Many people purchase property with the intention of renting it out and producing income from their investment.
From my experience with clients over the years, however, I know that the majority of new landlords are not aware of the laws governing their handling of a security deposit that they have received from their tenants.
According to Florida Law, a landlord who accepts a security deposit or advance rent, (other than for the next month’s rent), from a tenant must either deposit these funds in separate non-interest bearing or interest bearing account, or post a surety bond with that jurisdiction’s Clerk of Court. If the funds are deposited into an interest bearing account, the tenant has the right to collect at least 75% of the annualized average interest rate or to collect 5% per year simple interest, whichever the landlord chooses. If the landlord has deposited these funds into an account, they may not, under any circumstances, be commingled with other funds or used by the landlord until such a time that they are actually due to the landlord.
Within 30 days of receiving these funds from the tenant, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant informing them of the name and address of the bank that holds the deposited funds, or informing them that a surety bond has been posted. This notice must also include a specific disclosure mandated by Florida Statute.
When the lease has ended and the tenant has vacated the property, the landlord has 15 days to return the security deposit to the tenant if the landlord does not intent to make a claim on any of the security deposit funds. If the landlord does intend to impose a claim on the security deposit, they must send notice to the tenant by certified mail within 30 days informing them of the intent to make a claim on the deposit and for what reason the claim is being made. This notice must include the exact language found in the Section 83.49(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes. If this notice is not given within the 30 days, the landlord forfeits the right to make a claim on the deposit.
Don Gonzalez, Esq.