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Security Deposits in Florida

1. Amount of Security Deposit

In Florida, there is no state law that limits the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit. It is common practice for landlords to charge the equivalent of one to two months’ rent as a security deposit. However, the specific amount should be stated clearly in the lease agreement.

2. Rules Regarding the Return of a Security Deposit

Florida law provides specific guidelines for the handling and return of security deposits:

  • Holding the Deposit: Landlords must hold the security deposit in a separate, non-interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution, or in an interest-bearing account with the interest payable to the tenant annually and upon termination of the tenancy, or the landlord can post a surety bond with the county clerk’s office.
  • Written Notice: Within 30 days of receiving the security deposit, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant stating the location of the deposit, whether it is held in an interest-bearing account, and the details of the account.

3. Return of the Security Deposit

  • Timeline: Upon termination of the lease, the landlord has 15 days to return the full security deposit if there are no deductions.
  • Deductions Notice: If the landlord intends to make any deductions from the security deposit, they must provide written notice to the tenant within 30 days of the lease termination.

4. Deductions from the Security Deposit

  • Allowed Deductions: Landlords can deduct from the security deposit for unpaid rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, and any other breaches of the lease agreement.
  • Itemized List: The notice of intention to impose a claim on the deposit must include an itemized list of damages and the amount being withheld.

5. Tenant’s Response to Deductions

  • Objection Period: Tenants have 15 days to object in writing to the deductions from the date they receive the landlord’s notice. If the tenant does not object within this period, the landlord can deduct the stated amounts and return the remaining deposit (if any) within 30 days after the notice.

Steps for Handling Security Deposits

  1. Collection: Collect the security deposit and place it in the appropriate account.
  2. Provide Notice: Give written notice to the tenant about the handling of the deposit within 30 days of receipt.
  3. Inspection: Conduct a move-out inspection to assess any damages or unpaid rent.
  4. Provide Itemized Deductions: If there are any deductions, provide an itemized statement to the tenant within 30 days.
  5. Return the Deposit: Return the full deposit within 15 days if there are no deductions, or the remaining amount after deductions within 30 days.

Example of Security Deposit Notice

Here is a sample notice that landlords can use to comply with Florida law:

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

This notice is to inform you that your security deposit of $[amount] has been placed in [account type, e.g., a non-interest-bearing account] at [name of bank] located at [bank address]. The account number is [account number].

If there are any deductions to be made from this deposit upon termination of your tenancy, you will receive an itemized

list of such deductions. If no deductions are made, the deposit will be returned to you in full within 15 days after

the end of the lease term.

[Landlord’s Name]

By following these guidelines, landlords and tenants in Florida can ensure the proper handling and return of security deposits, helping to avoid disputes and ensure compliance with state law.