A good security deposit agreement will be fair to both the landlord and tenant. The best security deposit agreement will be included in a written lease (read and agreed to by both parties when executing a lease agreement) and will clearly outline expectations for both parties including ways for the tenant to get their full security deposit back at move out.
It should include: notification of how a landlord is holding a tenant's security money, how security will be returned once a lease ends, and expectations of a tenant to avoid claims on their security.
It's important for landlords to know the law when adding any terms to a lease that might be outside the scope of a normal lease. Florida gives a large birth to landlords, but terms must adhere to Florida law and also be fair to both landlord AND tenant.
A security deposit agreement should notify the tenant of how the landlord is holding the tenant's security money including which bank and where. It could be included in the body of the lease, and/or it could provided in the form of an addendum to the lease for extra emphasis.
This provides the information to the tenant that the landlord is abiding by the laws of the state including how the security money should be held and if there is any interest accruing. Click here for lawful ways to hold security in Florida.
Tenants want their security money back quickly. It's important for landlords to understand and try to make that happen when possible. But Florida law is very clear and if there are any claims to be made on a tenant's security money, it could take a landlord up to a month to adhere to the law. For this reason it is HIGHLY SUGGESTED that landlords outline terms and a security deposit agreement within the lease or in the form of an addendum that includes specific timelines of security deposit returns in order to manage a tenant's expectations.
General rule of thumb:
If tenant leaves the property in good clean condition with no other claims (late fees as additional rent, or other monies legally owed as per the lease) landlords must return entire security within 15 days of move-out.
If the property was left with repairs needed due to the tenant's negligence or otherwise not adhering to the lease terms, the landlord must get estimates for repairs and write up the needed paperwork for claiming expenses from security. This can take up to 30 days, and tenants should understand this. By outlining this part of the law inside of a lease, tenants will likely understand and better be able to maintain and turn over the property in a way that gets them their money back faster!
A good lease also addresses expectations of the tenant clearly, so that they can read, understand and accept expectations prior to signing a lease, agreeing to terms and moving in. Tenants should be given the opportunity to understand and accept these terms on how to maintain and turn over the property in a way that protects their security money. And landlords should be as clear as possible in these expectations. If a landlord wants to leave the lease broad, they can simply refer directly to state law regarding the returning of security deposits. Examples of expectations that can be included in a lease:
Upon move out, tenant will..
It's important for landlords to adhere to terms that fall within Florida law. A security deposit agreement that goes outside of the law, if brought into court, will lose. However, landlords in Florida, as the owner of the property, have a lot of space in setting expectations and terms for their tenants and expectations of them. When clearly outlined and agreed upon, in the lease, it becomes easier for both parties to part ways amicably once the lease ends or the tenancy terminates.
If the tenant doesn't adhere to the lease terms that were clearly outlined and agreed to by them before they moved in and paid their security... landlords have a much easier time making any needed claims, or additionally suing tenants in court for additional monies owed.
Click here for more information on Normal Wear and Tear involving tenant expectations and claims on security.
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