Is it Worth Pursuing Unpaid Rents?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Filing a Separate Count for Unpaid Rents in an Eviction Lawsuit

Landlord-tenant relationships are bound by contracts and Florida state laws, and sometimes disputes arise that necessitate legal action. One of the most common disputes centers around unpaid rents. When landlords in Central Florida decide to evict a tenant due to non-payment of rent, they are faced with a decision: Should they simply file for eviction or also include a separate count for the unpaid rents? Below, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of this decision, aiming to provide clarity to landlords considering their options.

Advantages of Filing a Separate Count for Unpaid Rents

  1. Clear Record of Debt: Including a separate count for unpaid rents creates a clear record of the debt owed. This formal documentation can prove invaluable in future legal proceedings, dealings with credit agencies, or if the tenant ever wishes to clear their name.
  2. Potential for Full Compensation: Pursuing unpaid rents alongside eviction increases the likelihood of landlords recovering what they’re owed. An eviction may remove the tenant, but it doesn’t guarantee payment. By also suing for the unpaid rents, the landlord can secure a judgment that can be used to garnish wages, levy bank accounts, or place liens on the tenant’s personal property.
  3. Incentive for Settlement: The threat of an additional lawsuit may incentivize the tenant to negotiate a settlement. They may be more willing to pay off their debts, or at least a portion of them, to avoid further legal action.
  4. Detailed Financial Review: Filing a separate count for unpaid rents allows for a thorough review of the tenant’s financial history. It might reveal other unpaid dues or help establish a pattern of non-payment, strengthening the landlord’s case.

Disadvantages of Filing a Separate Count for Unpaid Rents

When pursuing an eviction lawsuit in Central Florida, adding a separate count for unpaid rents can introduce complexities. Let’s delve deeper into the disadvantages:

  1. Increased Legal Costs:
    • Attorney Fees: Pursuing additional counts usually means more work for the attorney. They’ll need to prepare more documentation, possibly conduct discovery, and spend more time in court. All of this equates to a higher fee over simply filing the eviction.
    • Court Costs: The mere act of filing a lawsuit has associated fees, and these are higher when also pursuing unpaid rents.
    • Unpredictable Expenses: If the tenant decides to fight the unpaid rent claim, landlords might find themselves bearing costs for depositions, expert witnesses, or other unforeseen litigation expenses.
  2. Lengthier Court Proceedings:
    • Multiple Hearings: Instead of a streamlined eviction process, landlords might find themselves attending several hearings, especially if the tenant disputes the amount claimed.
    • Potential Delays: Tenants, aware of the longer timeframe, might use the separate count to buy themselves more time in the property, further delaying the landlord’s ability to rent to a paying tenant.
  3. Complications in Case Presentation:
    • Burden of Proof: While the burden of proving non-payment in an eviction is relatively straightforward, detailing exact owed amounts might require meticulous record-keeping, especially if the unpaid rents span several months or more.
    • Challenging Claims: Tenants might dispute specific charges or fees, requiring landlords to prove the validity of every claimed amount.
  4. Potential for Counterclaims:
    • Claims of Disrepair: Tenants might argue that they withheld rent due to the landlord’s failure to make necessary repairs or maintain the property in a livable condition.
    • Lease Breaches: The tenant might allege that the landlord violated terms of the lease, justifying non-payment. These claims, even if untrue, can divert the court’s attention and elongate proceedings.
    • Retaliation Claims: If recent disputes occurred, tenants might argue that the eviction and claim for unpaid rents are retaliatory acts, which are prohibited under Florida law.
  5. Difficulty in Collection (The Most Important Consideration):
    • Asset Examination: Are the the tenants even collectable? Even with a judgment in hand, landlords might need to invest time and resources to determine if the tenant has any collectible assets. The judgement is worth no more than the paper its printed on if the tenant has no assets or money to be able to pay the judgment amount.
    • Bankruptcy Complications: If a tenant files for bankruptcy, the landlord’s claim might be discharged or considerably delayed.
    • Additional Legal Action: Collecting might require further legal actions, such as wage garnishments or property liens, each with its associated costs and uncertainties.

Morey Law Firm, P.A.: Your Central Florida Eviction Lawyers

While pursuing unpaid rents seems like a logical step when evicting a non-paying tenant, the path isn’t always straightforward. The added complexities, potential costs, and uncertainties make it imperative for landlords in Central Florida to consult with seasoned legal professionals. Understanding the depth of these disadvantages ensures that landlords can make decisions that are both informed and beneficial to their interests.

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