Security Deposits in Tampa: A Guide for Landlords

Security Deposits in Tampa: A Guide for Landlords

Over 6,000 evictions were filed in Tampa over the last year.

If you're a Tampa landlord, you should do everything you can to avoid becoming part of this statistic. Many times, poor tenants leave you no other choice than to evict them from your property. That said, there are a few measures you can implement to prevent evictions.

One is thorough tenant screening to prevent poor tenants from renting your property. Another is to always ask for security deposits.

Today, we'll give you a short guide to collecting security deposits as a Tampa landlord. Read on and you'll be able to prevent tenants from taking advantage of your property.

What Are Security Deposits?

Security deposits are a form of insurance for landlords to protect your property from poor tenant behavior. You collect a security deposit at the beginning of a tenancy, usually at the same time you perform a move-in inspection.

This inspection involves walking around the unit with the new tenant and making note of existing damage. You perform the same inspection at the end of the tenancy and any new damage is presumed to have been caused by the outgoing tenant. The repairs for the damage come out of the security deposit.

You can also keep security deposit money for nonpayment of rent. If there are no issues with the tenant, you return the security deposit once they've moved out.

Security Deposit Laws in Florida

Every state has unique laws around security deposits. In Florida, there's no limit on how much landlords can collect for a security deposit, but as of last year, tenants could opt to pay monthly fees instead of a lump sum. Unlike a security deposit, these fees are non-refundable.

As a landlord, it's prohibitive to ask for a huge security deposit. It'll drive perfectly good tenants away from applying for your rental, increasing your vacancy rate. Keep your security deposit charges to the equivalent of 1-2 months' rent to preserve tenant rights while protecting your investment.

Collecting, Returning, and Withholding

The only other rule you must follow involves returning the security deposit. Landlords must return them between 15-60 days after the end of the tenancy. If you're withholding any of the deposit, always provide the tenant with an itemized list of deductions that you've made.

It's also a good idea to keep receipts from maintenance and photographic evidence of the damage. In the event your tenant takes issue with your deductions, you may need this evidence to defend your actions in court.

How Property Management Helps

Security deposits are a great tool for landlords who want an extra layer of protection for their investment property. That said, it can lead to contentious situations when a tenant decides to fight your deductions. In these scenarios, it helps to have a property management company around.

A good property manager can handle all aspects of tenant management, including collecting and returning security deposits. At PMI Metrobay, we're Tampa's top full-service property manager, helping local landlords run their properties more effectively.

To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today.