Our topic today is security deposits and what to do if you find yourself in a dispute with a tenant in Orlando. The best idea is to put a process in place that prevents this from happening.
Move In Inspection
When we move a tenant into a property, the first thing we do is a professional inspection. This allows us to document everything. We look at the outside of the property, including the lawn, the exterior paint, fencing and the pool area. Then, we move through the interior, looking at the carpet, paint, appliances, cleanliness, air conditioning filters and smoke alarms. We document all that information and give a copy of the inspection report to the tenant. This can help you clear up memories a year or two later.
Move Out Inspection
When tenants vacate, we do a move out inspection on our iPads. At this point, we again document the condition of the property and we compare it to our initial inspection. If the tenant disagrees with what we find, they can dispute it through a written letter to us.
Returning the Deposit
Pay attention to the legal timelines required when returning your tenant’s security deposit. If you are not making a claim against the deposit, you have a fifteen day time frame to return it. If you are making a claim against the security deposit, you have 30 days to do that in writing. You need to notify the tenant or return the deposit by certified mail. Send it to the last known address or the forwarding address they provided you when they moved out.
Tenants can dispute any claims we make on the deposit. Depending on the degree of the dispute, we might negotiate with the tenant or use an attorney to get a settlement in writing and agreed up on by both parties. The goal is to avoid going to court. Try to negotiate because the tenant does have the option to sue you, and we do not recommend going through the legal system.
Remember that the deposit never belongs to the landlord. It is always the tenant’s money and it has to sit in an escrow account throughout the tenancy, awaiting disbursement.