CLE evictions up: Bailiffs left with tough task

Posted at 10:32 PM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 22:32:23-04

Cleveland evictions increased between 2014 and 2015, to 1,444, and Cleveland Housing Court is using education to curb the rise.

Cleveland Housing Court bailiffs deal with the emotionally charged situation on daily basis, circumstances where there are no winners, and can set-up a potentially dangerous situation.

Bailiff's Allen Humphrey and Tony Hall oversee hundreds of Cleveland evictions every year.

Hall knows the danger first hand, after he was involved in a 2104 shootout while trying to serve an eviction at the Morning Star Tower Apartments.

Police say tenant Gregory Love pulled a gun and opened fire on Hall and his partner.  Quick thinking by Hall and a misfire by Love's gun prevented anyone from being seriously injured.

"I still think about it, how could you not," said Hall. "Especially all the what if's, or who might have been hurt."

Hall told career evictees really put stress on the system, some are evicted three or four times a year.

Hall explained tenants have used every excuse in the book for not paying their rent.

"There are a ton of excuses, I've even heard the excuse, a tenant said they died and they came back to life," said Hall.

Cleveland Housing Court told key ways to reduce evictions is if tenants and landlords would run records checks on each other before engaging in a lease, using resources on the housing court website.

If tenants or landlords find too many evictions on the record, that should be a red flag.

Housing court has also stepped up landlord/tenant education through its housing clinic, and aggressive arbitration program.

Bailiff Allen Humphrey explained housing court gives both sides more than six weeks and plenty of resources to settle their differences before an eviction takes place.

Still, Humphrey said bailiffs try to conduct an eviction as humanely as possible when they occur.

"It's their lives, so I try to do the best I can and I treat everybody with respect, just like I would want to be treated myself," said Humphrey.