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Can Process Servers Access Gated Communities?

Many high-end communities across Florida have gated entries, especially the neighborhoods where retirees like to settle. The residents of these communities pay extra Homeowner’s Association fees in order to benefit from the extra privacy that gated entrances offer, and part of that privacy has for many years included an escape from process servers. This means that foreclosure notices, divorce papers, ticket summons, and other important legal documents cannot be delivered to their intended recipients at home.

According to the homeowner’s association leaders who make the decision to bar process servers, it is within their legal rights to deny entry to anyone who will cause a disruption, and in their opinion process servers ruin the atmosphere of peace and privacy that residents relish. But is that fair? The state of Virginia seems to think so.

Select members of the Virginia legislature have attempted multiple times to grant process servers access to gated communities, with the most recent bill introduced on November 11, 2016. However, Senator Wexton withdrew with bill in early 2017, leaving process servers with no option but to resort to other means to find and contact the recipients of legal papers.  

Florida, Georgia, and California offer a different take on the issue, and are three of only a few states to pass laws that support process servers. In 2011, Florida legislators passed a new statute that requires gated residential communities to allow process servers unannounced entry in order to serve process on a defendant or witness within the property. The Florida statute takes it one step further by explicitly stating that any community manager who warns the resident of a process server’s arrival, restricts a process server’s access, or other obstructs service of process can be guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and punished by a fine and jail time.

Since some gated communities in Florida still make it difficult for process servers to enter, despite the clear laws requiring it, be sure to hire a professional process server for your own legal needs. Accurate Serve Tallahassee has been meeting the needs of legal professionals and individuals around Florida and beyond since 2009. Give them a call today at 239-822-7299 to learn more and place your legal document delivery needs in the hands of experts who know the details of the law.