What can I do to collect my security deposit from my previous landlord?
You should carefully read your lease agreement to determine your rights and obligations regarding your security deposit and rent payments.
The relevant Florida statutes are as follows:
83.44 Obligation of good faith. —
Every rental agreement or duty within this part imposes an obligation of
good faith in its performance or enforcement.
83.46 Rent; duration of tenancies. —
(1) Unless otherwise agreed, rent is payable without demand or notice;
periodic rent is payable at the beginning of each rent payment period; and
rent is uniformly apportionable from day to day.
(2) If the rental agreement contains no provision as to duration of the
tenancy, the duration is determined by the periods for which the rent is
payable. If the rent is payable weekly, then the tenancy is from week to
week; if payable monthly, tenancy is from month to month; if payable
quarterly, tenancy is from quarter to quarter; if payable yearly, tenancy
is from year to year.
(3) If the dwelling unit is furnished without rent as an incident of
employment and there is no agreement as to the duration of the tenancy, the
duration is determined by the periods for which wages are payable. If wages
are payable weekly or more frequently, then the tenancy is from week to
week; and if wages are payable monthly or no wages are payable, then the
tenancy is from month to month. In the event that the employee ceases
employment, the employer shall be entitled to rent for the period from the
day after the employee ceases employment until the day that the dwelling
unit is vacated at a rate equivalent to the rate charged for similarly
situated residences in the area. This subsection shall not apply to an
employee or a resident manager of an apartment house or an apartment
complex when there is a written agreement to the contrary.
83.49 Deposit money or advance rent; duty of landlord and tenant. —
(1) Whenever money is deposited or advanced by a tenant on a rental
agreement as security for performance of the rental agreement or as advance
rent for other than the next immediate rental period, the landlord or the
landlord's agent shall either:
(a) Hold the total amount of such money in a separate
non-interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution for the
benefit of the tenant or tenants. The landlord shall not commingle such
moneys with any other funds of the landlord or hypothecate, pledge, or in
any other way make use of such moneys until such moneys are actually due
(b) Hold the total amount of such money in a separate interest-bearing
account in a Florida banking institution for the benefit of the tenant or
tenants, in which case the tenant shall receive and collect interest in an
amount of at least 75 percent of the annualized average interest rate
payable on such account or interest at the rate of 5 percent per year,
simple interest, whichever the landlord elects. The landlord shall not
commingle such moneys with any other funds of the landlord or hypothecate,
pledge, or in any other way make use of such moneys until such moneys are
actually due the landlord; or
(c) Post a surety bond, executed by the landlord as principal and a
surety company authorized and licensed to do business in the state as
surety, with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which the
dwelling unit is located in the total amount of the security deposits and
advance rent he or she holds on behalf of the tenants or $50,000, whichever
is less. The bond shall be conditioned upon the faithful compliance of the
landlord with the provisions of this section and shall run to the Governor
for the benefit of any tenant injured by the landlord's violation of the
provisions of this section. In addition to posting the surety bond, the
landlord shall pay to the tenant interest at the rate of 5 percent per
year, simple interest. A landlord, or the landlord's agent, engaged in the
renting of dwelling units in five or more counties, who holds deposit
moneys or advance rent and who is otherwise subject to the provisions of
this section, may, in lieu of posting a surety bond in each county, elect
to post a surety bond in the form and manner provided in this paragraph
with the office of the Secretary of State. The bond shall be in the total
amount of the security deposit or advance rent held on behalf of tenants or
in the amount of $250,000, whichever is less. The bond shall be conditioned
upon the faithful compliance of the landlord with the provisions of this
section and shall run to the Governor for the benefit of any tenant injured
by the landlord's violation of this section. In addition to posting a
surety bond, the landlord shall pay to the tenant interest on the security
deposit or advance rent held on behalf of that tenant at the rate of 5
percent per year simple interest.
(2) The landlord shall, within 30 days of receipt of advance rent or a
security deposit, notify the tenant in writing of the manner in which the
landlord is holding the advance rent or security deposit and the rate of
interest, if any, which the tenant is to receive and the time of interest
payments to the tenant. Such written notice shall:
(a) Be given in person or by mail to the tenant.
(b) State the name and address of the depository where the advance rent
or security deposit is being held, whether the advance rent or security
deposit is being held in a separate account for the benefit of the tenant
or is commingled with other funds of the landlord, and, if commingled,
whether such funds are deposited in an interest-bearing account in a
Florida banking institution.
(c) Include a copy of the provisions of subsection (3).
Subsequent to providing such notice, if the landlord changes the manner
or location in which he or she is holding the advance rent or security
deposit, he or she shall notify the tenant within 30 days of the change
according to the provisions herein set forth. This subsection does not
apply to any landlord who rents fewer than five individual dwelling
units. Failure to provide this notice shall not be a defense to the
payment of rent when due.
