We have moved out the apartment about a month ago and the landlord is trying to charge them for what they consider to be unreasonable charges that more than just simply wear and tear. What can we do about getting our security deposit back?
The security deposits are governed by Florida Statute 8349 which is a very explicit set of procedural rules about who does what concerning security deposits. So, when we talk about security deposit laws in the first instance we have to talk a little dryly about the procedure. So, when your tenanting you move out you want to make sure you leave a forwarding address because these rules get all mocked up and don’t work very well unless you first leave a forwarding address. You’re going to want to do that. And at that point the responsibility for the landlord it is the responsibility of the landlord to take the first step regarding your security deposit. Meaning that within 15 days of when you depart and you’ve given notice as to where you’re going they have to give you your money back or within 30 days they have to give you a notification by certified mail that they’re not giving some or all of your money back and the reasons for that.
If the landlord fails to explicitly follow that law to write that certified letter just like it’s written in the statute itself send it certified within the time limits the landlord waives his right to the security deposit, it’s pretty important to know. If you’re a tenant your job really isn’t to be going, oh why aren’t you giving it back to me? Give it back to me, give it back to me, no. Your job is once they have given them an address you should be content to wait and see what happens because if time runs out on this clock you’re entitled to all of your security deposit.
Conversely, once you get this letter if you haven’t gotten your security deposit back you only have 15 days to object to it and if you don’t you waive your right to the security deposit. So, you got to follow these procedural things very carefully and usually this debate turns substantively on the issue of wear and tear normal and reasonable wear and tear.
Landlords are always trying to charge tenants for everything, got to clean the carpet, got to repaint the place and some of that stuff is appropriate and some of it isn’t. Things that if you’re living in a place for five years and at the end of five years the place needs to be painted again because it got a little bit dirty that’s normal wear and tear, repainting it is not something that a tenant should have to pay.
On the other hand if you put your cigarettes out in the rug and the rug is a total mess maybe you had an animal or something and you ruined the rug and they have to replace the rug that’s not normal wear and tear that would need to be replaced so that’s usually what security deposit issues turn on.
And so if the landlord and tenant cannot work it out they just have a real dispute then neither one’s going to bend on it and the only way to resolve that is to go to court some small claims action.
That’s right. So, when everybody follows this law and the landlord does his responsibility within the 30 days and the tenant conversely files an objection within 15 days we have reached a stalemate. That means the money is supposed to stay put and somebody needs to bring this matter to small claims court typically. Small claims court is for disputes under $5,000.