CLERK OF COURT & COMPTROLLER

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA

County Civil

The County Civil Department maintains the records and documentation for cases involving eviction law suits, small claims and other civil law suits less than $15,000 which include car repair disputes, release of personal property and payment information for a judgment.

County Civil FAQs

What are my options for obtaining customer service from the Clerk's office?

Mail. P.O. Box 3360, Tampa, FL 33601-3360
Email: Contact us
Phone: (813) 276-8100
In person: Downtown Tampa, Plant CityBrandon, Ruskin (Southshore). See wait times

How do I view a County Civil court file?

Electronic viewing of many court records, indexes and dockets as well as non-confidential document images is currently available on our Hillsborough Online Viewing of Electronic Records (HOVER) site, as authorized by the Florida Supreme Court. Pursuant to Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, access to all electronic and other court records shall be governed by the Standards for Access to Electronic Court Records and Access Security Matrix.

If you are authorized under Florida Rules of Judicial Administration to view a court file but are unable to view it online and/or you need a copy, you may view or pick up a copy of the file at our Tampa Edgecomb or Plant City locations. To allow adequate time for redaction processing, it may take four business days for your file to be available for on-site viewing and/or pick-up. We suggest that you pre-order the file for onsite viewing or pick-up by completing the Order Form for County Civil files.

Can I file a lawsuit to recover money owed to me?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit. If the amount you are attempting to recover is less than $5,000, your case will be considered a Small Claims Case. These cases are handled differently than cases over $5,000 but less than $15,000. In a Small Claims case, the clerk can assist you in the filing of the case. Once the case is filed, a pre-trial hearing is scheduled within 50 days of filing. At the pre-trial hearing the Judge may hear your case and render a decision or the Judge may refer the case to Mediation to be resolved. To begin the filing process, the plaintiff (the party that is bringing the lawsuit) would need to complete paperwork with information and facts about the case. A summons directed to the defendant (the party that you feel owes you the money) is issued by the clerk. The complaint and summons is then served on the defendant either by Certified Mail, Sheriff or Process Server. Once service is complete the case can be heard at the Pre-trial hearing.

Can I file a case for someone else or in someone else's behalf?

The party who the money is owed to must file the case. A parent or guardian may file on behalf of a minor. Only an attorney can file a case on someone else's behalf.

Can an adult sue a minor? Can a minor sue an adult?

A minor must be represented as either a Plaintiff or Defendant by their parent, legal guardian, or an attorney, unless the minor is married.

Someone hit my car, how can I sue their insurance company for my repair bills?

The statute states that you sue the owner and driver of the vehicle, not their insurance company. It would be the responsibility of the owner to bring in their insurance company.

I bought a car and they won't give me a title, how do I get a title?

You can file a case in the County Court, if the car is valued less than $15,000, requesting the Judge to declare you the owner of the car. You would take a certified copy of the Order to the Tag Department to begin the process of issuing a Title. The Clerk's Office does not provide forms for this type of case. You may need to seek legal advice.


How can I get my car back when I have a payment dispute with the repair shop over the bill?

F.S. 559.917  allows the owner or customer to have the vehicle released by depositing the amount of the bill into the Court Registry. The final bill or notice of sale and proposed lien are documents required as proof of the amount to be paid. The amount of the bill claimed by the repair shop must be brought to the County Civil Department in the form of cash, cashiers’ check, money order or attorney trust account check. The department will prepare a certificate to have the vehicle released from the repair shop. There is a fee associated with preparing this paper work and it must be paid at the time the money is deposited with the Clerk for the release of vehicle. The disputed funds will be held in the Court Registry for 60 days. During that time the repair shop has the opportunity to file a lawsuit to recover the amount deposited. If a lawsuit is not filed in 60 days, the amount deposited into the Court Registry will be released to the person who made the deposit less the statutory registry fees. 

   

How can I get my car released when it has been towed without my permission and the towing company is holding my car for towing and storage fees?

F.S. 713.78  states that the owner or lien holder can file a lawsuit to have the Court determine if the property was wrongfully taken or withheld. Upon the filing of the lawsuit the owner or lien holder can have the vehicle released by depositing the amount of the bill into the Court Registry. The final bill or notice of sale and proposed lien are documents required as the proof of the amount to be deposited into the court registry.   The lawsuit may be filed in the County Civil Department if the value of the vehicle is less than $15,000. You must provide a final bill with the charges being claimed and present cash, cashier’s check, money order, attorney trust account check or surety bond in the amount of the final bill for deposit into the Court Registry. A court registry fee, based on the amount of the deposit, is charged at the time of the deposit. The clerk will prepare a Certificate of Bond Filed, which will authorize the owner or lien holder to pick up the property being held. There is a charge for preparing this paper work. The fee for filing the lawsuit is in addition to the fees listed above. This statute applies to any mobile item that is mounted on wheels and does not have to be motorized. The deposited money is held in the Registry of the Court until the case is ruled on by a judge and a court order directing the Clerk to release the money less the statutory fees is signed by the judge in the case. 

   

How do I get my personal property out of the repair shop when I do not agree with the amount of the bill?

F.S. 713.76  allows the owner, customer, or any person that has an interest in the property including an attorney to have the property released to them. To have the property released, you must come to the Clerk’s office and present a final bill and payment in the form of cash, cashier’s check, attorney trust account check, or surety bond for deposit into the Court Registry. The payment must also include the statutory fee charged by the Clerk. The amount deposited is held in the Court Registry for one year and the repair shop has the opportunity to file a lawsuit to claim the money during that time. After one year, the person who placed the deposit into the Registry must complete an Application for Return of Bond Posted to Release Lien Against Personal Property to ask to have the deposit returned to them. A notice is sent to the Lienor/Repair shop giving them 15 days to respond to the request to release the amount on deposit with the Clerk. If no response is received, the Clerk will release the deposit less the statutory fee to the person who placed the funds into the Registry. F.S. 713.76  applies to any personal property that is not specifically mentioned in any other statute. It does not apply to Aircraft liens.

