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ScottyMacESQ
ScottyMacESQ, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 16151
Experience:  Licensed General Practice Attorney, Texas
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We have rental property in Florida that has been neglected

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We have rental property in Florida that has been neglected by our management company. They recognize it, and are telling my that I am their "first priority" to get our house back into shape. There is a renter in the house now. However, I have not received any calls back, nor have I received any sort of pictures of the house that I requested many times. I want to sue for repairs that I have paid for, and all management fees for the entire year. Do I need a Florida lawyer or is it possible to sue without one?

ScottyMacESQ :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacESQ :

How much would be the amount that you would be suing for?

ScottyMacESQ :

Also, do you have a written contract that specifies that the winner will receive attorneys fees and costs?

Customer:

I am just starting this process, so I am unsure of the amount. I would like to keep it in the small claims range though, which I think is $10,000? As far as a contract goes, no...I have not written anything because I am still deciding how difficult this all will be. I'm not even sure what the contract should say in it, or who to ask in the processing of such things.

ScottyMacESQ :

The small claims limit in Florida is $5,000, but if the amount is lower than that, you can still sue, or you can voluntarily limit your claim to that amount. If it's right on the line, I would suggest small claims court, since it is far easier to bring a case and win there.

ScottyMacESQ :

Now can you tell me if you have the property in a limited liability organization (LLC, LLP, corporation)?

ScottyMacESQ :

Or do you own it in your own name and operate it as a sole proprietor?

Customer:

My husband and I own the property.

ScottyMacESQ :

In your own names, correct?

Customer:

Yes

ScottyMacESQ :

I just wanted to make sure, because if you owned it as an LLC, LLP, corporation, etc... then you would have to use an attorney. Since you own it in your own name, you can still sue in your own name without one.

ScottyMacESQ :

So yes, you can sue without an attorney.

ScottyMacESQ :

But to sue in a court of general jurisdiction (non small claims) you would still be subject to the rules of evidence, pleading, procedure, etc... that lawyers are.

ScottyMacESQ :

And it would be easier for your opponent to get the case thrown out for some procedural matter (rather than heard on the merits)

ScottyMacESQ :

(that's why small claims court would be advisable, if possible)

ScottyMacESQ :

Now if you do represent yourself in regular court, I would highly suggest going to your local library and checking out a book on representing yourself in court.

ScottyMacESQ :

They typically go through the whole litigation process and show you potential pitfalls, etc...

ScottyMacESQ :

You can also typically find legal forms to bring lawsuits, etc... at your library. Ask the librarian if they have access to an online database of legal forms.

Customer:

Understood. So my next step is to send them a letter stating what I want, and that is all? Should I tell them my intentions before the letter is written, or do I just send it? I'm just not sure what the protocol is since we are still working with them and have not changed companies. They know they are in the wrong as well...also, do I send the letter certified?

ScottyMacESQ :

You could absolutely send a demand letter. Send a demand letter demanding payment within 30 days, otherwise you will pursue legal action against them, seeking that amount plus any additional damages as allowed by law. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested, as well as a copy sent regular mail. Keep a copy for yourself, as well as the return receipt number so that you can show the court that you made a demand for that amount.

ScottyMacESQ :

You should be specific as to your complaint, telling them the evidence, the harm that resulted as a direct, foreseeable consequence of their actions, and what they can do to make you whole.

ScottyMacESQ :

Certified letters help make it "official" to them, in that this is something that you're serious about.

ScottyMacESQ :

It's not a legal requirement, but rather more for a psychological effect.

Customer:

Ah...yes. My husband is an army officer so I was going to have JAG do a letter for me. That would be pretty scary I think. Sounds pretty straight forward. That's what I needed. Thank you.

ScottyMacESQ :

My pleasure! If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

Customer:

Thanks I will!

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