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Eviction Education: My Cost – $3403.99, Today’s Special – Free!

Tom Sylvester
3 min read

Your mistakes are your tuition.
Eiji Toyoda

Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.
Mason Cooley

If you are a landlord, no matter how well you screen for tenants, you will eventually have to go through an eviction.  When I started investing in real estate, it was 3 years before I had my first eviction.  Anyone who has gone through an eviction knows that it can be a painful, tricky and expensive process.  Therefore, it is important to make sure you understand the eviction process in your area before you need to.  If you don’t, your education will be expensive.  My eviction education cost me $3383.99, but if you act today, you can have it for the very low price of FREE!

My lease has the following terminology related to rent.

RENT, ADDED RENT: The rent payment for each month must be paid on the first day of each month to the landlord.  The landlord need not give notice to pay the rent.  Rent must be paid in full without deduction.  The first month’s rent is to be paid when the tenant signs this agreement.  Rent checks returned for insufficient funds shall be subject to a $25.00 late service fee, in addition to a $20 returned check fee.  The tenant(s) shall be responsible for the payment of a late charge of $50.00 for rent not paid on or before the 5th day of the month for which the rent is due.  Said late charge is deemed to be added rent payable by the tenant(s) to the landlord under the terms of the agreement.  It is the tenant’s responsibility to get the rent to the landlord on time.  If the tenant(s) sends a check for the rent, it must be post-marked by the fifth day of the month in order to avoid being charged a late fee.  The tenant(s) must send rent checks to the landlord at the above address.

In case I need to take a tenant to court, it also has this clause.

COSTS AND ATTORNEY FEES: Tenant(s) shall pay the actual amount of all reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred by Landlord in connection with successful action to enforce the Landlord’s rights under this agreement.

Eviction Education Cost Breakdown

Date Cost Activity
September 5th ($730.00) Did not receive tenant’s rent.  She told my father she had an issue with her checking account.  He gave her the benefit of the doubt, but each week she said she would have it, she had another excuse.
October 5th ($730.00) We still had not received September rent and now did not receive October rent.  Decided it was time to evict and posted 3 day notice on the tenants door.
October 18th $0.00 Finally had paperwork filled out for the court for the eviction.  The court was only opened 1 day a week, so we had to wait until it was open to pick up the paperwork.
October 24th ($20.00) After taking a week to figure out how to fill out the paperwork and waiting for the court to be open, we finally filed the eviction paperwork with the court and received a court date of November 7th.
October 26th ($50.00) Paid Sheriff to serve eviction paperwork to tenant.
November 5th ($730.00) Tenant did not pay November rent.
November 7th $680 Tenant did not show up to court, so we received a verdict of $1480 (September Rent + October Rent + Late Fees + Court Fee).  We are able to then keep the security deposit of $680.
November 9th ($104.92) Sheriff served warrant to tenant.
November 16th ($12.07) Tenant did not move out, so Sheriff removed tenant from property.
November 17th ($327) Tenant leaves the property a mess and with damage.
December 1st ($680) Being December, it is difficult to find renters and the apartment sits vacant.
December 12th ($20.00) We go to small claims court for November rent + property damage.  Tenant does not show up and we are awarded $1173.99.
January 1st $680 We approve a tenant to rent the property, but they can’t move in until February 1st.
February 1st $0.00 New tenant moves in!
Total Cost ($3403.99) Final amount of money that we lost out on as a result of this tenant.

Even though we were awarded a total of $2653.99 from the courts, we have yet to collect a single dime.  The tenant does not have a job, so we cannot garnish their wages.  We had verdicts filed, but who knows if we will ever see that money.

Lessons Learned

 1. Don’t Delay Starting the Eviction

Evictions take time.  The longer you wait, the more money you will lose.  Much better to start the eviction and pay the $20 court fee and cancel it when the tenant pays (their $50 late fee covering the court cost) as compared to waiting and incurring most lost revenue.

2. Understand the Eviction Process

We did not know how to do an eviction before we needed to.  As a result, it took us longer to determine how to fill out paperwork.  We also didn’t realize the court was only open one day a week, so it took us longer to get the paperwork filed.

Related: Evictions – Can You Do Them Yourself?

3. An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Tenant screening is important.  We do a pretty good job of screening, but this experience reinforced the importance of that.  We follow the basic process explained in Tenant Screening: The Ultimate Guide.

Hopefully this story has helped save you some of the trouble and costs that we’ve spent on this eviction. Be sure to leave a comment below letting me know your worst eviction stories!

Photo: Bart Everson

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.