In Florida, certain statutory requirements apply when making deductions or returning a residential tenant’s security deposit. Florida Statutes Chapter 83, Part II, governs residential tenancies and contains the following specific requirements.

Returning the Security Deposit or Providing Notice of Intent to Deduct

Once a lease ends and the tenant vacates the premises, the landlord must return the security deposit (with interest if applicable) either: (i) within 15 days if the landlord is not making deductions; or (ii) give notice within 30 days if the landlord is making deductions. The notice must: (i) be mailed by certified mail to the tenant’s last known address; (ii) include the reason for the claim; and (iii) include a statement in substantially the same form as stated in Florida Statutes Section 83.49, currently as follows:

This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of [insert amount] upon your security deposit, due to [insert reason for claim]. 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 [insert landlord’s address].

If the landlord fails to provide the required notice described above, he or she may not make a deduction from the security deposit but instead can only file a lawsuit for damages after returning the security deposit.

When the tenant vacates (or abandons) the premises, the tenant must provide at least 7 days’ written notice by certified mail or personal delivery that includes the tenant’s new contact address, unless the lease states otherwise. If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord does not have to provide the above-described notice; however, the tenant is still entitled to the remaining security deposit, if any.

Making Deductions

Once the notice is sent and received by the tenant, the tenant has 15 days to object to the landlord’s claim or the amount of the claim. If the tenant does not object, the landlord can then deduct his or her claim and return the balance, if any, to the tenant within 30 days after the date of the original notice to impose a claim. Due to the timing requirements, best practices would be to return the balance as soon as the 15 days has passed from tenant’s receipt of the notice and tenant has not objected. If the tenant fails to object, the tenant can still file a separate lawsuit for damages.

Implement Procedures to Follow Applicable Law

Residential landlords in Florida should implement a procedure to follow these statutory requirements for returning and making deductions from security deposits. Although it may take a little more time, it can avoid complications down the road. Review the current version of Florida Statutes Chapter 83, which is amended from time to time, and consult with an attorney to ensure you are following the most up to date requirements of the statute and all legal requirements that apply to your situation, which may vary depending upon the circumstances.

This blog post is for general information and education purposes only. It is not offered as legal advice or legal opinion. To the extent this message contains tax advice, the U.S. Treasury Department requires us to inform you that any advice in this article is not intended or written by our firm to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Advice from our firm relating to Federal tax matters may not be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer.

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