Fort Lauderdale Security Deposit Lawyer
Security deposits protect landlords in case tenants breach their lease or rental agreement. It is a financial deposit made in advance of a tenant moving in to protect against damage to the property once they do move in. You may hear it called “last month’s rent,” a “pet deposit,” or “damage deposit.” No matter whether you’re a tenant or landlord, you can take steps to protect yourself. To learn more, contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale security deposit lawyer at Edward J Jennings, P.A., today.
What Can Security Deposits Be Used For?
As a landlord, there are several things you can use a tenant’s security deposit for. These include:
- Cover the costs in cleaning fees you incur when the tenant moves out;
- Act as a buffer for any unpaid utilities when the tenant leaves and doesn’t pay their final bills;
- Minimize any loss in rental profits;
- Reduce the loss in rental payments if the tenant cannot meet the monthly rent; and
- Pay for any property damage the tenant leaves when moving out.
Security Deposit Laws in Florida
There are some laws to familiarize yourself with in Florida when it comes to security deposits. For example, some states may have a maximum deposit amount you can collect. However, there is no limit in Florida. That means you could, in theory, ask for one or even three months’ rent. However, the higher amount you ask for, the smaller your tenant pool will be.
As a landlord, you should be securing a tenant’s deposit, which can be done in multiple ones. One of these is through a non-interest-bearing account. You could also choose an interest-bearing account before you return their deposit.
Florida law requires that landlords notify the tenant with a written notice that they received the security deposit. It must be delivered to the tenant within 30 days and must include specific details:
- Bank name and location where you keep the deposit;
- Information on whether the deposit is combined with other funds or not; and
- What the interest rate is and whether the deposit will be stored in an interest-bearing or non-interest-bearing account.
As a landlord, you must inform the tenant of any changes governing the security deposit terms or if you move the funds within 30 days.
Protecting Your Security Deposit as a Tenant
If you are a tenant and are asked to give money for a security deposit, you need to protect yourself. To start, have a clear understanding of what the security deposit is and the terms. You should also take photos of the rental when you move in and document the condition. You can create a worksheet that you ask the landlord to sign off on as well. You should do the same when moving out and ask for a move-out inspection.
Find out what the deductions are on your security deposit and what they are being used for. The landlord should provide you with a detailed statement of what they deducted and why. Landlords have the right to deduct part of your deposit to cover things beyond normal wear and tear and/or any unpaid rent.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Attorney
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord who needs assistance with a security deposit, a qualified Fort Lauderdale real estate lawyer can help. Contact Edward J. Jennings, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.