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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33766
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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My ex-landlord witheld 700.00 of our security deposit to

Customer Question

My ex-landlord witheld 700.00 of our security deposit to reseed the lawn and have weeds pulled. There is no mention in our lease that we were responsible for anything outside this single family residence. I mowed the grass weekly and kept the pool just because I didn't mind doing it. I was also reading the Florida statutes and he was required to provide us with legal documentation within 30 days of end of lease stating why he was withholding a portion of the security deposit. He sent us a check for a portion of the deposit and a hand-written note stating a deduction for lawn care. In addition, Florida statutes require a new lease for a stated term or stating month to month after the initial one year. We were there two years and never received anything but a verbal that we could go month to month. What should my next steps be? Thanks, Bill.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 3 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Was there anything in the lease about you being responsible for lawn/yard care?

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Was it discussed prior to your lease starting as to who was going to come over and cut the grass and maintain the yard?

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How long after you moved out did you get the check and hand written note?

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In addition, Florida statutes require a new lease for a stated term or stating month to month after the initial one year

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Can you point me to that statute?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi Barrister,Nothing in the lease regarding upkeep of the grounds. I cut the grass and vacuumed the pool weekly. He sent the note and partial refund 3-4 weeks after we moved out. Please see below.The 2016 Florida StatutesTitle VI
CIVIL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE Chapter 83
LANDLORD AND TENANT View Entire ChapterCHAPTER 83
LANDLORD AND TENANT
PART II
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES
(ss. 83.40-83.683)For all other deposits:
(a) Upon the vacating of the premises for termination of the lease, if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit, the landlord shall have 15 days to return the security deposit together with interest if otherwise required, or the landlord shall have 30 days to give the tenant written notice by certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address of his or her 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 (landlord’s address) .
If the landlord fails to give the required notice within the 30-day period, he or she forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit and may not seek a setoff against the deposit but may file an action for damages after return of the deposit.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 3 months ago.

Ok, this is what you mentioned...

In addition, Florida statutes require a new lease for a stated term or stating month to month after the initial one year

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The statute you cited doesn't require the landlord to enter into a new lease... it is about the return of the security deposit...

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I have studied the FL landlord tenant statutes and have never seen such a requirement so I just wanted to check if you actually saw that somewhere or just thought that was the case? The normal default law is that once a fixed term lease expires, if the parties agree to continue the tenancy without a new lease, then it just automatically continues as month to month until one party terminates with a written 15 day notice...

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As for the yard, as a general rule if the lease included the entire property, including the yard for your use under the lease, but was silent about who maintained it, then that burden falls on the landlord as part of his normal maintenance duties. He can designate that duty to a tenant, but must do so in writing in the lease.

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As for the deposit, if he was intending on retaining some portion of it, he has to send you a written itemized notice within 30 days of you vacating the property and returning the keys. If he fails to do so, as the statute says, he forfeits any right to deduct from the deposit. He can still sue for damages, but he has to first return the entire deposit..

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So if he didn't send the notice postmarked within the 30 day window, then he is in breach and your recourse here is to file a small claims court action against him for breach of contract. The judge will order him to return your entire deposit plus court costs.

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If he then trues to sue you for the lawn, then since the lease doesn't specify who takes care of it, the law will interpret that against the drafter of the contract, i.e. the landlord, so when there is ambiguity in a contract, the person who wrote it up gets it held against them... So I don't see the landlord winning on the yard issue if you didn't actively damage it.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Outstanding! Thank you very much!
Expert:  barristerinky replied 3 months ago.

You are very welcome. Happy to help any time.

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided as that is the only way I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks much

Barrister

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