Security Deposit Claim Gone Bad

Landlords face a lot of liability in the rental business, but unfortunately, a notable percentage of landlords do not do things legally or properly–and they may not even realize it. They may have done things the wrong way for years, and thus, they feel that they are doing things just fine and do not need concern themselves with hiring an attorney to help ensure they are doing business the legal way–before trouble occurs. This article highlights how a simple security deposit dispute can cost the landlord much more than he bargained for.

In Gorman v. D’annunzio, 24 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 633b (Orange County, March 28, 2016), the tenant, through his attorney, sued the landlord for return of the security deposit after the tenant vacated the premises. The tenant hired the attorney on a 100% contingency basis, meaning the attorney did not charge any fees to the tenant unless they prevailed in the action, which they did. After prevailing in the matter, the tenant’s attorney sought an order for attorney’s fees, pursuant to F.S. 83.49(3)(c) in the amount of $48,800.

Ultimately in that case, the court reduced the tenant attorney’s fees to $35,833.88, ruling that some of the costs and time spent on the case was excessive. Still, the landlord was ordered to pay $35,833.88! The amount of money the tenant sued the landlord for was $3,365.00. 

Below is the tenant’s claim filed that began the action and ended with the landlord losing and being obligated to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees and having to return $3,200 of the security deposit.