How can I find out who the proper party is to sue if the company is not listed with the Secretary of State in Tallahassee?

File your case with the best information that you have, when the case comes to court additional information may be presented at the hearing.


What happens at a pretrial hearing and what is a pretrial hearing?

A Pretrial hearing is held only on Small Claims cases (under $5,000.00). The purpose of the pretrial is to briefly discuss the issues and determine if the case can be settled at that time, rescheduled for a trial at a later date, or referred to Mediation.


How does Mediation work?

The Judge will refer a case to Mediation; a mediator will listen to both sides of the case to see if it can be resolved. If you were ordered by the Judge to go to Mediation, you MUST attend or further court actions may occur for not attending. If Mediation cannot resolve the case, it may be referred back to the Judge for final hearing.


Can I go to Mediation if I have not filed a lawsuit?

Yes. Mediation and Diversion Services provides a Community Mediation Service in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. This service may only be used prior to filing a case in a court. If you have previously filed a lawsuit, mediation may still be ordered by the Court and fees may be assessed. Community Mediation is located in Room 208 in the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse. You may call 813-272-5642 for further information.

Why wasn't I notified that I have a judgment against me?

When a judgment is signed, copies of the judgment are mailed out to all parties in the case at the last known address in the court file. If you have moved and did not notify the court of your current address, you may not receive notification of the judgment.


What is the interest rate for judgments?

Interest is charged on all judgments at a rate determined by the Florida Department of Financial Services. Florida Statute 55.03(1) requires the Chief Financial Officer, on December 1 of each year beginning in 1994, to set the rate of interest that shall be payable on judgments and decrees for the year beginning the following January 1.

How can I pay off a judgment?

If you want to pay the judgment you are required to pay the full amount of the judgment plus interest at the legal rate from the date the judgment was signed. The amount would be paid to the Plaintiff or their attorney. If the Plaintiff or their attorney cannot be located, you can deposit the full amount into the Court Registry and the Clerk will prepare a Satisfaction of Judgment upon payment of the statutory clerk's fees.


How long will my driver’s license be revoked due to a judgment?

The State of Florida Bureau of Financial Responsibility handles the revoking of driver’s licenses resulting from a judgment. You can contact Financial Responsibility by calling 850-488-7135.


How can I evict my son, daughter, girlfriend etc. from my house that I am living in?

Florida Statute 82  outlines Unlawful Detainers which are county court lawsuits requesting that another person be ordered to leave your property, where there is no agreement to pay rent either verbally or in writing.  The Unlawful Detainer Packet. 

   

Can I evict tenants from my property if they have children?

Yes. Chapter 83  of the Florida Statutes covers both residential and non-residential evictions. Depending on the situation and the type of agreements you have with the tenant, you will need to give a notice to the tenant that complies with statute regarding notice. When the notice has been given and the time period has expired, an eviction lawsuit can be filed to have the tenant vacate the rental property. The owner or landlord will need to complete paperwork and the clerk will issue a summons to be served on the tenant. The summons gives the tenant specific instructions on how to proceed with the lawsuit.

Can my landlord evict me when there are so many repairs that need to be made?

The landlord and tenant have obligations set out in F.S. 83.51 and 83.52.

I am being evicted and I was told I have to be out tomorrow, is this true?

After a judgment is signed and a writ of possession is issued and served on the tenant, the tenant has 24 hours to vacate unless the Judge stays the eviction proceedings. The sheriff will authorize the landlord to remove all personal belongings from the house after the 24 hours and give possession of the property back to the landlord.

Can I pay rent into the Court Registry if the landlord has not filed an eviction yet?

No. An eviction lawsuit must be filed before the Clerk can deposit money into the Court Registry.

When can I dispose of property left by a tenant that has moved?

To protect yourself from any further legal action, the landlord should file a formal eviction. When the sheriff serves the final paperwork (Writ of Possession) on the tenant, the landlord is then authorized to remove anything left in the apartment.

Can I withhold my rent payment until they fix the house or apartment?

If you withhold the rent, the landlord may file an eviction to have you removed. When you are served with the summons, you will have five working days to file an answer with the Clerk and deposit all the rent that is due into the Court Registry. The court will then decide on your case.


When my rent is due again, do I have to come back again?

If the eviction case is still active and you still live in the rental property, you must continue to place your rent in the Court Registry each time it becomes due.


How are monies deposited to the Court Registry released?

Monies are released per Florida Statute or Court Order.

How do I reschedule a hearing that I cannot attend?

Contact the attorney, if there is one in the case, and see if he/she will agree to the continuance. If not, you may file a request for continuance with the Clerk's Office for review by the judge.


How can I serve someone if I don't have a current address?

• They may be served at the place of employment.
• A private process server may be able to locate the individual.
• Check with the property appraiser's office for addresses of property they may own.

What is the difference between the Sheriff serving and a Process Server serving papers?

Process Server is limited to summons and subpoenas. The Sheriff can serve most documents including Writs of Possession to remove persons from property.

How long does it take the Sheriff to serve papers?

Contact the Sheriff’s Office at 813 242-5200 for more information.


Can I serve a summons myself?

No, unless you are certified process server or a deputy sheriff. If you are a party to the case, you cannot serve the papers.

What are the fees and fines associated with this service?

See County Civil Fees for more information.