Deposit Return Issue

8 Replies

Hi Guys! So, I have a question and hopefully you fellow landlords can guide me in the right direction. I have a Unit in a duplex in Sunrise Florida that the tenants just moved out. I assessed the damage and texted the ex-Tenant that from his $1600 deposit I was only returning $200. The total expense to fix the property was $1850 but I still wanted to give him something. He texted back saying “ok” and told me where to send the check. 5 days later he texted me arguing that the property was already in bad conditions and other false claims. What should I do? I told him I was going to send him a copy of the invoice from the person that did the work and the pictures before he moved in and pictures of how he left he property. Any advice? Thanks!

Hi Carlos,

All you have to do is send him the security deposit statement with the expenses that you had to cover. Make sure you have the before and after pictures for legal purposes If it comes to that.

First, if it were me and his deposit was $1600 and the damages were really $1850, I wouldn't have sent him back $200.  I would have sent him an invoice for $250. 

Second, like @Sai T. said, on issues like this, don't communicate by text.  It makes it too easy for the tenant to argue.  Just mail him the legally required return of the deposit and the accounting statement for what you deducted, along with any necessary invoices/receipts, and be done with it.  Don't respond to any subsequent texts or engage in any back and forth arguments.  (Keep in mind for next time that he probably wouldn't have even contacted you if you would have sent him a bill for $250.)

I agree with James. Just send the invoice and make sure you have documentation of what you're charging for. In my experience most people won't take the time or effort to take legal action against you for security deposit disputes. Good luck! 

@Carlos C. undefined

Did you complete a move-in inspection?  If so, is there a checklist?  Both parties should review and sign and this creates the baseline conditions.  A similar move-out inspection is then performed and this documents the damages.  Again, both parties need to review/sign.  

I concur with Kyle - the damages are the damages and hence the costs of repairs is what the tenant is on the hook for.  You can share the costs incurred if so remember to account for your time. 

See Chapter 83 Part II. There are LEGAL requirements. Text does not meet that requirement. Send CERTIFIED letter with the following REQUIRED LANGUAGE:

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 s. 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) .

If you are making a claim you have 30 days to notify the tenant by certified mail. If no claim, you have 15 days to refund the entire deposit.

Keep in mind: if he objects in writing within the specified time you cannot arbitrarily take HIS money. You will need a court hearing to decide who gets that. 

BTW: print out Chapter 83 part II and get to know it. Also, did you handle his deposit according to law when you received it? You should have notified them HOW it was kept (interest bearing or not), as well as the name of the institution and address. Hopefully you did not co-mingle HIS money. It is not yours-yet...and may not be if the courts side with him. Normal wear and tear cannot be deducted. 

I would be informing him that he owes an additional $250 above his $1600 deposit to cover the repairs. Be very carful you are not charging for normal ware and tear tenant turn over costs. Only charge for tenant caused damage and "excessive" ware and tear. 

Do not use texting or email, send all communication by mail.

If you feel ther ewill be push back have yur lawyer send th enotification.