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Tenants refute claim against their security deposit

In a nut shell: We have a very nice 2-story colonial in Florida that we rented out for past 1.5 years to a family we thought we screened well. Turns out that they didn't have the first clue how to take care of a house. They moved out about 10 days ago and on our "walk-out" with them, we realized it was worse than we thought. They never mowed the back yard, dead grass. Never used the water softener, hard water damage to faucets and appliances. Never changed air conditioner filter. Broken pool equipment, etc.. All in all, a disaster. We have hired people to bring the property back to life since it was well stated in lease they were to keep it in the same condition it was when they moved into the house. They called today telling us that we weren't "given permission" to keep the deposit and they would take us to court over it. We know we have 30 days to send an itemized list of damages and cost to repair but what happens if they counter our list? We know the have 15 days to respond. What happens then?

First question for me would be; why did it take you a year to discover the deficiencies? I believe that every state and city allows you to enter the property with appropriate notice. Maybe you should consider a qualified property manger or a new one.
Just be sure to have photographs and that your lease is clear and specific on who was responsible for what.  Some things are wear and tear.  If no real damages you might have a tough time.  Send the itemized list with actual amounts you paid for repairs and your claim against their security deposit.  Follow the law to a T or you'll have to return the entire deposit no questions.  Be sure to be in the realm as it applies to what is meant by 30 days and 15 days ie business days.  The guy who asked about why it took one year, he's right, grrrrr.  Bonafide landlords know how it goes, and in hindsight his take on it is good advice, for the future.
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