Written by David Lowrey, Owner of Stress Free Property Management
As an owner of a Tampa Property Management Company, we used to file the occasional eviction paperwork for our clients. We thought we were providing a good service. We were dead wrong!
It took me a couple of years to notice what the judges were doing in dealing with evictions cases that we filed instead of using an attorney. First off, I notice the cases would take longer. Normally in Florida, a typical eviction case takes about 30 days from filing to getting the property back. As a Tampa Property Manager, our cases were stretching 60 and 90 days. I thought at first it was just an anomaly, but it kept happening.
Then I noticed, the judges would allow a tenant to contest our eviction and have a court date to argue, without first putting all the past due money into the court registry. In Florida, it is a state law that tenants cannot request a court date to argue an eviction, unless they pay the past due money into the courts (of course there are exemptions for extremely bad behavior by the landlord). The reasoning for this law I’m sure is to prevent tenants from causing expensive delays to landlord, when they have no intention of paying the rent.
Well, what I found is that the judges would routinely give the tenant a court date to argue the eviction, without having paid the past due rent.
What finally clicked for me...
was how inappropriate the judges would treat us in court, when we showed to the tenant’s court date. The would often give the tenant an extension to pay the past due rent. This could cause another 30-day delay and the tenant never, ever paid.
I decided to hire a company that specializes in handling evictions. They charged about $225 to file the paperwork and walk it through. Suddenly, everything changed. The eviction sped through in 30 days and rarely did the judge allow a tenant to have a hearing, without paying the past due rent to the courts.
That’s when it became clear to me that judges really hate dealing with property owners or property management companies that file their own evictions. I don’t know their reasoning, because obviously that would not be a question a judge would likely appreciate me asking. But, the reality is still the same.
Oh, and one more point. Usually the number one reason an eviction case is dismissed, and the landlord must refile it is serving an incorrect 3-day notice to the tenant. That’s another reason to use a specialist, because he or she can verify the 3-day notice is right before filing the eviction paperwork with the courts.
Please consider never filing your own eviction. Even though you save the money from having an attorney file it. You often lose two or three times that amount because of delays. Often judges seem to put your case at the bottom of their caseload not to mention the delays mentioned above.
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