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Collecting a judgment in Florida


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Florida -

Hi all, I possess a judgment against my former landlord. The case involved my security deposit - and I won nearly $3000. I would like to collect it now. The case was won by default in early 2007. I didn't pursue collections as I had already laid out $2500 for a retainer, and he wanted another $2500 to collect it for me. I figured I could do it myself.

I have bank account numbers of where my rent checks were deposited, it is owned by the landlord, even though the owner of the property and the apartment complex name are different. I have marks on the back of my checks: landlord d/b/a apartment complex.

So I found: http://www.sunbiz.org/jlien_how_to.html and while it would be great to stand by and watch as the sheriff seized all the computers, the 50" sdtv, the office furniture and all that stuff - I'd rather just get my money.

How is collecting by bank levy different than this?

From what I understand I need to "certify" my judgment - and to do that I need to obtain a certified copy of the final judgment from the clerk, and get it to the county recorder, who will record it as a "certified final judgment". THe county automatically records all "Final Judgments", but not as "certified final judgments".

I have already obtained a judgment lien certificate, which is somehow different.

Obviously as I want to levy a bank account, I think I would just identify the account and bank to the sheriff? Is there a writ I need besides the writ of execution? How does this differ from a writ of garnishment?

Just confused - need some Florida love.

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You need to gather more info than just the account numbers. If the buildings are held in a Trust, you can't touch the accounts tied to them. They wouldn't belong to the landlord per se but the Trust under which they are organized. You'd have to sue the Trust for recovery. It's a pain in the butt but this is how many landlord protect the property and their interests in them.

Your first thing you would do is summon the landlord to court for an Asset Hearing. This is where the landlord would have to answer questions about where their money and other assets are located under oath. You grill them for all you need and then you can negotiate a structured settlement with them or walk back into the courtroom afterwards and ask for seizure of assets to cover the judgment.

If the landlord fails to show up for the hearing, you can file a rule to show cause (which is a bench warrant) asking the judge to send the Sheriff out to get the person and bring them to court to answer the questions.

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Hallelujah!!! Thanks Methuss!

"You'd have to sue the Trust for recovery"

I had wondered about this. I sued "xxxx Management" and the building is owned by "xxx xxx Apt Ltd partnership, etc"

"This is where the landlord would have to answer questions about where their money and other assets are located under oath."

Similar to a set of Interrogatories?

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A limited partnership means there are two or more owners. First contact the government agency in your State that handles incorporation and LLP filings. Find out who the partners are. Then go to the clerk of the court and issue summons to each of them to appear to disclose assets*. If the "partners" are trusts, you will have to track down the lawyer that set up the trusts and find out who the beneficiaries of those trusts are to summon them.

*There is an assumption here that you will first try to get them to pay outside of court proceedings and only drag them in front of a judge if they refuse to pay. If you have already taken that step, then by all means use the court to enforce the judgment.

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The names below are bogus.

Upon even further review - I was working from memory - its split in two. Half is owned by an LLC - Lets call it "XF IGF Jones Soda APT LLC % Paradise Tax Group" - and the other half is "XF IGF Jones Soda APT LLC % GWD Realty Advisors"

The entity I sued was the one that my lease agreement was with - XF Management Services, Inc. On my rent check which was made out to "Jones Soda Apartments" - it was deposited into an account at a major bank and the returned check says on the reverse "Pay to the Order of (Major Bank) - For Deposit Only XF Management Services XF IGF Jones Sodat Apartments LLC - <acct#> (sic)

I think the advice still applies about finding the right person to get the money from yes?

Yep, I've pretty much exhausted my options over the nearly 2 years now. The management company claims they were never served - I served the person named as "XF Management Services" Registered Agent, who was the same person from 99 - 12/2007. The service was proper (handled by my lawyer - who has a certificate of service). Interestingly - the Registered agent changed the next week to a completely different person (now a company that handles corporate registration and legal stuff). My guess is the VP realized they flubbed and the agent hadn't been right for years.

I tried to be amiable - I wrote a couple letters asking for the money. I called the office and managed to get a call back from a VP - they claim they never heard of it, wanted my lawyers info, etc. My lawyer forwarded everything about the case to him. I had won on a default.

His final position (in a letter to the lawyer)- "We were not served, I have no information about this suit, I would be glad to give you the deposit if you'll drop the attorney's fees. Note that I have damages exceeding the deposit and would of course pursue these damages".

(the damages are bogus, I have concrete evidence that those damages are from another unit.) I sent a letter after that explaining such, telling him about what really happened. Now any phone calls to him are not returned.

So it looks like its back to court. I think I might go ahead with retaining the lawyer again to collect. This is getting complicated.

However I do note that half the owner of the property (I'm guessing its half, I'm guessing the % is a divider) is the same as the entity that is on the check, and that the entity I sued, and the other entity on the check are the same.

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  • 3 months later...

OK so I found my own answer -

My judgment is not collectable.

My attorney filed suit against the only person he could - the person on the lease - lets call him AS Management out of Iowa. The owner of the property is an LLC set up to own the property- AB IGF Hidden Apartments. Checks are made out to the name of the apartment complex (say Hidden Shoals Apartments), who has a joint account with the AS Management. The LLC is the only person I could conceivably collect against as its a property owner. The AS Management is uncollectable as they don't have an account in FL. AB IGF Hidden Apartments cannot have a lien from this - they were uninvolved. AS Management also doesn't have a business presence in the state - they work through the Hidden Shoals Apartments front.

Hope this helps somebody.

I'm out so much money and I'm never going to see it.

My original attorney won't even collect cuz he knows how bad it is....

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So sue em again..under the correct name. It is unlikely the results would be different. They didn't return your deposit, you are entitled to get it back.

If you have a full accounting of your previous attempt to get your money back (security deposits belong to the tennant, not the landlord who must hold it in good faith) you may add that to the tab as collection costs; just like they would. The fact is they are playing a shell game to move around the target in order tomake it expensive for your to get your moeny back. That sort of subterfuge doesn't go over well with judges.

Now you have a VP's name and address. Serve him as agent for the business entity. As an officer of the company, he is a valid person to serve.

Also make sure you file a full complaint and provide documentation to your local Florida attorney general's office. If they have other records of victims, they may even take it up as a matter of consumer protection.

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The FLRCP outline the discovery process to aid in the collection of judgments.

http://www.floridabar.org/TFB/TFBResources.nsf/Attachments/10C69DF6FF15185085256B29004BF823/$FILE/Civil.pdf?OpenElement

RULE 1.560 DISCOVERY IN AID OF EXECUTION

RULE 1.570 ENFORCEMENT OF FINAL JUDGMENTS

I would get as much information as possible regarding businesses, property, bank accounts, stocks, holdings, limited liability corps., partnerships, self employment, and any other assets and business arrangements by starting with Interrogatories in Aid of Execution and then decide what your recourse would be if any.

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