Non-Refundable Deposits

NOTICE:  The information below was obtained directly from Florida Statutes enforced by Florida’s Attorney General. Links are provided so you may access the content on the official internet site of the Florida Legislature.

FAST FACTS   

If you have a nonrefundable deposit policy you must disclose to the customer in writing the following information:

  1. How long you will hold the vehicle from another sale;
  2. The amount of the deposit;
  3. Under what conditions the deposit is refundable or nonrefundable.

A violation may result in a civil fine of up to $10,000 or up to $15,000 if the customer is 60 years of age or older, has a disability, or is a service member or the family of a service member.


Whether you are accepting a deposit to hold a unit for a customer who is supposed to return within a certain period of time to go through with the sale, or if you are filling a special order for a customer, you must “clearly and conspicuously” disclose under what conditions the deposit is refundable or nonrefundable.

This law is enforced by Florida’s Attorney General through section 501.976, Florida Statutes, which is titled Actionable, unfair, or deceptive acts or practices. Specifically, Section 501.976(10) reads:  It is an unfair or deceptive act or practice, actionable under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, for a dealer to:

(10) Require or accept a deposit from a prospective customer prior to entering into a binding contract for the purchase and sale of a vehicle unless the customer is given a written receipt that states how long the dealer will hold the vehicle from other sale and the amount of the deposit, and clearly and conspicuously states whether and upon what conditions the deposit is refundable or nonrefundable.

A violation of this section may result in the following civil penalties:

501.2075 Civil penalty.Except as provided in s. 501.2077, any person, firm, corporation, association, or entity, or any agent or employee of the foregoing, who is willfully using, or has willfully used, a method, act, or practice declared unlawful under s. 501.204, or who is willfully violating any of the rules of the department adopted under this part, is liable for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each such violation. Willful violations occur when the person knew or should have known that his or her conduct was unfair or deceptive or prohibited by rule. This civil penalty may be recovered in any action brought under this part by the enforcing authority; or the enforcing authority may terminate any investigation or action upon agreement by the person, firm, corporation, association, or entity, or the agent or employee of the foregoing, to pay a stipulated civil penalty. The department or the court may waive any such civil penalty if the person, firm, corporation, association, or entity, or the agent or employee of the foregoing, has previously made full restitution or reimbursement or has paid actual damages to the consumers or governmental entities who have been injured by the unlawful act or practice or rule violation. If civil penalties are assessed in any litigation, the enforcing authority is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. A civil penalty so collected shall accrue to the state and shall be deposited as received into the General Revenue Fund unallocated.

History.s. 3, ch. 83-117; s. 1, ch. 92-40; s. 5, ch. 92-133; s. 9, ch. 93-38; s. 630, ch. 97-103; s. 4, ch. 2001-39; s. 25, ch. 2001-214.

501.2077 Violations involving senior citizen, person who has a disability, military servicemember, or the spouse or dependent child of a military servicemember; civil penalties; presumption.—
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Major life activities” means functions associated with the normal activities of independent daily living, such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
(b) “Mental or educational impairment” means:
1. A mental or psychological disorder or specific learning disability.
2. An educational deficiency that substantially affects a person’s ability to read and comprehend the terms of any contractual agreement entered into.
(c) “Military servicemember” means a person who is on active duty in, or a veteran of, the United States Armed Forces.
1. “Active duty” has the same meaning as provided in s. 250.01.
2. “Veteran” has the same meaning as provided in s. 1.01.
(d) “Person who has a disability” means a person who has a mental or educational impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
(e) “Senior citizen” means a person who is 60 years of age or older.
(2) A person who is willfully using, or has willfully used, a method, act, or practice in violation of this part which victimizes or attempts to victimize a senior citizen or a person who has a disability is liable for a civil penalty of not more than $15,000 for each such violation if she or he knew or should have known that her or his conduct was unfair or deceptive.
(3) A person who is willfully using, or has willfully used, a method, act, or practice in violation of this part directed at a military servicemember or the spouse or dependent child of a military servicemember is liable for a civil penalty of not more than $15,000 for each such violation if she or he knew or should have known that her or his conduct was unfair or deceptive.
(4) An order of restitution or reimbursement based on a violation of this part committed against a senior citizen, a person who has a disability, a military servicemember, or the spouse or dependent child of a military servicemember has priority over the imposition of civil penalties for such violations pursuant to this section.
(5) Civil penalties collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Legal Affairs Revolving Trust Fund of the Department of Legal Affairs and allocated solely to the Department of Legal Affairs for the purpose of preparing and distributing consumer education materials, programs, and seminars to benefit senior citizens, persons who have a disability, and military servicemembers or to further enforcement efforts.
History.—s. 2, ch. 92-40; s. 10, ch. 93-38; s. 631, ch. 97-103; s. 6, ch. 2003-179; s. 1, ch. 2013-210.
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