What is the penalty fora landlord that spent my security deposit?

My landlord admitted to not using a non-interest bearing account for my security deposit, in fact he “spent it already”, which is illegal. What is the penalty for the landlord not following the letter of the law and spending my security deposit for a rental unit that I have been in for the past 3 years (lease ends 7-31-10)? The condo was sold through a short sale and my security deposit wasn’t transferred in the sale to the new landlord. Can I sue for my full security deposit plus interest? Is there any other penalty for both landlords like double my security deposit or for distress?

Asked on July 27, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Florida


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It really depends on what you want here.  Just the return of the security deposit or prosecuting the landlord for stealing the deposit.  Florida law requires that the landlord return the security deposit within 15 days of vacating the premises or to give you written notice within 30 days of his intention to deduct from the security deposit for anything above normal wear and tear.  If you are going to litigate the issue of the deposit as to deductions then the prevailing party gets costs and reasonable attorney's fees.  Now, if you want to sue him for embezzlement or the like then you will have to go and check with an attorney if his actions meet the statutory requirement in Florida and what type of damages you are entitled to.  Good luck.


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