By Cassandre Juste
No landlord likes having to file for eviction (or be forced to take a tenant to court for any reason), but it is sometimes a reality of property management. When that time comes, legal documentation matters, and one Florida landlord learned this lesson the hard way.
The landlord filed an eviction case in November 2012 and included the lease agreement in the file. Throughout the hearing the landlord continued to argue that the tenant had breached a particular clause of the lease agreement. When the tenant’s counsel provided the tenant’s copy of the lease, it was revealed that the rental agreement was expired and the tenant’s copy of the document had a different termination date on it.
After an intense round of questioning by the judge, the landlord finally admitted to altering the lease document he submitted to the court. When asked what his reasoning for forging court documents was, the landlord explained that he “was a retired law enforcement officer who had served for 30 years in that capacity.” He went on to explain that in his career as a police officer he became very familiar with the court system and he has testified in court numerous times. The judge was stunned that someone with three decades worth of law enforcement knowledge would have the bad judgment to falsify court documents – and then lie about it.
Appalled, the judge found that the landlord was in violation of Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure as well as several Florida Statutes and sentenced the landlord to thirty days in prison. Landlords beware: legal documentation matters, and the only act worse than appearing in court with illegal documents is presenting falsified documents.