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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 118765
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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I have recd a summons , suing me in a tampa fl. court for an

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I have recd a summons , suing me in a tampa fl. court for an unpaid bill ($114.64) . I live in ohio , but I have a condo in Tamp fl. I rent the unit and have not been there for over a year. the collection agent/lawyer claims that the bill was sent to my condo sveral times. I never got it. I pay all my bills and HOA fees on time ,by auto draft from a local fl bank. My credit is 800. I pay my bills. The suit is to foreclose on my condo. I called tha HOA and they said I had to talk to the lawyer. The lawer"s girl said the lawyer would not talk but I coud write ...or settle. the bill is now $1860. If i have to hire a lawyer it is money. if I have to go to Florida . more money. I have about 10 more days to answer the summons and I intend to send a letter to the Clerk of courts . I still do not have the bill. i do not know what the bill is for? what do I do?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
You are first going to have to file a written answer to the suit in order to stop them from getting a default judgment against you. To answer this suit yourself if you cannot find an attorney, you need to copy the heading on the Complaint (court name/case name/case number). Title it "Answer." Then you need to state you are the respondent, your name, and that you are appearing to represent yourself and answering the petition. Then you number every response to correspond with the numbers on the petition. You then answer each one with "Admit" "Deny" or "Insufficient information to find a reasonable belief as to the truth of the matter asserted and leave petitioner to her proof thereof (use this for anything they claim you owe)." Once you have answered each numbered paragraph then you can put "Defenses" and list any defenses you have to her petition. Then if you have any counterclaims to make, you can make them after your defenses under the title Counterclaim and to do that you would copy the same layout that the initial petition you received has and just change each numbered paragraph to reflect your facts and allegations.

Once you complete that you sign the response, you have it notarized. Under that put "Certificate of Service" and put the name/address of her attorney where you will be mailing a copy and the date you mail it and sign that.

Then file the original and one copy with the clerk of court and ask the clerk to stamp one copy to give back to you as proof of service. Mail one copy to the other party's attorney.

Once you do this then you can begin negotiating settlement with the attorney in writing.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I believe that in al the paperwork I signed ,I did agree to pay reasonable collection costs. I am pretty sure that there really is some assesment or something for the $114. My only defense is that i didi not get the bill. I would guess that my tenant didi not forward it or the post office returned it... I dont know what happened, only that i dont have any bill. This" bill collector ' was able to find me to sue me..The tax people know where i am. My local HOA knows how to get me. If the Master HOA would have asked my hoa the could have found me. Any body with internet access could have found me. NO. the bill collector is bulling me and running the bill up rather than take the cheap way out. Is that a defense? ... or do I owe the $1840? If the court sees the bill is $114 will they order m to pay $1840? would a court think that is reasomnable if I never got the bill?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
It would only be mitigating circumstances, but they are only liable to notify you at the mailing address you provided to them. If you did not provide your out of state address to them to send your bills and all bills went to the condo address, then this would not help you much. You still need to answer the suit to stop them from getting a default judgment, then you can try to negotiate with them, but if you signed the contracts that you would pay reasonable collection fees your argument is that 1600 is not reasonable to collect $114 and you have a good chance of getting that amount reduced at least. Once you answer the suit, offer them 50% of what they are asking to settle this matter and make the offer in writing to them.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
After thinking about this, I realize that I have never changed my address, When i purchased this unit I maintained my home mailing address in ohio. whenever I was in Florida I had myohio home mail forwarded to my office in ohio. They are acting like I did not inform them that i was not at my Florida address. I have never been at my florida address. Astime passed I routed almost all bills to my ohio Office. Occassionally some one didnt get the forwarding and mail comes to my house. That is fine....I lstill live there and pick up the mostly junk mail every day. Since buyimg condo 5 years ago I have done nothing to change the mailling address other than to forward the mail from my house in ohio to my office in ohio. As i said, all the condo bills are pulled from my checking account. Under that pLan, I never missed apayment before, Not at my condo , or at the 3 other units I have ( with other associations.) Something , changed but I didnt change it. I think it is possible THEY CHANGED BANKS AND COULD NO LONGER GET THE AUTO DRAW. They then may have sent notice to my condo and that did not work either. But the condo was never my mailing address.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
So, based on this you have grounds to argue that you should not have to pay the attorney's fees, since they failed to send any proper notice of the debt, yet they were able to find you to file suit which shows they knew where to locate you. This would be the basis for your defense in the suit to not have to pay the attorney's fees.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Ifthe laywer will not negotiate with me , is there any way i can handle this without having to go to florida in person, and without hiring a florida attorney.? can I ask the court to determine a reasonable settlement without having to accept the bill collectors request for $1840, and can I do that from Ohio
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
If the lawyer will not negotiate this, then unfortunately you only have the two options you want to avoid, either going there and filing suit or hiring a FL attorney to represent you. You cannot just ask the court to determine a reasonable amount from OH, unfortunately.
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