Are you dealing with an unscrupulous landlord? Protect and enforce your rights...
by St. Petersburg/Florida Family Law Attorney on 07/07/16
The one complaint I hear from tenants that call in looking for legal advice, is the landlord's wrongful withholding of their security deposit. Most landlords hope you don't give them the required notice per Florida Statutes (depending on your tenancy), whereby they will attempt to withhold your deposit. Here are some things you can do to ensure you are not a victim:
1) Approximately 75-90 days before your annual lease ends (year to year), send a letter to the Property manager stating your intent to vacate the property. You can use any downloadable form which applies to your state's laws. (Depending on your relationship with the landlord/property manager, you may want to send it with tracking or certified, in the event this issue becomes contested in court).
2) If you are unable to receive a letter from the property manager or landlord signed, indicating that they have received said letter indicating your intent to move, do not worry, as you already have proof you gave required notice within no less than 60 days of the termination of your lease.
(a)?Upon the vacating of the premises for termination of the lease, if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit, the landlord shall have 15 days to return the security deposit together with interest if otherwise required, or the landlord shall have 30 days to give the tenant written notice by certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address of his or her intention to impose a claim on the deposit and the reason for imposing the claim. The notice shall contain a statement in substantially the following form:
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 landlord fails to give the required notice within the 30-day period, he or she forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit and may not seek a setoff against the deposit but may file an action for damages after return of the deposit.
3) If the landlord does not give the required notice within 30 days of you vacating the property, you are entitled to your FULL security deposit back. There could've been $10,000 worth of damages done to the place, however, the landlord has forfeited their right to impose any claim on your security deposit.
4) Send a courtesy letter (certified), requesting that if the full amount with interest isn't returned, you will seeking suit in small claims court.
5) If the landlord still hasn't complied, hire an attorney, or file suit in small claims court, requesting all costs be reimbursed by the losing party (even attorney's fees).
If you have any questions or concerns regarding landlord tenant law, please contact me for a no-obligation consultation.