Q: Just moved from Jacksonville to Tampa and security deposit is being withheld on many items that are bogus.
Hello, I was trying to seek legal aid in Jacksonville, but having moved recently to Tampa I’ve been told by JALA (Jax area legal aid) that I needed a referral from my county... but my security deposit is being withheld. On the itemized list there are some legitimate items and others that are normal wear and tear. The items in question are: prep and paint interior (under the impression that by law you can not charge someone for wear and tear), late fees and portal fees, and a few others. Mind you these are all estimates and not actual repair costs. Had an old Roomate that is still located in Jacksonville get into the place after moving and it was confirmed, after the notice of intention to impose claim against security deposit, had been sent out via certified mail to our new address. This is a mess and they are trying to strong-arm us. I hope this finds you well and any help is appreciated. Thank you.
A: It seems that landlords always try to pull some shenanigans with the security deposit at the end of a tenancy. In Florida, the applicable statute is 83.49. An important thing to note is that pursuant to the statute the certified notice of intention must be sent to you within 30 days. The statute also provides that, "[i]f 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." Thus, you may want to inform your former landlord that if he has acted improperly, he will be responsible for your attorney fees. If your former landlord is unwilling to negotiate, you may have to file in small claims (depending on the deposit amount) and pursue the landlord. Pictures of the condition of the property after you left will be an important factor. If you would like more information please contact me.
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