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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