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Protecting Your Security Deposit, Part II

Throughout Florida, both tenants and landlords may experience problems with one another, especially regarding security deposits. In part I of this series, we discussed rights of tenants in receiving the security deposit after completion of a lease, as well as the reasons why a landlord may withhold all or a portion.

In part II, we will discuss specific ways to ensure that you avoid common mistakes renters make that can ultimately cost them their security deposits. Remember, you should speak with an attorney if you believe that your landlord has violated your rights as a tenant.

How Can I Ensure That My Landlord Returns My Security Deposit?

There are many ways you can protect yourself when it comes to ensuring that you receive as much of your security deposit as possible. There are different measures you can take before you sign your lease, during your tenancy, and after you move out that can increase your chances of rightfully getting your security deposit back.

  1. Before signing the lease.
    1. Check your lease. While it seems like an obvious thing to say, you should certainly check your lease for certain provisions that will govern the move-out process. If you fail to read your lease for these rules, you may actually owe your landlord a significant amount of money by the time you move out, lessening your chances of receiving your security deposit. The key provisions you should look for include the notice requirement for moving out and expectations upon move-out. If you do not provide your landlord with the proper amount of notice, you could end up owing your landlord a penalty payment or another month of rent to make up for the lack of notice. If you do not meet your landlord’s expectations upon move-out with respect to cleanliness, you may be required to pay the costs of restoration.
  2. During your tenancy.
    1. Address problems as soon as possible. Any time something happens in your apartment that will require a repair in the future, address it at the time it happens, if you can. If, for example, a guest gets a little rowdy and you end up with a hole in your wall, address the hole as soon as you can. Depending on your landlord, they may provide you with a matching sample of paint to paint over the hole after you patch it; it may be worth it to ask. However, if you would prefer to completely address it yourself, you can easily patch the hole and find a matching paint at a paint store.
    2. Be gentle on your apartment. Is there a bookshelf or a desk that consistently bumps against the wall? When you move that fixture, it may leave a very unsightly scuff mark on the wall that your landlord may charge you to repaint. Due to that, you should do your best to address these types of issues by moving the fixture away from the wall to prevent additional scuffing.
  3. Once you move out.
    1. Clean thoroughly. One of the easiest ways for your landlord to charge you additional money upon move-out is for cleaning costs. If your apartment is already sufficiently clean as your landlord defines it, you will not have to worry about that. If you know that you will not have the energy to clean the apartment appropriately, hire a maid service or get some family and friends to help you finish the job right.
    2. Repair some things yourself. If you hung a lot of pictures on the walls or notice that there are some scuffs on the walls, go over the scuffs with some matching paint or fill the holes.
    3. Be there for the walkthrough. After you move out, your landlord will perform a walkthrough to assess the condition of the apartment. This walkthrough is the time your landlord uses to inspect the entirety of the apartment and determine what needs to happen to the apartment to rehabilitate it. Your landlord will take this time to make an assessment on what problems left in the apartment go beyond “normal wear and tear.”

Contact Us if You Need Assistance

If you pay close attention to the care you take of your apartment, you should be able to avoid any significant problems with not receiving your security deposit. In the event that your landlord does attempt to wrongfully withhold your security deposit in Florida, Pike & Lustig, LLP can be your partner and help you fight for the money you deserve.

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