Florida Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Florida Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Last Updated: December 30, 2022 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions
  • Unpaid rent
  • Costs of damage
  • Damages due to breach of lease
  • Cleaning costs
  • Charges outlined in the lease
Return Deadline 15 days or 30 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return Amount due + court costs + attorneys’ fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Florida, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Florida

In Florida, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Monetary damage as a result of a breach of the lease
  • Cleaning costs
  • Other charges as outlined in the lease

Most states, such as Florida, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Florida?

Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

“Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Florida?

Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Florida?

Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Florida?

Landlords in Florida can charge a cleaning fee if it is specifically stated in the lease agreement, the landlord does not charge for cleaning done as a result of normal wear and tear, and the cleaning fee is reasonable.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Florida?

Yes, in Florida, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Florida?

Florida law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in Florida

Landlords must return a security deposit within 15 days from the date the tenant vacates the unit if there are no deductions. If the landlord intends to make deductions, they must return the security deposit no later than 30 days after sending a written statement of deductions.

The written statement of deductions must be sent by certified mail to the tenant’s last known address within 30 days from the date the tenant vacates the unit. Thus, the landlord has a maximum of 60 days to return the security deposit with deductions (if the written statement is sent on the 30th day).

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Florida?

Florida landlords have 15 days  after the tenant vacates the rental unit to return a security deposit if there are no deductions, or 30 days after sending a written statement of deductions by certified mail, when they intend to withhold a portion of the security deposit.

If the landlord sends a written statement of deductions, the tenant has 15 days from receipt of the statement to make an objection. The landlord must return the portion of the security deposit to the tenant no later than 30 days after they send the written statement.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Florida?

Landlords in Florida owe interest, but only if they hold security deposits in an interest-bearing account or post a surety bond. Landlords in Florida may choose to hold security deposits in a non-interest-bearing account, in which no interest would be due to the tenants.

How Do Landlords Give Notice / What Information Do They Have to Provide in Florida?

If deductions are to be made from the security deposit, a written explanation of deductions must be sent by certified mail to the tenant’s last known address.

The written notice should include language similar to the following:

This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of ____ upon your security deposit, due to _____. It is sent to you as required by § 83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit within 15 days from the time you receive this notice or I will be authorized to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent to (landlord’s address).

Security Deposit Disputes in Florida

If landlords do not return the security deposit or provide a written statement of deductions, if any, within the required time period, tenants can file for damages in court up to the amount of the deposit due to the tenant plus court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Deductions that are not mentioned in the lease agreement
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Florida?

If a landlord fails to perform their obligations regarding a security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in the small claims division of County Court if the amount of damages is less than $8,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in the County Court.

A small claims case regarding the return of a security deposit must be filed within 4 to 5 years depending on whether the lease agreement was oral or written.

Cases are filed in County Court where the property is located or where the defendant lives. An attorney is not required but permitted. Filing fees are $55 to $300, depending on the amount sought in damages.

Our website provides more information about the process of filing a dispute in Small Claims Court.