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My landlord won't give my security deposit back, but sent the letter stating it 38 days after I vacated the premises.

Tallahassee, FL |

My landlord sent a letter 25 days after I vacated the premises to the wrong address stating he was charging me extra for various reasons and not giving me my security deposit back. It was sent back to him, then postmarked 38 days after I vacated with the correct address on it. I sent him a cert. mail saying he was in violation of FS __ and I wanted my full security deposit back immediately. It has been 20 days and I have heard no response. Has he forfeited his rights to claim anything from my security deposit? Would it be wise to take him to small claims court? He has not returned any of my phone calls since the day I moved out - roughly 10 calls, 3 voicemails, over the past 2 months. Please help!

Attorney Answers 1

Posted

IF the landlord had the correct address his letter sent late will not be effective as to the security deposit. HOWEVER, he does not lose his rights to claim damages to the apartment/house. You can file a small claims action, but he can file a counterclaim for the alleged damages and the Court can make that a setoff against the security deposit. You can hire an attorney as there is an attorney's fee provision if you are successful in getting the security deposit returned.

The answers given are limited to the facts as given and presumed by the answer itself. Without seeing actual written documentation or having a conference to more fully explore the issues, this short answer has only limited application. Make sure to seek legal counsel and provide all documentation to get assistance in making informed legal choices. Bstein@dcfsz.com, 305 377 1505

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4 comments

Asker

Posted

The main things he is trying to claim are due to late monthly rent checks. I had stated many times that I apologized for them being late and if he wanted me to pay anything or do anything extra to let me know, but he did not. Not until I moved out and he sent me the letter after the 30 day period which had many months (starting with September of the previous year) of late charges. Does he have a right to claim those that late?

Barry A. Stein

Barry A. Stein

Posted

Security deposit is for damages to the unit NOT for late fees. He probably still has a right to collect them even if not previously enforced. HOWEVER, the actual lease would need to be reviewed to make sure.

Asker

Posted

The lease says "a late fee of $35 due on the 2nd day of the month, and an additional fee of $5 for every day payment is late thereafter". My landlord previously lived right next door in which case paying rent on the first of the month (and only the first) was convenient. He moved and then some of the checks took longer to get to him than others, and he is slapping me with hundreds of dollars in late fees now. I read a FL statute that says every tenant has a few days "buffer period" for paying rent before it is considered late. Does this apply? Should I take my landlord to small claims court? The security deposit is $415, and he is claiming damages/late fees of $450. Should I pay the excess or take him to court and fight it... he is claiming damages such as "light bulbs were not working". I didn't think that was a tenants responsibility to make sure all the light bulbs in the house didn't blow out.

Barry A. Stein

Barry A. Stein

Posted

I know of no statute that trumps your lease agreement. If paymens are due on the 1st and late fees apply as of the next day, you likely owe the late fees. Kind of impossible to be sure without seeing the entire lease. You run the risk in your security deposit case that a counter claim for the damages will be filed against you. You have to pay costs for filing and service which may be up to $200. I would think long and hard about pursuing the claims. Light bulbs are part of normal wear and tear.

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