Unfortunately, too many people pay rent on time, respect their neighbors, and take great care of their home only find out they will not be receiving a dime of their initial security deposit. It goes without saying that some landlords are better than others, but what can you do if you believe you are being taken advantage of?
Protect Your Deposit Before You Move In
When you do the initial walkthrough, take detailed notes. Any imperfections should be listed so you are not blamed for them when you move out. Most move-in paperwork will include space to list any damage, odors, and other observations made before you move in. Make sure you are following any rules regarding pets such as: telling them you have one. If you do not tell them, forfeiture of your security deposit is a real possibility.
Do You Deserve an Explanation for Deductions?
In the state of Florida, a landlord must return your security deposit (or what is left of it) 15 – 60 days after you move out. In addition, any deductions from your initial deposit must be itemized. Typical itemizations include owed rent, payment to remove items placed by you (tv mounts, blinds, etc.), payment(s) to repair damage to the premises, money owed for utilities, and more. It is easy to convince yourself that you deserve the initial deposit but take some time to consider the landlord’s charges.
You Believe You Are Entitled to Your Deposit, Now what?
First, try to handle the situation outside of court. You should write a demand letter (see Florida demand letter template). Be as specific as possible regarding why you believe you deserve any or all of your deposit. Including:
- How much you would like and when you expect payment.
- Why you believe you are owed this money.
- Incorporate any relevant language from the lease agreement or any other documents pertaining to your landlord-tenant agreement.
Let the landlord know you plan to sue in small claims court if they do not meet your demands. You should also cite any relevant Florida State law.
If you pursue a lawsuit against the landlord, you are within your rights to do so without an attorney in most cases. However, Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group has the experience and knowledge of Florida law you need to get your money back.