TAMPA — With the Republican National Convention coming and Tropical Storm Isaac right behind, who has time for evictions?
Strapped for manpower, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies next week will temporarily stop serving notices of foreclosures and evictions.
For distressed residents in Tampa and across the county, that could mean an extra week of breathing room.
Hillsborough's 2,500 deputies, sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said, will already have a heck of a to-do list, staffing the convention and dealing with any havoc that blows in from the looming tropical storm.
Posting eviction notices? "That's like worrying about Pluto right now," McKinnon said. "It'd be silly … if we've got traffic gridlock, traffic lights out, trees down everywhere, and we're out serving evictions."
Amid Florida's foreclosure crisis, that could prove a welcome reprieve for the three or four homes a day Hillsborough deputies visit with a notice to evict.
Deputies will hold off on posting the notices, given over by landlords or banks, effectively stopping the clock for the lengthy eviction or foreclosure process. Full evictions, where property is removed, will also be halted.
The eviction detente could serve as a peculiar footnote among the convention's likely speeches on the economy and housing bust.
Tampa Bay's housing market, though showing signs of recovery, has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. More than 450 Hillsborough housing units were given notice of a foreclosure sale last month, RealtyTrac data shows. More than 600 units were repossessed by a bank.
Residents on the other side of the bay will have no such luck. Pinellas sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said it would be "business as usual" for deputies serving eviction notices.
Not everyone in Hillsborough is happy about the week off. In a Lutz gated community called Heritage Harbor, a landlord has sparred with a renter who refuses to leave as agreed.
If the renter doesn't move out by next week, real estate agent Steve Capen said, the seller could lose out on a deal for his home and a $10,000 incentive from the bank.
A process server delivered a notice Thursday. But so far, Capen said, the renter has stayed put.
"Legally, he's got to be out," Capen said. "But there will be no one there to make him get out."
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.