When does landlord need to give tenant notice about security deposit?


When does landlord need to give tenant notice of landlord's intention to keep all or some of tenant's security deposit? Watch as Attorney Tom Olsen and Attorney Jim Monroe answer this question and more! 


Ed:  Hi Tom. Thanks for taking my call. I have a landlord-tenant question for you. I’m a new landlord and we have a rental property that was rented for the last two and half years. I had a great tenant, always paid on time. He wanted to break his lease early by three months and since he was a good tenant, we told him, “Okay fine. If you surrender your security deposit to us and you basically clean the place up, we’ll do that and then give you a letter of recommendation for being a good renter.”

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right.

Ed: He didn’t really – he left like four truckloads of trash. The place was dirty. All that, and, so he basically broke his part of the bargain. So my question to you is: Being a new landlord, I know that I have to send him a letter within 30 days to get the security deposit, is that correct?

Attorney Tom Olsen: So Ed, you are only obligated to give that notice of your intention to keep the security deposit when your tenant has fully complied with the terms of the lease. Meaning the lease has come to an end and they have moved out.  When you tenant breaks the lease, the landlord is no longer obligated to give the tenant that notice of keeping the security deposit.  So, it may not be a bad idea to do it, but you are not obligated to under Florida law. 

Ed: Okay. Now, since he didn’t take up his part of the bargain, can I go after him for the last three months of the lease?

Attorney Tom Olsen: The landlord is obligated to mitigate damages, meaning you need to find another tenant. If it takes you three months to put another tenant in there then yes you can sue him for three months of rent. If it takes you two months to get another tenant, you can sue him for two months of rent plus your cost you to re-advertise it, clean it up, and so forth. 

So Ed, you don’t know what the measure of your damages is yet. Get another tenant in there and then think about whether it would be worthwhile for you to sue your former tenant in small claims court. 

Ed: Oh, I see. Alright, well, thank you very much. I love your show and the information. Thanks so much.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. Thank you, Ed. We appreciate it.