Yes, you must send a certified letter objecting to the claim.
State that you object and you demand to see proof and receipts.
Send the original certified mail and a copy first class mail non-certified.
In certain situations the tenant is obligated to provide the landlord with a forwarding address. If the tenant does not do this in those situations, the landlord is not obligated to send the certified letter. Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes states specifically:
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.
Nevertheless, I agree with Ms. Graham. You should mail your objections within the 15 days provided for by Chapter 83. If the landlord does not respond to your objection so that the two of you can work something out, you may have to file a small claims lawsuit. The prevailing party in the case is also entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and court costs.
Disclaimer: This is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. Additionally, my answering your question does not make me your attorney or create an attorney-client relationship. The response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
In addition to the advice already provided, when you contest the damages alleged by the landlord, also state that you expect a full refund of your deposit. There is no need to get into the fact that the landlord did not follow the proper procedure for mailing the claim letter via certified mail at this time. The good news is that you received a large portion of your deposit back which is better than most I hear about. The decision you may have to eventually make is whether it is worth your time and expense to go after $200 in small claims court. The only justification for pursuing the money you believe owed to you at this point if the landlord ignores your response letter is the principle of the matter. Another option is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau if the landlord is a member. You would only need to do this, if the landlord ignores your response letter.