As a Florida landlord, you have the right to collect one to two months’ rent as a form of protection against potential damage, eviction and vacancy costs. However, once you collect a security deposit, you have a legal obligation to safeguard the money in a secure account until the tenant moves out. Once the tenant moves out, you must fairly assess the damage to determine how much of the money to return and how much to use on repairs. You cannot use the money in the interim for any reason, as doing so would be in violation of Florida Statute 83.49, which explains the legal way to store a security deposit in Florida.
The first way you may store a security deposit is to place it in a separate bank account that does not bear interest. You may not commingle the funds with your own, nor may you use them for any reason until they actually become due to you.
The second way you may store a security deposit is to place it in a separate banking account that does accrue interest. If you choose to go this route, you must inform the tenant of the interest accrued and give him or her at least 75% of the annualized average interest rate that the account is subject to or an amount that is equivalent to 5% per year. You may use your discretion to decide which is appropriate. You may not commingle the funds with any others or use any of the money until it becomes due to you.
The third and final way you may store a security deposit is to post a surety bond for the amount of the security deposit or $50,000, whichever is less. You must post the bond in the county in which the rental home or property is located. You must also pay the tenant 5% of the interest the bond accrues at the time of move out.
You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.