Now that I have just finished my rant on Russell County, Alabama, I guess I will rant a bit about the Lee County, Alabama court system. The Lee County, Alabama courts and offices are in the nice Justice Building in Opelika, AL. It is a healthy 45-minute haul for us to file an eviction from Columbus, GA despite the fact that most of our rental homes in Lee County are in Phenix City and only 20-30 minutes away from Columbus, GA.
We have also had the good fortune to not have to often file evictions (unlawful detainers) in Lee County, Alabama. In fact, we have never been in front of a judge ever. On prior unlawful detainers we filed, our tenants would simply not answer or show up to court and so we win by default judgement. Quite frankly, we love winning our cases that way.
However, I recently filed a lawsuit against a non-paying tenant that had moved out last year and fled the local area. It would be over 6 months later we would have her process served in Mauk, Georgia. IN any case, I received a call yesterday by a clerk from Judge Russell Bush’s office confirming the location of the rental property in dispute. I told her the address and she said that the case was in the correct jurisdiction and she would set a court date.
She casually mentioned that the July 10th date was full so she had to schedule us to the next available date of August 7, 2008. I thought to myself that sounded strange and I asked the clerk that Small Claims only holds court once a month? She said yes. I was astounded that we had to wait an entire month for the next date.
To be fair, I don’t regard our small claims case as a higher priority to any eviction (unlawful detainer) we might file. The difference is that we already have possession of our property back from our deadbeat tenants. Once they are out, we can take a more leisurely pace to going after the “runaway” deadbeat tenant. But to wait a whole month for the next small claims court date simply amazed me.
This yet another strike against the Alabama landlords and real estate investors because of how slow the court system seems to move in relation to other cities and jurisdictions I am familiar with.
We recently had to make that long journey but from Fort Benning. To add insult to injury we filed for an eviction on Monday the 19th only to get an email from our deadbeat renter informing us that they had moved out on the 15th. Now keep in mind we’d been by the house a few times but noticed several of their things still on the property and with all the blinds closed could not tell anyone had moved anything out of the house. We are at a loss as to where to go from here. Can we file a judgement against her now for the two months rent she didn’t pay or do we have to wait a certain amount of time after filing the eviction? We have had some really bad tenants in the past but this time around rented to a Realtor thinking we’d have better luck….she has been the worst one yet!!