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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill to make it easier to evict tenants moves forward, despite sheriffs' opposition



A measure aimed at speeding up tenant evictions in Miami-Dade moved through the Florida Senate Community Affairs panel Monday, but not after opponents said the bill is unnecessary.

Senate Bill 426, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, would allow private process servers to deliver tenants the final order evicting them from their homes. Tenants would then have 24 hours to leave their homes. Evictions would still be supervised by the local sheriff's department.

The proposed legislation is targeted at Miami-Dade, where a backlog of evictions has reportedly led to cases where it has taken more than 30 days for a final eviction order to be processed and delivered.

The problem, the Florida Sheriffs Association said, is that that is not the case anywhere else -- and even in Miami-Dade, the typical turnaround time is not that long.

"It really is a bill seeking a problem," said the FSA's Frank Messersmith.

He enumerated problems with the bill, including that bringing in private servers would delay eviction orders further and that, because law enforcement would no longer be responsible for delivering the orders, they could not guarantee that they would be correctly posted. That could open up sherriff's departments to liability.

And delivering eviction orders can be dangerous, sherriffs and Florida Legal Services said.

The committee moved the bill forward with a unanimous vote, albeit with Latvala saying he would be open to tweaks.

[Last modified: Monday, March 28, 2011 9:34pm]


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