What are a tenant’s rights to the return of their security deposit?

We had to terminate our lease due to transfer of employment and relocation out of county. We called rental agent who advised that I should provide a letter from my employer confirming the transfer/relocation. I did so by faxing and sending it (certified mail) giving 30 days notice. We never heard from them. The week of our move, I called them to inquire about our move and they told me to bring keys to their office during business hours upon vacating. We received full refund of deposit 2 weeks after move, but then 4 weeks later got bill (re-renting, processing, cleaning and utilities) and they put stop payment on deposit check I had cashed. Is this legal?

Asked on December 1, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

From my understanding of the Florida law that surrounds security deposits, landlords can only deduct for those damages that are above what is known as "normal wear and tear."  Some states do allow for the landlord to deduct for additional items but I do not see that in Florida's laws.  Now, you need to do something about their claim.  You MUST object to the imposition of the claim by the landlord (or here the rental agent who is, I assume, the agent of the landlord) within 15 days of their letter to you.  If you do not agree then I would start a proceeding to recover the security.  The party that wins the proceeding in entitled to costs and reasonable attorney's fees.  I hope that you have pictures of the apartment and that you left it "broom clean."  Good luck.


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