JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Paying rent during this pandemic is something many Jacksonville residents haven't been able to do in months.
Now, a moratorium on evictions is set to be lifted in Florida this Saturday, Aug. 1, putting thousands of residents in danger of being immediately out on the street.
However, there is a way for residents to get their rental deposit back even if they were unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A landlord can't just keep the money," tenant attorney Glenn Banner told First Coast News. "They have to provide a certified letter to the last known forwarding address of an accounting of how they are applying the security deposit. If they don't do that within 30 days, even if the tenant owes them money, the landlord forfeits their right to your security deposit."
Banner, a Jacksonville Attorney who fights for tenants' rights calls it security deposit theft. He said a lot of folks just don't know their rights, so when they move out they never receive a letter, or if they do receive a letter it's imposing claims on things the tenant didn't cause.
These claims include extraordinary cleaning, carpet cleaning, damages that are wear-and-tear. Banner said, in essence, what some landlords are trying to do is to get the former tenant to pay to get the apartment unit renovated and cleaned up for the next tenant
Florida lawmakers have developed rules to protect tenants with law 83.49, but Banner said some renters just don't know how much power they really have.
Banner warns those forced to leave or who choose to leave due to a lack of payment to know their rights and to make sure they're not being taken advantage of.