What is the landlord's responsibility to return a tenant's security deposit?


Attorney Tom Olsen: Let's go to Jose in Volusia County. Jose, you're on News 96.5, go ahead.

Jose: I’m a renter or tenant. After my lease expired, I asked my landlord to return my deposit. It’s been a month and a half and my landlord has not returned my security deposit.  What should I do when my landlord does not return my deposit?  

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay Jose, great question. For that, we are going to turn to Rob Solomon. Rob, you understand the situation? 

Attorney Rob Solomon: When it comes to the security deposit, one of the good things about being a tenant in Florida is that the responsibility to do something is not yours. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to take all steps necessary to either return your security deposit or notify you of the landlord’s intention to keep all or some of your security deposit. So long as the landlord knows your new mailing address, it’s the landlord’s responsibility, within 15 days of your vacating, to return your security deposit or, within 30 days of your vacating, to give you a certified letter as to why the landlord is making a claim against your security deposit. If the landlord does not do either of these things, then the landlord has waived his right to make a claim against the security deposit. If the landlord has given you a claim letter within 15 days of the tenant vacating, the tenant must respond to the landlord within 15 days and notify the landlord of tenant’s objection. 

Jose: After the landlord’s claim period, the landlord handed the claim letter to me. 

Attorney Rob Solomon: Handing you a claim letter is insufficient. It must to be given to the tenant by certified mail so that there is evidence of deliver of the claim. So giving it to you after the 30-day period or simply handing it you is not effective. And this is a law that gets enforced very specifically. Not all laws are this way but this particular one is.  The courts have said that you’ve got to do things exactly according to Florida Statutes or the landlord waives his right to make a claim against tenant’s security deposit.