Florida Security Deposit Laws

Florida Security Deposit Laws

February 15, 2024, 4:29 am blog-header-image

Landlords have the right to ask for a Florida security deposit. The Florida security deposit basically acts as a financial cushion against any loss that the tenant might be responsible for, such as, causing damage exceeding normal wear and tear, and failing to make rent payments.

Just like many other states, the Florida security deposit law is in place to protect the interest of both parties. Contained therein are rules that every landlord in the state must abide by. The basics of the security deposit laws are as follows:

Maximum Security Deposit

Under Florida security deposit laws, there is no limit on how much security deposit a landlord can ask from their tenant. However, cities and counties may have legislation capping the amount of security deposit a landlord can ask.

As such, be sure to check with the municipality where your property is located.

Additional Pet Deposit

Florida allows landlords to ask for an additional pet deposit. Please note, however, that the same doesn’t apply to renters who have service animals due to a disability. According to the Fair Housing Act, disability is a protected characteristic, and service animals are not classified as pets.

As such, a tenant with a service animal is entitled to equal access to housing. So, by requiring an extra fee because of having a service animal, that would amount to discrimination.

service animals

That said, the tenant with a service animal isn’t exempt from being held liable for any damage their animal causes to the unit.

Security Deposit Holding

Landlords in Florida have three options when it comes to storing their tenants’ security deposits.

The first option landlords have is storing their tenant’s Florida security deposit in a non-interest-bearing account. The financial institution must be located in Florida, and the deposit must not be commingled with other funds.

The second option you have as a landlord is to store your tenant’s security deposit in an interest-bearing account. And just like the first option, the account must be in a Florida banking institution, and the deposit must not be commingled with other funds.

What’s more, a landlord must give or credit to the tenant either 75% of the interest the account earns or pay 5% simple interest per annum on the security deposit amount.

The final option Florida landlords have is to post a security bond. The surety company must be licensed to operate as such by the circuit court’s clerk in the county your unit is located in.

Aside from posting the bond, the landlord must also pay 5% simple annual interest on the deposit amount. The bond should be for the total amount of deposit that the landlord is holding for all the tenants living in your rental unit, or $50,000, whichever is less.

sending written notice of security deposit

Written Notice

Once the landlord has received the security deposit, they’ll have 30 days to choose how to hold the deposit and notify the tenant of the same. That said, the landlord still has the right to predetermine the manner in which they’re going to hold the deposit, as well as the notice period to give in the rental agreement.

There are certain details that the landlord must include in the written notice:

  • Name and address of the institution where they’re holding your tenant’s security deposit.
  • State whether the tenant is entitled to any interest on their security deposit.
  • State whether they’re holding the deposit separately or is commingled with other funds.

The landlord must deliver the written notice either by certified mail or in person. If for whatever reason, they change the location where the deposit is being held, the landlord must again notify the tenant in writing. This should be done within 30 days.

Reasons to Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit

Florida landlords are allowed to make deductions on a tenant’s security deposit for certain reasons under security deposit law. They are as follows:

  • To cover unpaid rent - This can result from either the tenant breaking their lease early in Florida without a justified reason, or simply occurring when a tenant abandons their unit.
  • To cover damage exceeding normal wear and tear - Examples of such damage include a broken toilet seat, a smashed bathroom mirror, and damaged door handles.
  • Charges are allowed to be deducted under the lease agreement - An example of this is an early termination fee.

what security deposits cover

Walk-Through Inspections

Tenants in the state of Florida don’t have a right to a walk-through inspection prior to moving out. However, as a landlord, you may still choose to have your tenant present during the inspection.

Returning Security Deposits in Florida

Under security deposit law, Florida landlords have 15 days to return their tenant’s deposit once the tenant leaves the unit if there are no deductions.

Where there are deductions, the landlord will have 30 days to let them know of the deductions they intend to make. If the landlord fails to notify them within the 30-day period, they’ll forfeit the right to make any deductions to their deposit.

What’s more, wrongfully withholding your tenant’s security deposit can have some financial and legal ramifications. Among other things, the landlord may be liable to pay the tenant the withheld deposit amount, plus costs of the suit and reasonable attorney fees.

Sale of Rental Property

If the property’s ownership changes, the landlord must transfer the security deposit and any interest accrued to the incoming owner. The landlord must also create a written receipt indicating the amount that they transferred to the new owner.

Once the landlord does this, they’ll be relieved of the responsibilities for holding the tenant’s security deposit.

taxes on a security deposit

Taxation on Security Deposits

In Florida, security deposits aren’t taxable until they become the property of the landlord. And, this can happen when the deposit is applied towards rent payment, is forfeited, or is applied to other charges allowed under the lease agreement.

Summary

As a landlord in Florida, it’s important that you know and understand your rights and responsibilities under landlord-tenant laws. The landlord must ensure that they follow all florida security deposit laws and leasing laws. If issues arise, the landlord must also be sure to follow the proper legal eviction process in Florida.

If you are a landlord and would like help keeping track of your legal responsibilities or managing your rentals reach out to a trusted property management company. The team at Suncastle Properties will gladly assist you! Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a licensed attorney. Laws change frequently and this post may not be updated at the time you read it. If you have a specific question, kindly reach out to a legal expert for help.

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