General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Apkesh Kumar
  • Canada
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Can a tenant in FL take out-of-country investor to Claims court?

Apkesh Kumar
  • Canada
Posted Aug 3 2019, 07:18

Hope someone can help me on this one. I am a foreign investor with properties in Florida. Recently one of tenants left the unit looking like shi*t so I withheld their $1600 in security deposit (it cost me twice that amount to get the unit back to rental condition!). Now the tenant is threatening me that they are going to take me to small claims. Can someone tell me if this is possible, considering I don't live in the country? Also, in the event the Florida small claims does take up out of country cases, please advise what actions I should take right now and not fall for their treats? Thank you for your time in advance.

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Brie Schmidt
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Chicago, IL
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Brie Schmidt
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Chicago, IL
ModeratorReplied Aug 3 2019, 07:31

@Apkesh Kumar - Yes, of course they can.  The question is why?  Did you follow the procedures and laws in regards to SD returns?  Usually you have to provide a breakdown of costs and receipts within a certain time period for all charges deducted from the SD.

In my area, if the landlord does not provide them the tenant automatically get double the SD back

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Jaycilva Watson
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Dallas, TX
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Jaycilva Watson
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Dallas, TX
Replied Aug 3 2019, 07:32

@Apkesh Kumar First please know that I am not a legal adviser and you should seek their counsel.

Do you have any clause in your lease agreement stating that you have the right to withhold a deposit? If so you should be covered. Also do you have pictures/ proof that the unit was damaged and that the damages would be equal to or exceeded the amount withheld?

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Apkesh Kumar
  • Canada
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Apkesh Kumar
  • Canada
Replied Aug 3 2019, 07:47

@Jaycilva Watson

Hi yes I do and they were notified. Also, I read somewhere that to take someone to small claims court, you need to do that in their state. I am not sure if this would be true for a rental property though as it can be interpreted as a "business". Any attorneys familiar with Florida rental laws - please advise.

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Ama S.
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Replied Aug 3 2019, 07:57

@Apkesh Kumar If you have properties out of state or in your case out of country, you should have a property manager who would handle property management for you which would include security deposit deductions, mailing all required statements to the tenant regarding the deductions and being your agent in a lawsuit. 

Are you self-managing from out of the country? 

To answer your question, yes the tenant can sue you and the lawsuit will be in the jurisdiction where the property is located.

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Wayne Brooks#3 Foreclosures Contributor
  • Real Estate Professional
  • West Palm Beach, FL
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Wayne Brooks#3 Foreclosures Contributor
  • Real Estate Professional
  • West Palm Beach, FL
Replied Aug 3 2019, 08:08

Yes, of course they can....they file suit in the county where the property is, it doesn't matter where you live.