If you are having trouble getting your security deposit back, you can also contact Flaxman Law Group at 970-999-0530 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a Florida landlord-tenant dispute attorney. Our offices are open in Miami, Hollywood, and Homestead to serve Coral Gables and all communities across Southern Florida.Understand Your Lease Agreement
Look over the lease agreement you signed in when you moved into the rental. It should specify the conditions under which the landlord can withhold or retain the deposit. This can help you understand whether your landlord is acting unreasonably.Know Your Rights
In Florida, landlords can withhold a security deposit for valid reasons, such as unpaid rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, or cleaning costs beyond what is considered reasonable.
You have the right to ask your landlord for a detailed explanation for withholding your deposit and an itemized list of deductions. This can help you understand whether your landlord has a valid reason for withholding part of your security deposit.Know What Legal Options You Have
If you disagree with why your landlord about why they are withholding your security deposit, you can send a letter, outlining why you believe you are owed your security deposit.
If this does not result in a resolution, you have the option of sending a formal demand letter, clearly stating your position, referencing the lease agreement, and any evidence you have to support your claim. Set a reasonable deadline for the return of your deposit.
Should you still not get a security deposit back, you can explore mediation or arbitration as solutions. In mediation a neutral third party leads discussions to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable solution. Arbitration involves a neutral arbitrator who listens to both sides and makes a binding decision.File a Lawsuit in Small Claims Court
No one wants to go to court but if you have exhausted your options you may be able to file a lawsuit in small claims court in Miami, Hollywood, Coral Gables, or your community. Before proceeding, gather all relevant evidence, including your lease agreement, communication records, photographs of the property's condition, and receipts. You can work with an attorney or present the case yourself.
Seek Legal Advice
If you need assistance navigating Florida's landlord-tenant laws, consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney focused on landlord-tenant disputes may be able to offer guidance, help you understand your rights, and represent your interests as you seek to recover your losses.
If you need an attorney in Florida, we invite you to call Flaxman Law Group at 970-999-0530 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a Florida landlord-tenant dispute attorney. Our offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood serve tenants across all of Southern Florida and our caring team is here to help.