Thank you for the additional information. If the tenant has vacated the subject property and it appears has no intention to return, you could enter it and clean it up and make the necessary repairs. You do need to preserve the property. Before doing so, you should take photos and document the damage caused. The reason being, is that you could make a claim and keep the security deposit, as long as you comply with Florida Statute 83.49
Deposit money or advance rent; duty of landlord and tenant.—
(1) Whenever money is deposited or advanced by a tenant on a rental agreement as security for performance of the rental agreement or as advance rent for other than the next immediate rental period, the landlord or the landlord’s agent shall either:
(a) Hold the total amount of such money in a separate non-interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution for the benefit of the tenant or tenants. The landlord shall not commingle such moneys with any other funds of the landlord or hypothecate, pledge, or in any other way make use of such moneys until such moneys are actually due the landlord;
(b) Hold the total amount of such money in a separate interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution for the benefit of the tenant or tenants, in which case the tenant shall receive and collect interest in an amount of at least 75 percent of the annualized average interest rate payable on such account or interest at the rate of 5 percent per year, simple interest, whichever the landlord elects. The landlord shall not commingle such moneys with any other funds of the landlord or hypothecate, pledge, or in any other way make use of such moneys until such moneys are actually due the landlord; or
(c) Post a surety bond, executed by the landlord as principal and a surety company authorized and licensed to do business in the state as surety, with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which the dwelling unit is located in the total amount of the security deposits and advance rent he or she holds on behalf of the tenants or $50,000, whichever is less. The bond shall be conditioned upon the faithful compliance of the landlord with the provisions of this section and shall run to the Governor for the benefit of any tenant injured by the landlord’s violation of the provisions of this section. In addition to posting the surety bond, the landlord shall pay to the tenant interest at the rate of 5 percent per year, simple interest. A landlord, or the landlord’s agent, engaged in the renting of dwelling units in five or more counties, who holds deposit moneys or advance rent and who is otherwise subject to the provisions of this section, may, in lieu of posting a surety bond in each county, elect to post a surety bond in the form and manner provided in this paragraph with the office of the Secretary of State. The bond shall be in the total amount of the security deposit or advance rent held on behalf of tenants or in the amount of $250,000, whichever is less. The bond shall be conditioned upon the faithful compliance of the landlord with the provisions of this section and shall run to the Governor for the benefit of any tenant injured by the landlord’s violation of this section. In addition to posting a surety bond, the landlord shall pay to the tenant interest on the security deposit or advance rent held on behalf of that tenant at the rate of 5 percent per year simple interest.
(2) The landlord shall, within 30 days of receipt of advance rent or a security deposit, notify the tenant in writing of the manner in which the landlord is holding the advance rent or security deposit and the rate of interest, if any, which the tenant is to receive and the time of interest payments to the tenant. Such written notice shall:
(a) Be given in person or by mail to the tenant.
(b) State the name and address of the depository where the advance rent or security deposit is being held, whether the advance rent or security deposit is being held in a separate account for the benefit of the tenant or is commingled with other funds of the landlord, and, if commingled, whether such funds are deposited in an interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution.
(c) Include a copy of the provisions of subsection (3).
Subsequent to providing such notice, if the landlord changes the manner or location in which he or she is holding the advance rent or security deposit, he or she shall notify the tenant within 30 days of the change according to the provisions herein set forth. This subsection does not apply to any landlord who rents fewer than five individual dwelling units. Failure to provide this notice shall not be a defense to the payment of rent when due.
(3)(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.
(b) Unless the tenant objects to the imposition of the landlord’s claim or the amount thereof within 15 days after receipt of the landlord’s notice of intention to impose a claim, the landlord may then deduct the amount of his or her claim and shall remit the balance of the deposit to the tenant 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 the party’s right to the security deposit, the prevailing party is entitled to receive his or her court costs plus a reasonable fee for his or her attorney. The court shall advance the cause on the calendar.
(d) Compliance with this section by an individual or business entity authorized to conduct business in this state, including Florida-licensed real estate brokers and sales associates, shall constitute compliance with all other relevant Florida Statutes pertaining to security deposits held pursuant to a rental agreement or other landlord-tenant relationship. Enforcement personnel shall look solely to this section to determine compliance. This section prevails over any conflicting provisions in chapter 475 and in other sections of the Florida Statutes, and shall operate to permit licensed real estate brokers to disburse security deposits and deposit money without having to comply with the notice and settlement procedures contained in s. 475.25(1)(d).
(4) The provisions of this section do not apply to transient rentals by hotels or motels as defined in chapter 509; nor do they apply in those instances in which the amount of rent or deposit, or both, is regulated by law or by rules or regulations of a public body, including public housing authorities and federally administered or regulated housing programs including s. 202, s. 221(d)(3) and (4), s. 236, or s. 8 of the National Housing Act, as amended, other than for rent stabilization. With the exception of subsections (3), (5), and (6), this section is not applicable to housing authorities or public housing agencies created pursuant to chapter 421 or other statutes.
