We get asked this question a lot. He is the answer I usually give:
In order for a landlord to be entitled to make a claim on any portion of your security deposit two things need to happen: 1) your lease must provide for the security deposit being used for the purpose it is being used for and 2) the landlord must provide the proper notice under Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. Section 83.49(3)(a) states: Upon the vacating of the premises for termination of the lease, if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit, the landlord shall have 15 days to return the security deposit together with interest if otherwise required, or the landlord shall have 30 days to give the tenant written notice by certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address of his or her intention to impose a claim on the deposit and the reason for imposing the claim. The notice shall contain a statement in substantially the following form:
This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of upon your security deposit, due to . It is sent to you as required by s. 83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit within 15 days from the time you receive this notice or I will be authorized to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent to (landlord’s address). If the landlord fails to give the required notice within the 30-day period, he or she forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit.
If the landlord does not voluntarily return your full security deposit, whether through communication with you or your attorney, you will need to sue them for it. You are entitled to prevailing party attorney's fees in that suit. However, if you sue them, be prepared for a countersuit for damage to the property if there is any. That's because the landlord is still entitled to go after you for damages to the property even though he/she may have waived their rights to the deposit itself.
One last thing you need to be aware of, Section 83(5) states: Except when otherwise provided by the terms of a written lease, any tenant who vacates or abandons the premises prior to the expiration of the term specified in the written lease, or any tenant who vacates or abandons premises which are the subject of a tenancy from week to week, month to month, quarter to quarter, or year to year, shall give at least 7 days’ written notice by certified mail or personal delivery to the landlord prior to vacating or abandoning the premises which notice shall include the address where the tenant may be reached. Failure to give such notice shall relieve the landlord of the notice requirement of paragraph (3)(a) but shall not waive any right the tenant may have to the security deposit or any part of it.
At the Morey Law Firm, P.A., we can help you determine your rights to your security deposit. If you live in Orlando or the surrounding area, call (407)-426-7222 to set up your free consultation today!