Law Office of Katherine L. Floyd, PLLC

Law Office of Katherine L. Floyd - News

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Using Technology to Serve Our Clients

This week, attorney Katie Floyd is Speaking at the American Bar Association’s TECHSHOW in Chicago, Illinois. Presented by the ABA Law Practice Division, ABA TECHSHOW is the premier legal technology conference that brings lawyers and technology together. Katie is a nationally recognized speaker on various technology issues and will be busy speaking all three days of the conference this year.

Since this will be a technology focused week, we thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight on some of the technology that we use in our law practice better serve our clients.

Website

Our website, www.floydlaw.net, is constantly evolving and growing. Through our website, you can:

Social Media

Our firm also has an active presence on social media. You can connect with our office through Facebook, Twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates on the law and insider news and information.

Paperless Practice

Our office has adopted a file and document management and retention system that is almost exclusively paperless. Except when physical documents are needed, documents are stored electronically and backed up locally and to the online storage solutions and secured in accordance with industry standard best practices. This allows us to keep administrative costs and overhead minimal.

In an effort to be more efficient and eco-friendly we have also adopted a primarily paperless invoicing system. Clients receive invoices via email and can make payments quickly and securely online. We can also process credit card payments in our office or through our website. All credit card processing is handled by a third party secure a secure payment system that is compliant with all credit card security standards.

Clients First

While we love technology, we never want to do so at the expense of client security or personal relationships. That’s why when you call our office during business hours, you’ll hear a cheerful human ready to assist you, never an automated phone tree.

Additionally, we go to great lengths to investigate our technology providers as well as their privacy policies and terms of service before bringing anything new into our practice. All data is stored on encrypted devices and password protected using industry standard best practices.

Katie Floyd
Why It’s A Bad Idea for Most Landlords to File Their Own Evictions

Every week we receive phone calls from Landlords who are in the middle of evictions they filed themselves and are now in trouble.We're happy to help, but often our hands are tied by the pleadings and papers the landlord has prepared and filed themselves and we are now simply trying to make the best of a bad situation. Here are just a few reasons why landlords should not file their own evictions:

It’s More Complicated Than You Think

Landlord tenant law is a very technical process and one misstep could result in your case being delayed, thrown out, or worse. While the Alachua County Clerk’s Office may provide some simple form documents, they are prohibited from giving you legal advice. Here are just a few of the common mistakes we see:

  • Landlords fill out the wrong forms
  • The correct forms are filled out incorrectly
  • Dates and/or amounts are miscalculated
  • Service is not completed appropriately
  • Proper notice has not been given
  • Landlords do not have adequate documentation to prove their case in court

You Could Be On The Hook For Your Tenant’s Legal Fees

If a mistake is made in the eviction process and your tenant contests the eviction and wins your case could be thrown out causing you to lose your filing fee and have to start the process, and pay the fees, all over again.

Worse yet, Florida Landlord Tenant law puts you on the hook for your tenant’s legal fees and costs. For this reason, many attorneys are willing to represent tenants at no up-front costs against pro se landlords, especially if they see a procedural or technical defect in the landlord’s filings.

Some Landlords Are Required To Be Represented By Counsel

There are some situations where a Landlord is required to be represented by counsel and failure to obtain counsel can be grounds for your tenant to file a motion to dismiss your action. In most Florida cases, individual property owners can file an eviction for their own properties without the assistance of counsel. However, if you own property in a corporate entity, in a trust, or are a property manager there may be restrictions on your ability to file an eviction that you should be aware of before filing.

A Mistake Is Very Costly

Your rental property is one of your most valuable assets. Why would you want to gamble with something so important? The longer a delinquent tenant remains in your property it means lost rent, lost opportunity to market and rent your property to a paying tenant, more potential for the delinquent, and now possibly angry tenant, to cause damage to your property. In addition to the above you can also be on the hook for additional filing fees, attorney fees and court costs. This can add up to thousands of dollars in lost revenue and out of pocket expenses.

Hiring An Attorney Is Not As Expensive As You Think

Our office will typically handle an uncontested eviction on a flat-fee basis plus the actual court costs. Hiring our office to handle an eviction will generally cost you less than allowing a delinquent tenant to stay and your property and give you the peace of mind of having an experienced advocate representing your interests.

Sadly, too many property owners only contact me when when they have run into trouble after filing their own evictions. By this time the damage may have already been done and options are limited. Our office regularly represents individual and corporate property owners as well as large apartment complexes and management companies with a variety landlord/tenant matters including evictions in Gainesville and the surrounding areas.

There are a number of resources available on this website including a list of frequently asked questions about the Landlord/Tenant process and articles about Landlord/Tenant Matters. Contact our office to find out how we can help.

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Evictions Are About To Get More Expensive for Landlords Who Delay

In Florida, evictions for non-payment are typically completed in a two-part process. Part one involves removing the tenant from the property while part two is the landlord’s claim for damages. “Damages” may include loss rent, attorney fees, court costs, and physical damage to the property.

Evictions are bifurcated because part one, tenant removal, can usually be accomplished in an expedited process called summary proceedings. Part two, a request for damages, comes later because a landlord won’t know their true damages until a tenant is out of the property and a full assessment can be completed.

