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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
Crime & Courts

Evictions are booming business for Tampa man


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TAMPA — Anthony Green has always had a taste for law and law enforcement.

He applied to become a state trooper at 19, but his application was rejected because he is blind in one eye from a fireworks accident.

He studied up on housing law decades ago when he helped evict people living on rental property his father owned. He later earned a paralegal degree.

It was while working as a paralegal at a Tampa law firm that Green began working on residential eviction cases and eventually started a part-time evictions business. The law firm asked him to work exclusively for them or take his business full-time.

Green chose his business, and he’s been in charge of Evictions Plus for 22 years.

“I love what I do,” Green said. “I don’t work for a living. I play a game. As long as I win the game, I’m happy.”

As more and more former homeowners became renters after the housing bust and recession, the eviction business has stayed steady. The number of evictions filed with the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court has ranged from 10,000 to more than 13,000 for each of the last six years.

While plenty of businesses will handle evictions, Green is one of a relatively small number of Hillsborough County companies that only handle evictions.

Green averages about 45 evictions a month. He’s done as many as 75 in one month. He’s done 19 in one day.

“That’s hustling,” Green said. “That’s a lot of work.”

Green says the business mostly involves preparing the proper paperwork, filing it with the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court and delivering a copy to the tenant.

Green, who is a certified process server in Hillsborough County, presents the eviction lawsuit by giving it to tenants or placing it on their door if no one answers.

“We are not attorneys and can’t represent them in court,” said Green, who can process an eviction anywhere in the state. “We are strictly processing the information. We do all the running around and processing for them (the landlord). We are saving them the headache of waiting in line.”

The eviction process from beginning to end can take two and a half weeks in Hillsborough County, Green said. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office serves the final 24-hour eviction notice -- known as the writ of possession -- and returns to the home after 24 hours to make certain the eviction has gone through. Green is on scene every step of the way looking out for his client’s best interest.

“The No. 1 problem for evictions is communication,” Green said. “There is a lack of communication between the landlord and the tenant. That is why they hire us.”

By the time Green has filed the paperwork and contacted the tenant, the tenant is aware there’s a problem, Green said. The landlord has contacted the tenant, served them with notices and told them eviction is a possibility.

Often, the tenant is purposely buying time while wasting the landlord’s time and money, Green said.

“The misnomer is that process servers are bad, evil people bringing them (the tenant) bad news,” Green said. “We’re not. We’re providing them information they need to know. If they choose to ignore it, that’s their problem.”

It’s unusual for his eviction company to have a conflict with a tenant, Green said. The tension, he says, is between the landlord and the tenant. Green prefers that a landlord not show up to the home once he’s been hired.

“Ninety percent of the people we evict shake our hands and thank us when we’re done,” Green said. “Because I treat them with the same respect I treat everybody.”

Steve Choate has hired Green to handle evictions on Hillsborough County property he owns.

Choate, who lives near Key West, doesn’t like the tension that can escalate during an eviction process. He says he tries to develop relationships with his tenants, visiting them regularly and bringing them gifts during the holidays.

When someone isn’t paying rent, though, he turns to Green.

“I don’t like feeling like the bad guy, even though it’s a business decision,” Choate said. “If I was too soft, I’d be broke. It wouldn’t be a good business decision.”

jpatino@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7659

Twitter: @jpatinoTBO

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