Security deposit amount limits and requirements
In Florida, there is no statutory limit of how much deposit landlords or property managers can collect. Common practice is a one-month security deposit and last month’s rent.
Landlords can request more if the tenant is approved conditionally with a higher deposit. In addition, some landlords ask for pet security deposits. Note that the pet security deposit can only be used for pet damages so it’s better to just increase the overall deposit.
Where should a security deposit be held?
Landlords and property managers must hold the deposit and advanced rent in a separate bank account in a Florida financial institution or post a surety bond with the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where the property is located. No commingling of funds is allowed in those accounts.
Within 30 days of receiving the deposit and advance rent, the landlord has to disclose:
- The name and address of the bank where the deposit is held
- The type of account: interest or non-interest bearing
- The following disclosure must be made
YOUR LEASE REQUIRES PAYMENT OF CERTAIN DEPOSITS. THE LANDLORD MAY TRANSFER ADVANCE RENTS TO THE LANDLORD’S ACCOUNT AS THEY ARE DUE AND WITHOUT NOTICE. WHEN YOU MOVE OUT, YOU MUST GIVE THE LANDLORD YOUR NEW ADDRESS SO THAT THE LANDLORD CAN SEND YOU NOTICES REGARDING YOUR DEPOSIT. THE LANDLORD MUST MAIL YOU NOTICE, WITHIN 30 DAYS AFTER YOU MOVE OUT, OF THE LANDLORD’S INTENT TO IMPOSE A CLAIM AGAINST THE DEPOSIT. IF YOU DO NOT REPLY TO THE LANDLORD STATING YOUR OBJECTION TO THE CLAIM WITHIN 15 DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF THE LANDLORD’S NOTICE, THE LANDLORD WILL COLLECT THE CLAIM AND MUST MAIL YOU THE REMAINING DEPOSIT, IF ANY.
IF THE LANDLORD FAILS TO TIMELY MAIL YOU NOTICE, THE LANDLORD MUST RETURN THE DEPOSIT BUT MAY LATER FILE A LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU FOR DAMAGES. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO A CLAIM, THE LANDLORD MAY COLLECT FROM THE DEPOSIT, BUT YOU MAY LATER FILE A LAWSUIT CLAIMING A REFUND.
YOU SHOULD ATTEMPT TO INFORMALLY RESOLVE ANY DISPUTE BEFORE FILING A LAWSUIT. GENERALLY, THE PARTY IN WHOSE FAVOR A JUDGMENT IS RENDERED WILL BE AWARDED COSTS AND ATTORNEY FEES PAYABLE BY THE LOSING PARTY.
THIS DISCLOSURE IS BASIC. PLEASE REFER TO PART II OF CHAPTER 83, FLORIDA STATUTES, TO DETERMINE YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
It’s best to include this disclosure in the lease.
Deadlines for return of security deposit
In Florida, the timeline for the return of the security deposit depends on whether the landlord or property manager intends to claim part or the entire security deposit.
- No deductions to the Security Deposit will be made
If the landlord doesn’t intend to withhold any money, the security deposit has to be returned to the tenant within 15 days.
- Deductions will be made
If deductions are to be made, the landlord must send a certified letter (Notice of Intention to Impose Claim) to the tenant within 30 days. The letter should state the amount of the deduction and the reasons for it.
The Notice should include this language:
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 tenant has moved without leaving a forwarding address, the letter has to be mailed to the last know address, which could be the rental property.
After the tenant receives the letter, they have 15 days to object to the deduction. If no agreement is reached at this point, the tenant can file with the Small Claim Court.
If the tenant doesn’t object, the landlord should return the security deposit minus the deductions within 30 days of the date of the Notice of Intention to Impose Claim.
If the landlord doesn’t send the Notice of Intention to Impose Claim within 30 days, they lose the right to deduct from the deposit but may file a lawsuit for damages.
In Florida Small Claim Court, the maximum amount you can sue for is $5,000.
What can be deducted from the security deposit
Florida law allows unpaid rent and damages to be deducted from the security deposit.
Unless the property is extraordinarily dirty or the lease requires professional cleaning, no deductions for cleaning can be made. The expectation is to give back the property in a bloom-clean condition.
Normal wear and tear damages cannot be deducted from the security deposit.
What if the tenant owes more than the security deposit amount
In cases where the tenants left the property with a lot of damages or they owe more than the security deposit, the landlord has the right to file a lawsuit for money damages after the tenant leaves. If the tenant leaves and takes the appliances with them, the landlord can file a report with the police for theft.
Preventing disputes and stress over security deposits
In order to avoid stress, lawsuits, and misunderstandings it’s important to create a Move-In and a Move-Out checklist and keep good records.
I even record videos of the condition of the property. In our directory, there are companies that conduct Property Condition Inspections. It’s definitely worth using them especially if you don’t live in the same area as your rental.