Florida Statute 34.041 provides for a filing fee of $185 for a “removal of tenant" action. In Alachua County, our Clerk of Court has traditionally charged $185 for all residential landlord/tenant actions. However, we have received notice from the clerk's office that beginning on July 1, 2017, the Alachua County Clerk of Court will begin assessing a filing fee of $300 for all landlord/tenant cases that involve claims for money damages exceeding $2,500.

This means that if at the time of filing an eviction in Alachua County, if your tenant is $2,500 or more past due in their rental obligations, the fee to file your case will jump to $300, instead of the prior fee $185.

What should a landlord do? The best advice is to not let your tenant fall this far behind in the first place. In our experience, once a tenant has become significantly delinquent in their rental obligations, especially if that tenant is not proactively communicating with the landlord, the likelihood of the landlord being able to recover the lost funds diminishes. The longer a landlord waits to take action, the greater their loss.

If you have a tenant who is delinquent on their rent, we can help you reclaim your property so you can turn your investment cash-flow positive again. Contact our office to get started.

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Katie Floyd
What to do When A House Guest Won't Leave

It happens more often than you’d think.

You invite someone to stay in your home. Perhaps it’s a friend or relative who is going through a tough time and you’re trying to help them get back on their feet. Maybe it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend that moved into your place but now the relationship has turned sour. Regardless of how it started, you’re now stuck with an unwanted house guest who now refuses to leave.

If you feel threatened by your unwanted guest or fear for your safety or the safety of others, you should immediately contact law enforcement.

If there is not a safety issue, and the person has been staying at your home for some time, you will likely find that the police typically cannot remove the person and will instead tell you this is a civil matter you have to resolve yourself.

Some people will attempt to file an eviction to remove the unwanted person from their home. However, this can often do more harm than good. Unless there is a true landlord/tenant relationship, eviction likely the wrong legal remedy. If you file an eviction action without a landlord/tenant relationship this can result in delay, the case being dismissed, loss of filing fees and sometimes worse.

"Self-help" options are also discouraged as often the property owner who tries to remove the unwanted guest without going through the proper legal procedure can find themselves in trouble with the law.

The good news is there is a solution, generally by filing a claim for unlawful detainer or action for ejectment. These actions generally involve giving the unwanted party formal notice and an opportunity to leave the property peacefully. If they refuse, legal action is then filed asking the court to remove the unwanted party. The procedure varies based on your circumstances so it’s always best to seek advice from an experienced attorney who can evaluate your situation and offer solutions.

If you or a loved one are being taken advantage of by someone who refuses to leave your home, I can help. Contact my office today and we can review your situation and help you take back control and show your unwanted house guest the door.

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Landlord/TenantKatie Floyd
Why the DIY Will is A Really Bad Idea

Who doesn’t like to save a few bucks with a “do it yourself” or DIY project? However, some things are best left to the professionals.

There’s no shortage of DIY legal services on the Internet. You can even buy a basic fill in the blank legal form at your local office supply store. People ask me all the time if these documents work. For some people - maybe they do. But does that mean the DIY will is a good idea? I don’t think so. After all, most of us wouldn’t endorse the idea of DIY dentistry.

Here are just a few of the common problems I see with DIY Estate Planning:

1. It’s not custom to your needs.

DIY estate planning is based on filling in simple forms or answering a slate of generic questions. By their very nature they can’t take into account your specific situation, family structure, complexities or concerns. One of the most important pieces of my job is the client interview where I learn about my clients, can ask follow-up questions and dig deeper about their needs and concerns.

2. They don’t always ask the right questions.

How many times is the answer to a question “it depends” or “that’s complicated.” DIY estate planning solutions don’t allow for further explanation. Many of these forms don’t take in to consideration joint ownership of assets, beneficiary designations, or distinguish between probate vs. non-probate assets. A trained professional can.

3. Unintended consequences.

Many of the DIY estate plans that are created by these form sites and programs create plans that are not what the creator intended. Unfortunately, this isn’t learned until years (hopefully decades) later when the estate is probated. Probate attorneys spend a lot of time, and a lot of their client’s money, trying to fix the unintended consequences created by the DIY estate planner.

4. Some aren’t effective at all.

When a person creates their own estate plan using a form or an online tool they aren’t aware of their specific state’s laws or requirements. Florida has rules regarding elective share, support for minor children and requirements of a valid will. Many times we find a DIY estate plan that is invalid in whole or part for failure to follow state law or formalities.

5. Provides a false sense of security.

People create an estate plan because they want to protect their family and plan for the future. That’s an admirable goal. Unfortunately, using an online service or form only creates a false sense of security and may actually do more harm than good.

6. It just doesn’t compare.

Online services try to entice users by saying they can save significant money compared to the cost of hiring an attorney. But it’s really not an apples-to-apples comparison. Online services and forms can’t give legal advice, can’t customize a document to your specific needs, and can’t tell you when you’re making a mistake.

No one likes talking to an attorney and thinking about their own mortality. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the best gifts you can give your family. If you’re going to go to the time and effort to prepare an estate plan, it pays to get it done right. When you’re ready to get started, or if you want to fix that DIY project you did a while ago, we can help.

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Estate PlanningKatie Floyd