Representative Pringle has introduced HB65 in the 2020 legislative session, to clarify the procedure necessary to serve lawsuit papers in a residential eviction.
Currently, the law says “A copy of the notice shall be personally served upon the defendant. If the sheriff or constable is unable to serve the defendant personally, service may be had by delivering the notice to any person who is sui juris residing on the premises, or if after reasonable effort no person is found residing on the premises, by posting a copy of the notice on the door of the premises….” The posting on the door is called “nail and mail service” or “post and mail service” and eliminates the need to actually find the tenant and hand them the lawsuit papers.
The new law adds the words “at the premises” so it would say “shall be personally served upon the defendant at the premises.” It also deletes the words “after reasonable effort” so the new version would say, “if no person is found residing…” That avoids all the issues of people being able to argue in court about whether the process server made reasonable effort or not. In other words, one stop does it all. If nobody is home, then straight to nail and mail service instead of multiple trips to make “reasonable effort” that “no person is found residing on the premises…”
I think this is a good change. If you agree, contact Representative Pringle at email@example.com and tell him about your support. Be sure to mention where you live, so he can share your comments with your own elected official. (Sorry, I don’t seem to be able to create a clickable email link. Just copy and paste his address into your email message.)
Sarah Taggart, an evictions lawyer (website HERE) disagrees, and thinks the bill is a bad idea. She says that lawyers and judges understand the rules without the change. In her opinion, the change is not necessary. As a result, it might only focus attention and cause tenant lawyers to argue there IS a problem with the current law. Then it’s bad news if the bill does not pass. She thinks the bill might also encourage amendments that make things worse, not better. Sarah reminded me about the mobile home industry introducing a bill several years ago to shorten the default notice time period from 7 calendar days to only 3 calendar days. Consumer protection groups latched on to that and got an amendment passed that increased the time to 7 business days. If I can paraphrase Sarah’s opinion, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
What do you think?