Broward County Tenant Walk-Through Requirement
If you are a Broward County landlord, (that includes everyone from Fort Lauderdale to Weston, and Deerfield to Hollywood), you MUST do a walk-through of your property with your Tenant if you intend to take a security deposit. This walk-through has to follow a few rules and has to be signed by you and the tenant. Failure to follow this rule could not only result in the loss of your ability to collect against your security deposit, but it could in fact result in a fine being issued against you if you collect a deposit and fail to follow these rules.
Even more alarming perhaps is the broad definition which is used of security deposit under the ordinance. Broward county defines deposit under the ordinance as “means any money held by the landlord on behalf of the tenant, including but not limited to damage deposits, security deposits, advance rent deposit, pet deposit, or any contractual deposit agreed to between landlord and tenant either in writing or orally.” Meaning even if you are taking any form of non-refundable deposit, you essentially need to be conducting a walk-through of the property or you will be in violation of the ordinance.
Sec. 20-197. – Prohibition (Walk-Through Requirement)
Under the Broward Ordinances, Sec. 20-197. – Prohibition, it states “It shall be unlawful and a violation of this article, for any landlord, either by himself or through an agent, to accept from a tenant or prospective tenant any deposit money held as damage deposit, in connection with any transaction within the application of this article, unless such landlord, or agent of such landlord, shall first have:
(1) Conducted, in company with the tenant, prospective tenant or agent, a walk-through inspection of the entire rental premises; and
(2) Made a written list, in duplicate, of damage or defects existing in or on the premises; and
(3) Signed and dated each duplicate list, obtained the signature of the tenant, prospective tenant or agent, on such duplicate list, and delivered one of the duplicate lists to the tenant, prospective tenant, or agent.” (Ord. No. 79-95, § 1, 9-19-79; Ord. No. 80-16, § 2, 2-27-80)
Let’s say that John, a Landlord in Wilton Manors, Florida, collects a security deposit from Sarah, his new tenant. John allows Sarah to move in and does not do a walkthrough. A few months later, Sarah lets her brother Don stay at the apartment with Kujo the dog.
When John discovers Kujo destroyed everything in his rental property he tries to collect against Sarah’s security deposit for the damages. Unfortunately, as he did not conduct a walk-through prior to move-in, he not only does not have proof of the extent of the damages, Broward County rules bar him from making a claim. Worse yet, if he attempts to make a claim, he is on the hook for Sarah’s attorneys fees.
When it comes to walk-throughs as a landlord. It is always a best practice to do one no matter what, however failure to do so in Broward County will likely result in your security deposit turning from a security blanket into a liability.
Don’t forget to download your FREE walk through guide here, which will help you follow the laws. If you have any questions, or would like help with any of your Landlord problems, give us a call at 954-603-7603 and we would be happy to help.
Call For A Free Consultation