What happens when landlord and tenant dispute the return of the security deposit?


A landlord is required to give the tenant written notice of is intention to keep some or all of the tenant's security deposit.  The tenant then needs to give the landlord written objection to the landlord's claim.  It the landlord and tenant cannot work it out, then they go to small claims court.


Jim: Hey Tom. Good morning. Enjoy your show, longtime listener and a client of yours.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Thank you.

Jim: Daughter just graduated from FSU, of course moved out of her apartment in Tallahassee, she received a letter noticing that they're going to take most of the deposit. Yes, I know I've got 15 days to respond. If I respond, does that automatically throw me in the small claims court with disputing the question or can I ask for information about how they got the amounts that they came up with?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, first of all, then the notice to you or to your daughter, whoever signed the lease, should have come to you by certified mail.

Jim: And it did..

Attorney Tom Olsen: In that notice, they should be telling you why they're deducting monies from a security deposit.

Jim: Very broad cleanup and repairing the overgrown yard, which was never really a beautiful yard to start with.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Jim, what happens -

Jim: There's two other tenants and the amounts are like $700. It's just ridiculous in my opinion.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. Jim, if you object to it, what happens is you guys are in stalemate. The security deposit is locked up until either you and the landlord work it out or you go to small claims court. Objecting to it -

Jim: Okay. I automatically filed my letter and then that just said I can ask for additional information at that point.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, really, yes, you're objecting to it, number one, and asking for additional information. Now, Jim, if you do that, you got your status quo until somebody budges on this. If you do that Jim, it's not like okay, you send a notice, and if the landlord doesn't hear from you within six months, although you don't file a small claims action within six months, the landlord can do what he wants to. You are in status quo until you either work it out or you're in small claims court.

Jim: Okay.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, Jim.

Jim: All right. That sounds honest and I appreciate it.