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Trouble tenant? 10 News to the rescue! | Real Estate

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Trouble tenant? 10 News to the rescue!
Real Estate
Trouble tenant? 10 News to the rescue!

SAFETY HARBOR, Florida - He thought a tenant who didn't write him checks would be his biggest headache.  But it turns out an eviction specialist who disappeared with his check was a bigger one.

Tom Brown owns a small apartment building near Downtown Safety Harbor and when one tenant stopped paying his rent in August, he went online and found Big Boy Evictions, a local company that charges to process eviction papers for you.  They were even featured in a 2008 story on 10 News.  The company charges a few hundred dollars more than the actual fees for the labor of going through the process.

But Brown says when owner Martin Barrett came and picked up his check for $460, he wasn't heard from again in weeks.

"I tried calling and his voicemail was full," said Brown.  "I had a sick feeling because someone who does good business doesn't let your voicemail get full."

Brown said he expected the entire eviction process to last just 14-21 days, but after a couple of weeks, he checked with Pinellas County and Big Boy Evictions never even filed any paperwork.

So after filing the papers himself, he called 10 News, who found out a number of other customers had filed similar complaints against Big Boy Evictions with local authorities.  Reached by phone, Barrett said some of his jobs "fell through the cracks" because the economy created so much work for his industry, approximately 50 eviction jobs per month.

"We had an influx and increase in the eviction business," Barrett said.  "So we outsourced some of our services to some other people...(and) some of the services weren't completed as promised."

10 News also found some of Barrett's other business ventures, including dabbling in real estate and product-pitching.

Barrett said all of his unhappy customers were refunded and he eliminated the outsourcing to get the company back on-track.  But when Brown's job was mentioned, he promised to refund his money the next morning.

Sure enough, Barrett stayed true to his word and delivered a cash refund to Brown the next morning.  The former client said he was "shocked and happy," but still advises other landlords to "educate yourself" because the eviction process is quicker - and potentially easier - if you fill the paperwork out yourself.

Connect with 10 News reporter Noah Pransky on Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky or Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky.



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