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ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 17077
Experience:  General practice attorney
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I live in Florida. The landlord company deducted deposit

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I live in Florida. The landlord company deducted deposit without sending me notification for 15 days. They sent later via email, dated 9/15, check with deductions was dated 9/18. Can they do that?
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Florida
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: No. Just got the check but did not get notification until I called them and they emailed it to me.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I just want to know if they can do that and deduct the deposit without notifying me

Thank you for using JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. When did you move out in the first place? What did they deduct and do you contest all of the deductions?

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
We moved out 7/21, but since we broke the lease we paid the additional amount for lease plus rent for all of August. I officially left the property 8/31. Today I received a check dated 9/18 minus about $1,000. $392 was for water/sewer which I do not dispute, but most of the other charges were issues with the house when we moved in. Once I contacted them, they said I should have received the notice before the check. They sent me the notice via email and it's dated 9/15. The check is dated 9/18. They did not give me the 15 days to review and dispute. Can they do that?
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Can we just continue in writing. Credit card thinks this is illegitimate
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Do I repeat my question?

Apologies, I had to step away from the desk. One moment please...

On 7/21 did you give a forwarding address to the landlord?

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
we did. As an example, we got the check today to our new address, so they knew how to contact us. But I'm confused why they didn't send the notice, and made the deductions on 9/18 when the notice is dated 9/15. That's only 3 days, not 15 days as per the statute.

Thank you for that additional information. Please give me a few minutes while I type a response. I am still here with you, but it does take a bit of time to type a complete response.

I'm sorry, I just want to be clear: they emailed you on the 15th, and sent you a check on the 18th, without you ever reiterating your address? And they did not mail you any certified letter indicating why they're deducting the amount?

I'll assume that they didn't send this certified. Here's the actual law:

83.49 Deposit money or advance rent; duty of landlord and tenant.—

(3) The landlord or the landlord’s agent may disburse advance rents from the deposit account to the landlord’s benefit when the advance rental period commences and without notice to the tenant. 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.

Notice that it specifically says "certified mail". It's clear that he knew your address, because he sent the check to it. So the fact that he sent the message via email indicating his intention to deduct is not enough. The law specifically says certified, and says that if it's not complied with, he waives his rights. It's also upon vacating. But if I were you, I would wait until October 1 or 2, then say that this wasn't certified, so under this law he has to return everything to you.

Send a demand letter demanding payment within 30 days, otherwise you will pursue legal action against him, seeking that amount plus any additional damages as allowed by law. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested, as well as a copy sent regular mail. Keep a copy for yourself, as well as the return receipt number so that you can show the court that you made a demand for the unpaid security deposit

If he still doesn't pay, Do a search on the web for your county and "small claims court." You should find either a website or phone number to the small claims clerk. Ask them what you need to do to bring such a lawsuit. The small claims clerk will give you guidance on how to file this suit and how to get the other party served with notice. You will receive a hearing date, at which you should present your evidence and ask for a judgment for the amount that you should be paid..

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable.

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Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
I'm so sorry for not responding, but I received a phone call and at first I thought it was you but it was a female attorney instead. She spoke to me mostly about the type of deductions they're making. You see they are "cleaning to rent" which I did leave everything clean including refrigerator, stove, etc. They are also spot painting and charging me for that. It's not an individual landlord, it's Waypoint Homes (not the best reputation either) so they are charging me to set up the place all nice for them to rent again. But the law specifically says "damages" and not "normal wear and tear." So, you're saying because they never sent me the notice, I don't even have to go into that because they waived their rights? I think from both you and the other female attorney I feel better and I have a case. I'll be glad to close our conversation out and give you the well-deserved stars. Let me know. Now I have this window open in my computer.

Yes, that's what the law says. The "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." is in the law itself. And since you can show that he clearly had your mailing address, he can't say that he didn't have it so couldn't mail it to you. But like I said, I would wait until October 1 to make this claim, because arguably he might be able to send it now and claim that you vacated at the end of last month, so it's within 30 days. After 30 days, he doesn't have a defense.

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Last question then I'll let you go. But if I wait until 10/1, that goes beyond my own 15 days to respond, especially since now they know I didn't get the notice (remember, they emailed it to me surprised I didn't get). Doesn't the fact that they issued and mailed me the already discounted check accounts for them not giving me the 15 days after all? I mean, I got the check already with the monies taken out and the date on the check is 9/18, so they had no intention of giving me the 15 days notice. If they messed up, that's on them, because I received the check without the notice. I'm already preparing all my materials, and there are even discrepancies with water/sewage bills as well as them wanting me to pay for touch up painting, etc.

Good point. Just to be abundantly safe, respond within 15 days contesting the specifics of the withholdings, but in the response you should specifically say "I'm not waiving any other rights or defenses that I might otherwise have against you by sending this letter to you".

ScottyMacEsq and other Landlord-Tenant Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Great! Thank you! I wished you had called yesterday, so I got confused that another attorney called. Have a good day and wish me luck!

You're welcome, and good luck to you!