Having to evict a tenant is an unpleasant process for real estate investors and property managers. I’ve been managing rentals for more than 15 years, and I’ve evicted over 50 tenants. I understand the frustration and know how much it will cost to evict someone.
The cost to evict a tenant is about $200 if you do it yourself and around $750 if you use an attorney. Of course, the costs vary by locality. In addition, you will have soft costs, such as getting the unit ready for another tenant.
Determining the exact cost of evicting a tenant is challenging. It will give you a vacant property, but in many cases, you already have a tenant not paying the rent. On top of that, you’ll have to fix up the rental unit for the next tenant. Read this article to learn more about the eviction process and the costs of eviction.
How Much Will It Cost to Evict My Tenant?
Determining how much it will cost to evict someone is challenging. The laws vary from state to state, and each municipality has rules and regulations. Below are some expenses you will encounter during the eviction process.
Court costs are the fees for using the court and its related services. The purpose of court costs is to cover the expenses incurred by the court in processing a case and to help fund the operation of the court system. This includes paying for the salaries of judges and court staff, maintaining court facilities, and purchasing equipment and supplies necessary for the court to function.
The court costs associated with an eviction are usually set by the court and vary depending on the type of case, the jurisdiction, and other factors. The court fees I usually pay start at a $105 filing fee for one defendant (the tenant) plus $50 for each additional defendant. In addition, the charge is $27 for the writ of possession.
The legal fees associated with an eviction can vary depending on several factors, including the case’s complexity, the property’s location, and the attorney or law firm hired to handle the eviction. Generally, you will have a filing fee set by the court and a service fee to have the tenant served with the eviction notice.
In many areas, an eviction attorney is optional, and the property owner should be able to handle most of the issues encountered in the eviction proceedings. The last time I used an attorney, the cost was a flat fee of $375, but I am told it’s now $425. The attorney fees will vary based on the attorney you use and the specific complications of your eviction action.
Eviction putout costs are expenses incurred when a tenant is evicted from a rental property, and their belongings are removed or put out onto the street. These costs may include fees for hiring a moving company, storage, and disposal fees for any items left behind.
Eviction putout costs can vary depending on the eviction’s circumstances, the property’s location, and the specific services required. These costs can be high and may be added to the amount the tenant owes in unpaid rent and other fees. For my last putout, I paid $150 for two people to move things out of the house.
Once the eviction is complete and the tenant is out of the house, you will have soft costs. These costs are not directly related to evicting the tenant, but they are costs that are incurred because of the eviction.
Hopefully, there is no property damage, and the only repair cost of the eviction is replacing the locks. However, in some evictions, the sheriff’s office will break down the to facilitate the putout. I’ve also had to break a window or hire a locksmith when the tenant abandons the property.
Property prep is the standard preparation that a landlord must do between tenants. This will include addressing normal wear and tear items and any needed landscaping. While this is not a direct cost of the eviction, the cost is incurred much earlier because of the eviction case.
Once you evict a tenant, you will have a vacancy. Vacancies can be costly for landlords, resulting in a loss of rental income. They may require additional advertising and maintenance costs to prepare the unit for a new tenant. This is on top of the lost rent you likely encountered while awaiting the eviction order. Furthermore, when a rental property is vacant, the landlord will incur the additional costs of utilities and lawn maintenance.
Evictions can be costly, but not evicting a non-paying tenant often comes with a greater cost. Now that you know how much it will cost to evict someone, make sure you don’t let a non-paying tenant stay too long. During the recent eviction moratoriums, I accumulated $107,000 in unpaid rent. The threat of eviction is usually enough to motivate tenants to pay their rent, and when that threat is removed, otherwise, reliable tenants may stop paying rent altogether.
The Eviction Process
You know what it costs to evict someone, but it could cost a lot more if you don’t do it right. Eviction varies by locality, and you must get sound legal advice before proceeding. This section will present a high-level overview common to most, but not all, municipalities.
In most areas, self-help evictions are not allowed. A landlord must follow the proper legal procedure to remove a tenant from the property.
1. Give Proper Notice
Before starting the eviction process, the landlord must give the notice to vacate the property. A written notice of eviction is frequently required and must specify the reason for eviction and the date by which the tenant must leave. Be sure you check your local regulations to get the correct notice period.
2. File Eviction
If the tenant does not vacate the property after receiving the notice to vacate, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit in court. The case will typically include a complaint that outlines the reasons for eviction and the amount of rent owed. At this time, filing fees are paid, and the landlord can request a financial judgment as part of the process.
3. Serve Tenant
The tenant must be served a copy of the eviction lawsuit and a summons to appear in court. The tenant will have an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit and may be able to contest the eviction. Usually, serving the defendant (tenant) is a service the court offers, but private options are often available.
4. Court Hearing
If the tenant responds to the lawsuit, a court date will be assigned, and court appearances will be required so a judge can hear both parties’ arguments. If the tenant does not respond to the lawsuit, the landlord may be able to obtain a default judgment for eviction. In most cases, if the tenant did not respond and was not personally served, the decision will only be for possession, and no financial judgment will not be awarded.
5. Writ of Possession
If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the landlord will be issued a writ of possession, a court order giving the landlord the right to physically remove the tenant from the property. Typically, an officer of the court with provide the tenant notice of the writ of possession, and the removal will begin shortly.
6. Tenant Removal
Once the writ of possession has been issued, the landlord can work with law enforcement to remove the tenant from the property. Oftentimes, the tenant will voluntarily leave the property, but in some cases, they must be forced to leave.
As a landlord, the cost of evicting a tenant is an important consideration affecting your financial bottom line, time and effort, legal compliance, and reputation. By understanding and managing these costs, you can make more informed decisions about when and how to pursue an eviction.
Getting rid of a bad tenant is never easy, and the best way to avoid it is by careful tenant screening. That’s no guarantee that new tenants won’t fall behind in their rent payments or otherwise break the lease agreement. Now that you know the total cost of evicting someone, you should be better prepared to handle it. All unlawful detainer actions are not about money, but if you need help collecting rent, you can check out my guide to dealing with non-paying tenants.
Don has been a real estate investor for over 15 years. He has accumulated over 70 rental properties and completed many house flips. Don currently owns a property management company and acts as a hard money lender. He writes on real estate investment, often divulging financial details, with a direct, no-nonsense style. In addition, Don is a software consultant and an accomplished software developer with a Mater's degree in Computer Science.