SECURITY DEPOSIT CLAIM AND REFUND TIMING
A resident’s security deposit is sacred in the eyes of the law. Specific timing issues are laid out in Florida Statutes which must be followed to avoid the manager having to refund the entire security deposit to the resident, even if the resident owes the manager money. Many managers fail to take the law seriously and are surprised when a resident leaves owing a substantial amount of money to the manager, only to demand the full security deposit back from the manager because the manager failed to send the notice out in time or get the resident the balance of the deposit if any back in time.
When Does the Notice Have to be Sent to the Resident?
The required timing of the Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit, hereinafter “Notice”, depends on whether you are making a claim against the deposit or whether you are returning the full deposit to the resident.
Timing of Notice When Making a Claim
If making a claim against the deposit, the Notice must be sent out within 30 days from the date that the resident vacates the unit and not one day later. Failure to send out this Notice within the 30 days will result in the manager having to refund the full amount of the security deposit to the resident, regardless of amount owed to the manager. The is no excuse for failing to send the Notice out within the 30 day timeframe. A number of years ago, the timeframe was 15 days. Now it is 30 days.
Timing of Notice when returning the full security deposit If you are returning the full security deposit, you do not have to send out the Notice at all! Simply get the money in the mail within 15 days of the date that the resident vacated the premises. Many apartment communities fail to send the money to the resident within 15 days due to accounting issues and the time delays in requisitioning the money and getting a check from the corporate office. Unfortunately the judge does not care how your system works. The money must be sent out within 15 days period.
Returning a Portion of the Deposit
If you sent the Notice out and you are returning a portion of the deposit, you must return this portion of the deposit within 30 days from the date you sent out the Notice.
Examples: 1. Resident vacates September 5 and you are not making a claim against the deposit. You must return the deposit by September 20. The Notice need not be used. Simply send the money.
2. Resident vacates September 5 and you are returning some but not all of the deposit. You must send out the Notice by October 5 and you must return the balance of the deposit within 30 days from the date you sent out the Notice.
The Security Deposit Law 83.49 (3)(a) - (3)(c)
83.49 Deposit money or advance rent; duty of manager and resident
(3)(a) Upon the vacating of the premises for termination of the lease, if the manager does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit, the manager shall have 15 days to return the security deposit together with interest if otherwise required, or the manager shall have 30 days to give the resident written notice by certified mail to the resident's last known mailing address of his intention to impose a claim on the deposit and the reason for imposing the claim. The notice shall contain a statement in substantially the following form: 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 (manager's address). If the manager fails to give the required notice within the 30 day period, he forfeits his right to impose a claim upon the security deposit. (b) Unless the resident objects to the imposition of the manager's claim or the amount thereof within 15 days after receipt of the manager's notice of intention to impose a claim, the manager may then deduct the amount of his claim and shall remit the balance of the deposit to the resident within 30 days after the date of the notice of intention to impose a claim for damages. (c) If either party institutes an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to adjudicate his right to the security deposit, the prevailing party is entitled to receive his court costs plus a reasonable fee for his attorney. The court shall advance the cause on the calendar.
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