The Cost of Eviction: This Is How Much You’ll Pay to Evict a Tenant
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:
- You serve the tenant written notice to “cure or quit”—pay up or get out.
- After the eviction notice and required time pass, you file for eviction with the courts.
- You must attend the hearing and bring evidence to validate your claim.
- If the judge rules in your favor, the tenant will have to vacate the property within a set time.
- If they refuse to leave, you must arrive with the sheriff to evict them.
- 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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.