Landlording & Rental Properties

The Cost of Eviction: This Is How Much You’ll Pay to Evict a Tenant

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties
12 Articles Written
Eviction notice letter pasted on front door of house

The real cost of evicting a delinquent tenant can add up to thousands of dollars. It takes a lot of money to hire an attorney, pay court costs, repair the unit, and clean up the tenant’s junk. And there’s also the issue of losing months in unpaid rent. Evictions are a costly and time-consuming process.

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Unfortunately, the total cost of evicting a bad tenant isn't just measured in financial terms. There is the toll that evictions take on your nerves, sleeping habits, personal life, and time. If the tenant decides to contest the eviction, you are faced with an even heftier bill. Because of the substantial financial implications evicting a tenant has, most landlords are more determined to screen tenants better the next time.

How Much Will It Cost to Evict My Tenants?

The final bill of evicting one of your tenants varies from state to state. However, the total cost of the eviction process can be broken down into various stages. How much does it cost to oust a non-paying or unruly tenant from your property?

Read on for a breakdown of eviction costs, so you know what to expect from taking action against your tenant.

Related: I’ll Never Evict a Tenant—Here’s Why

The Eviction Process

Before looking at the specific costs of evicting someone, it’s vital to know how the eviction process works. After all, you need to keep yourself on the right side of the law. Otherwise, the cost of eviction will skyrocket if your tenant files a claim against you.

The most common reason for evicting a renter is due to unpaid rent. Undoubtedly, if a tenant has missed rent payments for a month or two, you will have tried to resolve the issue. But if the tenant refuses to pay or can’t pay, then you must take legal steps to remove them.

Even in the age of COVID-19, when eviction moratoriums are in place, working with your tenant to solve payment problems is good advice. Of course, even though bans on evictions are in place due to COVID-19, you can still evict tenants due to unruly behavior or breaking the lease agreement.

Here are the steps to take if you need to get rid of a bad tenant:

  1. You serve the tenant written notice to “cure or quit”—pay up or get out.
  2. After the eviction notice and required time pass, you file for eviction with the courts.
  3. You must attend the hearing and bring evidence to validate your claim.
  4. If the judge rules in your favor, the tenant will have to vacate the property within a set time.
  5. If they refuse to leave, you must arrive with the sheriff to evict them.
  6. Depending on the situation, you may need to file for loss of rent or damage to the property in a small claims court.

All that sounds time-consuming and expensive—and it is. Is there a way to make evictions cheaper?

Related: How to Evict a Tenant: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide

keys on top of dollar bills

Preventing the Eviction Process

To avoid eviction and lower your costs, you could offer the tenant a "cash for keys” deal. In other words, pay them to get out of the property. While you’re probably not keen on handing over cash to a delinquent tenant, it can be cheaper than an eviction.

However, you can’t carry out a self-help eviction to avoid some of the legal costs of evicting someone. Self-help evictions are illegal, and you can end up paying more in legal fees if your tenant files a claim against you.

The Cost Breakdown of an Eviction

Let’s look at the costs involved in using the courts to remove a tenant from your property legally.

Legal fees

Legal fees are some of the highest costs of evicting a tenant. An eviction attorney will make sure all your paperwork is accurate and have a legal basis to evict the tenant.

Real estate attorneys can charge by the hour, or you could find one that has a flat fee for evictions. However, the costs can vary depending on the complexity of the eviction and where you live.

Expect to pay at least $500 in legal fees in an uncontested eviction.

Related: How to Avoid a Legal Catastrophe Caused by Tenant-Recorded Conversations

Court costs

Court costs can depend on several factors. First, you’ll have to pay court fees to file a claim. But if the tenant contests the eviction, the cost to evict someone in court will jump up. If the trial drags on, you can soon find out you’ve must pay a few hundred dollars in costs.

The average court costs for filing an eviction are around $50.

Fees for hiring the sheriff

If you win the eviction hearing, you can almost breathe a sigh of relief. However, you need to get the tenant out of the rental unit. In an ideal world, the tenant vacates immediately and hands back the keys. However, in many cases, you must get the sheriff involved.

Costs of getting the sheriff’s office to serve notice can range between $50 and $400.

Book with title Landlord-Tenant Law and a gavel.

Lost rent

Not paying rent is the most common reason for an eviction. On average, it can take around three months to remove a tenant from your property legally. According to Statista, the average rent in the U.S. is $1,463. Now, you see that the total cost of evicting a bad renter has shot up.

The cost to evict someone in terms of lost rent is around $4,000.

Repair bills

There is always a clean-up job after a tenant vacates a unit. But after an eviction, repairs and deep cleaning is almost always necessary. Of course, the repair costs and cleaning fees will vary depending on the level of damage.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the total costs for repairs and cleaning after an eviction are around $1,000 for repairs and $500 for cleaning.

