Who holds my security deposit?
Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Most landlords require tenants to give a security deposit prior to moving in to a rental unit. The security deposit is held in case the tenant damages the property or decides to terminate the lease early without giving the proper notification. If you don't damage the property or violate any conditions of your lease agreement, you will receive your security deposit back at the end of your lease. But if you cause damage or violate a condition of the lease agreement, you may find that the owner keeps all or part of your security deposit to pay for the damages.
Laws about security deposits vary from state to state. My rental properties are located in Florida so that's what I'll be focusing on in this post. If you are located in a different state, I'd suggest doing a Google search for the name of your state followed by the words rental security deposit laws (for example, if you are in New Jersey, do a search for New Jersey rental security deposit laws). Here's what I can tell you about security deposits here in Florida:
There is no maximum amount that a property owner can charge for a security deposit. Some states limit the security deposit to the equivalent of one or two months rent, but here in Florida, that's not the case. Many owners do that anyway (for example, the security deposit for my rentals is one month's rent up front for the deposit).
In Florida, security deposits can be stored in an interest bearing account where the tenant receives the interest at the end of the lease term, a non-interest bearing account, or in a Surety Bond in the county where the rental takes place with the tenant receiving interest on their security deposit amount.
Regardless of how the security deposit is stored, the tenant must be notified of the location of their security deposit funds within 30 days of them being received.
In Florida, all or part of your security deposit can be withheld for paying for damages to the unit rented, unpaid rent, or other violations of the lease agreement (like having a pet and not declaring it and paying required pet fees, or not cleaning the unit as is required and is stated in the lease).
Your security deposit needs to be returned to you within 15 days of the end of your lease if a claim is not being filed against all or part of the funds. If a claim is being made, the landlord has 30 days to notify you in writing of their reason for keeping all or part of your security deposit. If you want to argue the reason, you then have 15 days to respond in writing about why you are in disagreement about them keeping all or part of your deposit.
For information about your rights as a tenant with regards to security deposits, visit the Florida Senate's website and search (in Windows, press the control key and the letter F, and then type in whatever you want to find) for security deposit. For more information about security deposits in general, take a look at my post, "What's the deal with security deposits when you rent?" Our Leesburg4Rent blog features articles of interest for renters and landlords (Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays), plus it focuses on local events and activities here in Lake County Florida (Mondays & Wednesdays). If you think you might find it helpful, please subscribe. If you spot a post that you think others might find useful, we'd really appreciate it if you share it on social media to help us gain readers. Thanks!