As a landlord in Florida, you obtain certain rights, and so does your tenant. It’s important that both landlords and tenants are very familiar with the laws that pertain to owning and renting property. The rights of both the landlord and tenant are protected under the landlord-tenant law.

As a landlord, you must follow these rules to the letter. The following are the basic security deposit rules in the state of Florida, barring eviction.

Security Deposit Limit

The state of Florida doesn’t limit how much security deposit a landlord can charge a tenant. Landlords can charge whatever amount of deposit they want. But while there is no limit, landlords typically charge the equivalent of between 1 and 2 months’ rent as a security deposit.

As a landlord, overcharging tenants will only make your rental property less desirable. Charging the equivalent of 1 or 2 months’ rent will usually be enough to cover you against potential financial damage.

Storing Security Deposit

You must store your tenant’s security deposit in either of three ways. The first option is to store it in a non-interest-bearing account. You must not commingle the funds with other funds or use them before they are actually due to you.

The second option is to store the deposit in an interest-bearing account. The bank must be in the state of Florida and must pay the tenant any interest accrued annually and at the end of the lease term.

person holding security deposit money

You can pay the interest to the tenant either directly or credit it back to the tenant in the form of rent. And just like in the first option, you must not mix it with other funds or use it before it’s actually due to you. You’ll have no obligation to pay the tenant any interest should they break their lease.

Last but not the least, you can store their security deposit in the form of a surety bond. The bond must be for the amount of security deposit, or $50,000, whichever is less. You must post the bond in the county where your property is situated. You must also pay a 5% interest to the tenant on an annual basis.

Written Notice after Receipt of Tenant’s Security Deposit

As a landlord in Florida, you’re required to notify your tenant after receipt of their security deposit. And you must do this within 30 days of receiving the security deposit. In the notice, you must include the following information.
Name and address of the financial institution holding the tenant’s security deposit.

The manner in which you’re storing the tenant’s security deposit. That is, whether you are keeping them separate or are commingling them with other funds.

The rate of interest at which the funds are being held if kept in an interest-bearing account. Next, you must deliver the notice either in person or by mail.

mailing envelope

If you change the location or the terms at which you’re holding the tenant’s deposit, you must again notify the tenant within 30 days. The notice must be in writing.

Allowable Reasons for Security Deposit Deduction in Florida

As a landlord, you can withhold your tenant’s security deposit for certain legally allowed reasons. In the state of Florida, you can withhold your tenant’s security deposit for any of the following reasons.

  • To cover unpaid rent payments. A tenant is obligated by a lease to pay rent for the entire time they will be living there. If they move out with any rent due, you have a right to make deductions on their security deposit.
  • To cover damage in excess of normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear is the expected damage that occurs due to normal use. While a tenant isn’t liable for fixing these, you can hold them accountable for excessive property damage. Examples include missing fixtures, holes in the wall, torn carpets, and broken tiles or windows.
  • Other violations of the lease agreement.

Walk Through Inspection

Landlords perform walk-through inspections to assess whether the tenant has left the property in the condition they found it in, less normal wear and tear. In case of excessive damage, the tenant gets an opportunity to fix the issues before moving out.

person doing property inspection

Returning a Tenant’s Security Deposit

If returning the deposit in full, you must send it to the tenant within 15 days of lease termination. You must also send it along with the accrued interest within the same period.

If you’re going to make deductions, then you’ll have 30 days to notify the tenant of your intention to withhold their deposit. If you fail to do so, you automatically forfeit your right to keep any portion of the deposit.

The notice must state your reason for withholding a portion of the tenant’s security deposit. It must also inform the tenant that they have 15 days from receipt of the notice to contest it. The contest (if any) must be in writing, as well.

Once the notice contains all the aforementioned information, you must send it via certified mail. It’s the tenant’s responsibility to provide you with a forwarding address. If they don’t, you’ll be under no obligation to provide the tenant with a written notice of the security deposit.

If the tenant doesn’t contest the deduction on their deposit, you must send the remainder within 30 days of the initial written notice. But if the opposite is true, then the matter could go before a court of law. The losing party will then be liable for paying the winner the court-awarded sum, plus attorney fees and court costs.

Bottom Line

There you have it – a basic overview of the Florida security deposit laws. If you have a question or need expert help in managing your rental property, Keyrenter Tampa can help. Keyrenter Tampa is a trusted property management company in Tampa, Florida. We can help you reduce stress and maximize your rental income. Get in touch today!

This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.