Related: 5 Steps to Take After Evicting a Tenant (Plus, How to Prevent It in the First Place)

Other miscellaneous costs involved with evictions

The total cost of evicting a tenant who violates the lease is more than just legal fees, lost rent, and property repairs. Here are a few more fees to add to the breakdown of eviction costs:

  • Locksmith: $150
  • Traveling expenses: $100
  • Advertising a vacant unit: $50 to $200 depending on where you place your ad
  • Stress: Your health is too valuable to put a price on

A Breakdown of Eviction Costs: The Bottom Line

After crunching the numbers, the actual cost of evicting a tenant can be between $4,000 and $7,000. However, the final eviction bill depends on where you live, the type of rental unit, and how long it takes to evict the tenant.

Have you evicted a tenant or are you in the process? What’s your experience been like?

Share in the comment section below.

Remen Okoruwa is the co-founder of RentDrop, a free software tool that helps landlords and property managers collect rent and maintain their units. Remen has ...
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    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied 26 days ago
    Remen, eviction laws vary widely from state, and many cities have also enacted local eviction laws. States that have predominantly Democrat control tend to be more tenant friendly and states that are predominantly Republican tend to favor landlords more. This is not a bash for against either party, it is just the ideology of each party. I understand in a state like California it can take 3 to 6 months to evict and it is extremely complicated. There are many pitfalls for the uneducated in the way of fines and dismissals if you mess up. There are some attorneys who simply look through the filed evictions for pro se litigants to see if there is a case they can file to get fees for errors. In states like WY you can file an eviction and often have the person out in a week or 2. They are simple and move quickly. There are many states inbetween these 2 extremes. It is worth your time to look up your state statutes and read them and consult with an attorney even before you have a problem. You should also have them look over your lease to make sure it doesn't have holes in it. If you don't have provisions about keeping the house or yard in good shape and you try to evict them because there is moldy dishes on the floor and dog poop all over the house you might be out of luck. Know your rights and the cost and you will be better off. Until you really know your own states laws, you have no idea of the time or cost.
    Barry H. Investor from Scottsdale, AZ
    Replied 23 days ago
    REMEN Excellent article outlining the basics of the eviction process. Your best advice is, of course, to screen tenants better. I had my share of evictions and I've never considered cash for keys. I consider it my duty to other landlords out there to put an eviction on someone's record so they do not pull their shenanigans on the next landlord. I have unfortunately been the beneficiary of a tenant who came to me with no eviction on their record, having not paid their prior landlord. They saved up their money, and then when they got the Notice to Vacate at their current property, they rented from me. They were sneaky in providing prior rental references. Needless to say, they did the same thing to me. I did not let them off the hook. They were very surprised when I actually filed for back rent owed and created a civil record which would alert the next landlord. Not surprisingly, the prior landlord never did file a lawsuit for the back rent they owed. That landlord did a disservice to other landlords.
    Mi Rez
    Replied 23 days ago
    Are you saying during moratorium, we can evict the tenants due to breach of contract other than non-payments? I am in California.
    Christopher Smith Investor from brentwood, california
    Replied 23 days ago
    Sound management with well honed tenant selection criteria and practices is the preventative medicine to avoid 95% of all tenant issues including eviction. I've never had a formal eviction in 20+ years across multiple states. I've had one where we had to "show them the door" after 3 months of non payment and fortunately that was good enough and they left without incident or the need for court filings. Had another where we had to have a sit down to tell them things weren't working out despite the fact that all rent was paid (but often late with endless fairy tale stories that drove my PM absolutely crazy). Fortunately that one worked out well too, we simply released the tenant from the remaining lease obligation and waived a modest amount of accrued late fees. Tenant left on reasonably good terms with the property in really good shape. But again in the end it's really all about preventative medicine. It's really true here as much as anywhere else an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
    David Avery Contractor from Phoenix Arizona
    Replied 22 days ago
    Tenants are people that are losing their jobs, spouse, mental issues and so much more right now. I have noticed several duplex and triplexes for Sale with tenants in place. I can only imagine why the seller is selling ! Dah !! It’s going to get worse in the next 6-8 weeks! I paid drug dealing, white trashy $400 ,30 years ago to keep a deal together . Luckily they left and cleaned it as part of our verbal agreement. Vivid stinks, vote smart! Keep the business President in office!
    Reinaldo Lopez Rental Property Investor
    Replied 22 days ago
    Remen, Thanks for your article, I am lucky enough to have done only one eviction on my years as landlord, ( only 8) and it was for a out of state friend. The choice of cash for keys is great and I heard that from many investors. It motivates them to move and there will be no eviction filed against them or his record in court. Here in FL , as far as I know you can evict someone unless it is government subside. But the court is super slow so is about the same. I got one of those SBA protection loans in case it gets ugly. Good luck to everyone.
    Karl B. Rental Property Investor from Columbia, MO
    Replied 20 days ago
    It doesn't cost that much! I typically pay under $300 (including locksmith and court fees) to evict a tenant when I represent myself in court. And then after I win a judgement I wait a month and get a lien on the lease signer(s).