A new amendment to Florida Statutes, which takes effect July 1, 2023, has been signed into law by the State of Florida.

Chapter 83.491 provides the right for landlords to offer tenants the option to pay a fee instead of a security deposit. However, there is no obligation for landlords to offer this option to tenants. One of the main differences between this fee and a security deposit is that this fee is nonrefundable no matter the condition that the property is left in by the tenant.

The law is designed to help tenants who may not have enough money for a security deposit. Instead of paying a large sum upfront, tenants can choose to pay a fee that is usually less than what they would have paid for a security deposit. This can be especially helpful for low-income tenants who may not have enough money saved up for a security deposit.

The law also helps landlords by providing them with an alternative to security deposits. Security deposits can be difficult for landlords to manage because they must be held in escrow until the end of the lease. This can be time-consuming and expensive for landlords who must keep track of multiple security deposits. In addition, this can sometimes be a source of revenue for a landlord as oftentimes the fees may add up to more, depending on how much in fees they charge and how long the tenant remains in the unit, than the amount they might have been able to keep in damages through a security deposit claim.

If the tenant agrees to pay the fee, the landlord must notify the tenant within 30 days after the conclusion of the tenancy if there are any costs or fees due resulting from unpaid rent, fees, or other obligations under the rental agreement.

If the landlord has “security deposit insurance” for the premises, the landlord must include an itemized list of any unpaid amounts and the dates such amounts were due, documentation supporting any itemized damages and costs of repairs, and a copy of any written objection or report of any communication of objection by the tenant. If an insurer pays a claim that was submitted under this subsection to a landlord and the insurer has subrogation rights, the insurer may seek reimbursement from the tenant for the amounts paid to the landlord within 1 year after the tenancy that was the subject of the claim ends.

The tenant also has the option to stop paying the fees at any time during the tenancy and to pay a security deposit in full instead. The security deposit would be the amount listed in the lease or what is normal for a deposit on a similar property. Additional fees could be applicable if agreed upon in writing.

Overall, this law provides an alternative to traditional security deposits that can benefit both tenants and landlords. Tenants who are struggling financially can save money upfront while landlords can avoid some of the administrative costs associated with traditional security deposits and sometimes end up keeping more money in the long run that a traditional security deposit might offer.