What Is A Security Deposit?
When you rent your first apartment, you may think you’ll just need enough money for the first month of rent. Well, be warned that landlords often expect much more than that. In most cases, you’ll also have to pay a security deposit.
A security deposit acts as insurance for the landlord. Also known by names such as “last month’s rent,” “damage deposit,” or “pet deposit,” a security deposit protects landlords in the event that a tenant breaches their rental agreement. Tenants must pay this deposit in advance, before they move in. If they fail to do so, they may not be able to secure the rental.
The landlord saves this money in case there are issues with the rental situation. The good news is that when you move out and everything is in order, you get the deposit back. So it is refundable as long as you keep up your end of the rental agreement. If you trash the place or don’t put it back in the condition you rented it, all bets are off and the landlord is legally allowed to keep the security deposit.
Some states have limits to the amount of the deposit. For example, it could range from one months’ rent to two months’ rent, depending on whether or not the apartment is furnished or if the tenant has a pet. Florida, however, does not have a limit, so in addition to a month of rent, you may need to have several thousand more dollars before you can even move in.
A landlord can use your security deposit for a variety of reasons, including:
- Paying for cleaning fees when you move out
- Pay for any damage you caused to the rental
- Pay for any utility bills that you may skip out on
- Pay the rent if you become unable to do so
What Happens When I Move Out?
If you are expecting to get our security deposit back, Florida law allows for 15 to 60 days once you move out. It is possible that you may not get your entire deposit back, especially if you did not clean thoroughly. However, if there are no glaring issues, then you should get most of your deposit back.
If your landlord seems to be delaying things, write a demand letter, which is a formal argument on why your security deposit should be returned. You may be able to compromise with this route. But if your landlord refuses to negotiate and there is a lot of money at stake, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit.
Seek Legal Help
While a security deposit is often needed to rent a home, landlords may take advantage of this and charge exorbitant fees or refuse to give back this deposit. As a tenant, you need to understand your legal rights.
Fort Lauderdale security deposit lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can help landlords and tenants with issues involving security deposits. Fill out the online form or call 954-764-4330 to schedule a consultation.