(3)(a) Upon the vacating of the premises for termination of the lease, if
the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit, the
landlord shall have 15 days to return the security deposit together with
interest if otherwise required, or the landlord shall have 30 days to give
the tenant written notice by certified mail to the tenant's last known
mailing address of his or her intention to impose a claim on the deposit
and the reason for imposing the claim. The notice shall contain a statement
in substantially the following form:
This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the
amount of __________ upon your security deposit, due to __________. It is
sent to you as required by s. 83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified
that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit
within 15 days from the time you receive this notice or I will be authorized
to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent
to (landlord's address).
If the landlord fails to give the required notice within the 30-day
period, he or she forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the security
(b) Unless the tenant objects to the imposition of the landlord's claim
or the amount thereof within 15 days after receipt of the landlord's notice
of intention to impose a claim, the landlord may then deduct the amount of
his or her claim and shall remit the balance of the deposit to the tenant
within 30 days after the date of the notice of intention to impose a claim
(c) If either party institutes an action in a court of competent
jurisdiction to adjudicate the party's right to the security deposit, the
prevailing party is entitled to receive his or her court costs plus a
reasonable fee for his or her attorney. The court shall advance the cause
on the calendar.
(d) Compliance with this section by an individual or business entity
authorized to conduct business in this state, including Florida-licensed
real estate brokers and sales associates, shall constitute compliance with
all other relevant Florida Statutes pertaining to security deposits held
pursuant to a rental agreement or other landlord-tenant relationship.
Enforcement personnel shall look solely to this section to determine
compliance. This section prevails over any conflicting provisions in
chapter 475 and in other sections of the Florida Statutes, and shall
operate to permit licensed real estate brokers to disburse security
deposits and deposit money without having to comply with the notice and
settlement procedures contained in s. 475.25(1)(d).
(4) The provisions of this section do not apply to transient rentals by
hotels or motels as defined in chapter 509; nor do they apply in those
instances in which the amount of rent or deposit, or both, is regulated by
law or by rules or regulations of a public body, including public housing
authorities and federally administered or regulated housing programs
including s. 202, s. 221(d)(3) and (4), s. 236, or s. 8 of the National
Housing Act, as amended, other than for rent stabilization. With the
exception of subsections (3), (5), and (6), this section is not applicable
to housing authorities or public housing agencies created pursuant to
chapter 421 or other statutes.
(5) Except when otherwise provided by the terms of a written lease, any
tenant who vacates or abandons the premises prior to the expiration of the
term specified in the written lease, or any tenant who vacates or abandons
premises which are the subject of a tenancy from week to week, month to
month, quarter to quarter, or year to year, shall give at least 7 days'
written notice by certified mail or personal delivery to the landlord prior
to vacating or abandoning the premises which notice shall include the
address where the tenant may be reached. Failure to give such notice shall
relieve the landlord of the notice requirement of paragraph (3)(a) but
shall not waive any right the tenant may have to the security deposit or
any part of it.
(6) For the purposes of this part, a renewal of an existing rental
agreement shall be considered a new rental agreement, and any security
deposit carried forward shall be considered a new security deposit.
(7) Upon the sale or transfer of title of the rental property from one
owner to another, or upon a change in the designated rental agent, any and
all security deposits or advance rents being held for the benefit of the
tenants shall be transferred to the new owner or agent, together with any
earned interest and with an accurate accounting showing the amounts to be
credited to each tenant account. Upon the transfer of such funds and
records as stated herein, and upon transmittal of a written receipt
therefor, the transferor shall be free from the obligation imposed in
subsection (1) to hold such moneys on behalf of the tenant. However,
nothing herein shall excuse the landlord or agent for a violation of the
provisions of this section while in possession of such deposits.
(8) Any person licensed under the provisions of s. 509.241, unless
excluded by the provisions of this part, who fails to comply with the
provisions of this part shall be subject to a fine or to the suspension or
revocation of his or her license by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants
of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation in the manner
provided in s. 509.261.
(9) In those cases in which interest is required to be paid to the
tenant, the landlord shall pay directly to the tenant, or credit against
the current month's rent, the interest due to the tenant at least once
annually. However, no interest shall be due a tenant who wrongfully
terminates his or her tenancy prior to the end of the rental term.
83.54 Enforcement of rights and duties; civil action. —
Any right or duty declared in this part is enforceable by civil action.
83.55 Right of action for damages. —
If either the landlord or the tenant fails to comply with the
requirements of the rental agreement or this part, the aggrieved party
may recover the damages caused by the noncompliance.