What to do when your landlord won’t return your security deposit?

by John Morey | Feb 04, 2017

Probably one of the most common issues that a tenant encounters when dealing with their landlord involves the return or refund of their security deposit. Most landlords will require that the tenant provide them with a security deposit at the beginning of the lease to cover any damage to the rental property. It is important to note that the security deposit can sometimes be applied toward damages (beyond normal wear and tear), unpaid rent, or other items that may be provided for in the lease agreement. Most of the issues that tenants encounter regarding their security deposit have to do with a dispute between the tenant and landlord as to what damages should be deducted from the deposit or the landlord failing to return the deposit all together.

Florida law requires that the landlord return the full security deposit within 15 days of the date the tenant vacates, or provide the tenant with notice of their intent to impose a claim within 30 days of the date the tenant vacates the rental property. It is important to note that the “notice of intent to impose claim” must be sent to the tenant via certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address. A landlord’s failure to provide the notice as required forfeits their ability to impose a claim on the deposit. In the event the landlord does not provide proper notice, they must then return the deposit, but can still sue for any damages to the property.

Often times we receive calls from tenants whose former landlord did not comply with Florida law when making a claim against the deposit. If that is the case we usually suggest sending the landlord a demand letter in an attempt to resolve the situation without having to file a lawsuit. Our demand letter notifies the landlord that they have a set amount of time to return the security deposit and if they fail to comply they may face a lawsuit to recover the deposit.

Generally speaking, Florida law and most leases allow for the successful party in a landlord-tenant dispute to recover the attorney’s fees spent in litigating a dispute over the security deposit. These provisions often allow our landlord-tenant attorneys to take these types of cases at little to no cost to the tenant.

If you are in a dispute with your former landlord regarding a security deposit call our experienced landlord-tenant attorneys today. We provide a free case review to let you know if we are able to assist. Complete a case review form online or call us at (407) 426-7222 to speak with an eviction attorney today.