In a prior post, I expressed my dissatisfaction with how the Russell County, Alabama Eviction court system operates. We have been fortunate that we don’t file often but it is a pain to deal with when we do. First off, the clerks don’t seem to care much. While they are polite, it seems like you to have be extra nice to just have them do their jobs. I often get the feeling if you are not extra nice to them, they can easily sabotage the process by deliberately slowing the already slow process down. I often feel they have the people they serve held hostage administratively.
I understand that we have to give our tenants 7-days to respond. But when that period is over, we often have to wait another 2 weeks to get a court date. For the average person and the clerks, it is not a big deal. But from my point of view, that is nearly another half a month of “free rent” that the tenants get while we are waiting for court. Of course, no one gives a second thought of our pain that we have to continue paying the underlying mortgages on those rental properties on time. The deadbeat tenants get to pay whenever they feel like with no regard to the Landlord’s ongoing challenge to remain profitable.
Our past experiences with Judge Bellamy have been positive and fair but it seems like there is no back up for him. If he is out of town, out on business, has personal issues, or whatever, all the Landlords and Property Managers have to pay for all the delays. I simply don’t understand why there is another judge to help support Judge Bellamy during his absence. In Muscogee County (Columbus, GA) Judge Denson backs up Judge Turner. I surmise Russell County does what it does for budgetary reasons. Be that as it may, all it does is reinforce my thoughts that newer real estate investors should avoid Alabama and simply not invest in Alabama or Russell County. Being a Landlord in Russell County, Alabama is financially punishing and often a thankless job.
My business partner, Wes Weaver, and I are looking forward to selling off our Alabama properties after the real estate market turns around. IN the meantime, we will simply grit our teeth. We go into the Russell County, AL courthouse and be as pleasant as possible while knowing we will be put through an inefficient and slow system. As I said before, the only saving grace is that our past experiences have shown Judge Bellamy to be a reasonable judge.
There was a period of time years ago when getting a court date was quicker. But that seems to have changed. Either that or we have been unlucky enough to get caught while Judge Bellamy’s schedule is overloaded or he is unavailable.
One of the reasons I blog about this is that I believe complaining to them directly does not do any good as most of the people there don’t really seem to care much. As I said, they are polite but they seem to take a minimalist approach to helping people. However, when enough people share a common plight and act upon, maybe changes will happen. Or if investors simply stop buying investment property in Russell County and start selling them off, they might notice that rental housing is becoming more scarce and the property values drop. With fewer investors and Landlords, there will be less evictions to deal with.
Phenix City hates being the ugly step-child to Columbus, GA. But part of the reason is the way Alabama and Russell County does things. We pay higher taxes and more for housing in Columbus, GA but yet more people prefer it because there is just less of “deadbeat factor” that exists on the Alabama side.