How Long to Wait for Tenant Response to Claim on Security Deposit

9 Replies

I sent notice to a previous tenant on making a claim on their deposit recently. I sent the notice via Certified Mail to the address the tenant gave me. The tenant was not home at the time of delivery of June 20. USPS transported the letter to the local Post Office the same day, but the tenant has still not picked up the letter as of today, the 25th. By Florida landlord law, the tenant has 15 days to respond to my claim after receiving the letter, meaning they would have until July 5th. However, I don't know how the law reflects when a tenant was not home for the delivery and has not picked up the letter from the Post Office.

I'm sure some other landlords have experienced this before. Assuming the tenant does not pick up the letter from the PO, when would I be required to send them back the remainder of their deposit? 

Wait until the letter is claimed or if it is returned. They have 15 days after receipt of the letter  to object to your claim . If the letter is returned then you can make a claim against the deposit immediately and send them to balance.

Originally posted by @John Thedford :

Wait until the letter is claimed or if it is returned. They have 15 days after receipt of the letter  to object to your claim . If the letter is returned then you can make a claim against the deposit immediately and send them to balance.

Okay that's what I had assumed too. I just didn't know how it worked in case the tenant receives the check from me in a few weeks and then all of the sudden decided to protest something I had claimed damage on.  Assuming the letter is returned without them ever technically seeing it, are they then past the statute of limitations to make a counter claim? I just want to make sure I understand the laws before I potentially need to take any further action. 

This seems backwards. I have always seen that if you take out anything from the deposit you document it and send them a check (if any left)and explanation as to any deductions within 30 days of them moving out.

Originally posted by @John Underwood :

This seems backwards. I have always seen that if you take out anything from the deposit you document it and send them a check (if any left)and explanation as to any deductions within 30 days of them moving out.

 I assume it's just different in your state. Florida landlord law requires that you send them notice of of claims against the deposit first, then give them a 15 day grace period to respond, and then disperse the check after the 15 days and/or when landlord and tenant settle. The problem is that I can't find anything in the law about what happens when the tenant ignores/doesn't read/doesn't pick up the initial claim letter.

To play it safe, wait for the return of the letter, then 15 days, then send the balance certified mail. If it is returned do NOT open it. Just file it away and wait to see if you hear from them. If you do, send a second check and keep the first one unopened in case they claim they were not sent the funds timely. If you are making a claim, you have THIRTY days to do so. If no claim, 15 days to refund the entire amount. See Chapter 83 Part II of FL statutes. 

Originally posted by @Jeremy Gunn :

@Jason L.

It is a good idea to send the tenant a check for any balance along with the security deposit claim form. Evict.com Has some good Florida specific articles on this.

 I read the landlord laws to mean you have to give them the claim letter first, then give them time to respond/not respond, and then finally send the check. I guess including the check with the letter is an interesting high pressure strategy (since it disincentivizes them to wait the 15 days required) and it does save a second Certified Mail fee (and god forbid a third if they don't pick that letter up either), but I'm not sure it's within the bounds of the Florida statutes. Do you have any specific material on this?

@Jason L. Check out evict.com they are Florida lawyers specializing in landlord law they have a lot of great articles interpreting the law and advising on best practices. Click on articles on the left and then click on articles written by Harry Heist. All the articles are categorized.