Friday, April 5, 2013

Landlord Tenant & Security Deposit in FL~

FL Landlord & Tenant Law:  Security Deposits 
FL Statutes clearly define laws regarding the return of your security deposit! 

Whether you are a tenant, landlord, or property manager, it is imperative that you know the strict laws regarding security deposits in the state of Florida.

FL Landlord Tenant act regulates security deposits
FL Statutes regulates Landlord and Tenant Law~
As a landlord, you must follow several rules when holding and returning your tenants' security deposit.  If you do not follow the law exactly, you could make a very costly mistake. As a tenant who hands over your security deposit to a landlord, you should also know the laws regarding security deposits to keep yourself protected. 

As a landlord, you must be hold your tenant's deposit (or advanced rent) in accordance with certain rules including:
  • The security deposit must be held in a separate non-interest bearing account in FL. 
  • You could choose to hold the deposit in non-interest bearing account in FL and compute and share a percentage of the interest with the tenant or to post a surety bond in the amount of the tenants security  deposit. (Because the interest is hard to calculate and regulate, most landlords choose a non-interest bearing account as opposed to this alternative.) 
  • Landlord must notify the tenant in writing within 30 days of receipt of deposit to a number of items including the name and location of the security deposit and must include specific words and phrases from FL statutes in the notice to the tenant.
As a landlord, when your renter moves, you must disperse your tenants security deposit in accordance with Florida Landlord and Tenant Statutes. 
  • Landlord must refund the security deposit within 15 days if there are no charges to the deposit.
  • If there are any claims to the deposit, landlord has 30 days to mail the intent to impose a security deposit claim form.  This form should be mailed, certified mail, to the forwarding address given or to the former property address. 
  • Landlord must include certain words and phrases from FL statutes on this security deposit claim notice to the tenant informing them of their option to dispute the security deposit claim. 
  • As a landlord, if you fail to send the proper notices within the 30 day time frame, you forfeit the right to charge any claims against your tenants security deposit! Many landlords are unaware of this and make a very costly mistake.  
As a Tenant, you should be aware of the landlords responsibilities, as well as your responsibilities and rights under the law:
  • Once you pay your security deposit, it is nonrefundable should you decide not to lease the home. Be sure you are ready to sign a lease when paying your security deposit.
  • Always have your lease agreement in writing.  Do not give someone money and only have an oral agreement.
  • Landlord / Tenant law requires that you make notices to the landlord in writing! Make sure to keep copies of all correspondence including your move out notice. 
  • When you move in, and when you move out, document the property condition with date-stamped photos, video, and keep all receipts. 
  • You have the right to dispute your deposit.  If you feel an error has been made in calculating your deposit, respond to your landlord in writing in accordance to FL law. Include your written and photo documentation. FL law requires this is done within 15 days of receipt of your deposit claim form. 
  • If you honestly feel you have been taken advantage of, and have proper documentation to prove your case, you can contact the FL Landlord Tenant Division and file a complaint. Call them at 1-800-435-7352. 
  • If you are one of our clients, one of our brokers or I would be happy to sit down and speak with you personally about your refund! 
  • The best way to ensure you are treated fairly is to properly document the homes condition throughout your tenancy and communicate this with your landlord.
I'll go ahead and make a few disclaimers.
1) I am not an attorney and do not represent my knowledge to be construed as so. 
2) It's important to know that state law regulates these items and the regulations very drastically from state to state.
3) As a single property owner, some of these statutes do not apply to you if you lease less than 5 units. 
4) As real estate agents, we are also subject to FREC, DBPR, and the FL Division of Real Estate which also dictates regulations regarding your security deposit.  For example, they require we immediately turn over all checks to our broker and that these deposits are placed into bank accounts within 3 days.
5) This is just a summary! There are plenty of statutes. Please make sure to read them all or hire a professional.
6) I found all of the information I used for this article from the FL Division of Consumer Services website and the 2011 Florida Statutes. Of course, consult your lease agreement as well. 

Do you need a Pensacola area, professional Property Manager? 
Realty Masters is the largest property management company in Escambia & Santa Rosa Counties in Northwest Florida.  Give our broker Pam Keen Brantley a call at (850) 473-3983 or email her Pam@PensacolaRealtyMasters.com with your Pensacola Property Management questions.

For more information, please call the Landlord Tenant line at 1-800-435-7352, visit the FL Division of Consumer Services website or consult your attorney. There are plenty of statutes, so make sure to read them all. 

Have any questions for us? Email me Nicoles@PensacolaRealtyMasters.com or give us a call at 850-473-3983.

Thanks and have a great day,
Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Property Management
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
Call us at (850) 473-3983
Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at 
www.PensacolaRealtyMasters.com
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