A property owner generally does not need an attorney to file an eviction suit, or to represent her in court. Florida law allows agents of the landlord, such as a real estate agent or a property manager, to file simple suits for eviction. These agents are limited to filing the complaint for possession only. If damages are being sought, or if the tenant contests the case, the landlord must represent himself or retain an attorney. Likewise, if a hearing or other pleadings are required, the landlord must do it herself or hire an attorney.
A corporation cannot represent itself in court. If the landlord is a corporation, LLC, or some other entity, the landlord will need an attorney to file an eviction suit, for other than possession, on his behalf. If a court hearing is required, only an attorney may represent the corporation. Many owners are unaware of this rule and end up having their suits dismissed and paying their tenant’s attorney fees. The bottom line is that if the lease lists a corporation as the landlord, the owner must get an attorney to represent the corporation.
Some tenant attorneys will take cases when they realize that the landlord’s court filings are technically deficient. If the tenant gets an attorney, the landlord should seriously consider getting an attorney as well. An experienced attorney with reasonable fees could mean the difference between losing a case and paying the tenant’s attorney fees, and getting the tenant evicted in a timely manner. All landlords should weigh the pros and cons of proceeding without an attorney.