Many times, landlords claim that they want to keep their former tenant’s security deposit to pay for the damages caused by the tenant, and to have more cash available to turn the unit over. However, if you don’t follow the right steps or you keep the security deposit unlawfully, you could have a legal battle, and the landlord security deposit will become quite complicated. There are a few key steps to follow when you’re planning to keep all or some of a tenant’s security deposit.
Security Deposit LetterYou must include a letter that uses the exact verbiage found in Florida Statute 83.49. This must be included in the letter, and it must be written exactly as the statute reads. This is the law, and you cannot send a partial security deposit back to the tenant without this language.
Communicate the DamagesIt’s also important to include an itemized invoice that reflects everything that was charged to the tenant. This way, the tenant can see how much they are paying for each item, and what the claims against the security deposit are. We include pictures as well. If a tenant moves out and the unit is dirty or furniture is left behind and we need to move the furniture, we take pictures of all the items that we are claiming so they can see why we are making those claims.
Follow the TimeframesThe most important step is to be timely. You must mail the security deposit and correspondence within 30 days of a tenant leaving. A lot of landlords fail to pay attention to this deadline, especially if the tenant was evicted. But the security deposit letter is still required, even after an eviction. If you don’t provide the letter within the timeframe, your tenants can take legal action against you. They may have the right to get their deposit back. So, send it within 30 days to the last known address you have for the tenant. Make sure you send it certified mail.
If you have any questions about the steps involved in security deposit returns, or anything pertaining to property management in Fort Lauderdale, please contact us at Gibson Group Management.