(5) Except when otherwise provided by the terms of a written lease, any tenant who vacates or abandons the premises prior to the expiration of the term specified in the written lease, or any tenant who vacates or abandons premises which are the subject of a tenancy from week to week, month to month, quarter to quarter, or year to year, shall give at least 7 days’ written notice by certified mail or personal delivery to the landlord prior to vacating or abandoning the premises which notice shall include the address where the tenant may be reached. Failure to give such notice shall relieve the landlord of the notice requirement of paragraph (3)(a) but shall not waive any right the tenant may have to the security deposit or any part of it.
(6) For the purposes of this part, a renewal of an existing rental agreement shall be considered a new rental agreement, and any security deposit carried forward shall be considered a new security deposit.
(7) Upon the sale or transfer of title of the rental property from one owner to another, or upon a change in the designated rental agent, any and all security deposits or advance rents being held for the benefit of the tenants shall be transferred to the new owner or agent, together with any earned interest and with an accurate accounting showing the amounts to be credited to each tenant account. Upon the transfer of such funds and records as stated herein, and upon transmittal of a written receipt therefor, the transferor shall be free from the obligation imposed in subsection (1) to hold such moneys on behalf of the tenant. However, nothing herein shall excuse the landlord or agent for a violation of the provisions of this section while in possession of such deposits.
(8) Any person licensed under the provisions of s. 509.241, unless excluded by the provisions of this part, who fails to comply with the provisions of this part shall be subject to a fine or to the suspension or revocation of his or her license by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation in the manner provided in s. 509.261.
(9) In those cases in which interest is required to be paid to the tenant, the landlord shall pay directly to the tenant, or credit against the current month’s rent, the interest due to the tenant at least once annually. However, no interest shall be due a tenant who wrongfully terminates his or her tenancy prior to the end of the rental term.
In addition, your choice of remedies are found under 83.595
Choice of remedies upon breach or early termination by tenant.
—If the tenant breaches the rental agreement for the dwelling unit and the landlord has obtained a writ of possession, or the tenant has surrendered possession of the dwelling unit to the landlord, or the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit, the landlord may:
(1) Treat the rental agreement as terminated and retake possession for his or her own account, thereby terminating any further liability of the tenant;
(2) Retake possession of the dwelling unit for the account of the tenant, holding the tenant liable for the difference between the rent stipulated to be paid under the rental agreement and what the landlord is able to recover from a reletting. If the landlord retakes possession, the landlord has a duty to exercise good faith in attempting to relet the premises, and any rent received by the landlord as a result of the reletting must be deducted from the balance of rent due from the tenant. For purposes of this subsection, the term “good faith in attempting to relet the premises” means that the landlord uses at least the same efforts to relet the premises as were used in the initial rental or at least the same efforts as the landlord uses in attempting to rent other similar rental units but does not require the landlord to give a preference in renting the premises over other vacant dwelling units that the landlord owns or has the responsibility to rent;
(3) Stand by and do nothing, holding the lessee liable for the rent as it comes due; or
(4) Charge liquidated damages, as provided in the rental agreement, or an early termination fee to the tenant if the landlord and tenant have agreed to liquidated damages or an early termination fee, if the amount does not exceed 2 months’ rent, and if, in the case of an early termination fee, the tenant is required to give no more than 60 days’ notice, as provided in the rental agreement, prior to the proposed date of early termination. This remedy is available only if the tenant and the landlord, at the time the rental agreement was made, indicated acceptance of liquidated damages or an early termination fee. The tenant must indicate acceptance of liquidated damages or an early termination fee by signing a separate addendum to the rental agreement containing a provision in substantially the following form:
☐ I agree, as provided in the rental agreement, to pay $ (an amount that does not exceed 2 months’ rent) as liquidated damages or an early termination fee if I elect to terminate the rental agreement, and the landlord waives the right to seek additional rent beyond the month in which the landlord retakes possession.
☐ I do not agree to liquidated damages or an early termination fee, and I acknowledge that the landlord may seek damages as provided by law.
(a) In addition to liquidated damages or an early termination fee, the landlord is entitled to the rent and other charges accrued through the end of the month in which the landlord retakes possession of the dwelling unit and charges for damages to the dwelling unit.
(b) This subsection does not apply if the breach is failure to give notice as provided in s. 83.575.
History.—s. 2, ch. 87-369; s. 4, ch. 88-379; s. 448, ch. 95-147; s. 2, ch. 2008-131.
Of course, the security deposit alone does not cover the amount which you are owed, so you would then have to proceed through the court and sue for damages. You would need to obtain permission from the Judge, to retain and sell the property that was left, since it legally is not yours, unless ordered by the court or abandoned by the tenant.
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