Cost of Eviction: Learn the Costs Incurred to Evict Someone

There are a few reasons a landlord may want to evict a tenant, but the primary reason is because the tenant fails to pay rent. In fact, according to TransUnion research, 84%* of landlords say payment problems are their number one concern about new tenants.

landlord tenant concerns

Often, evictions will require notice to the tenant, filing a court action against the tenant, and seeing the eviction through a lengthy eviction process that may require a hearing.

If you think it sounds like a lot of time and effort, you are correct. The eviction process is both expensive and time-consuming, especially when you consider that it could be prevented with a thorough tenant screening before they move into the property.

THE PROCESS OF EVICTING A TENANT

Before answering what it costs to evict someone, let’s take a look at a high level overview of how the eviction process works. After signing a lease agreement, a problem arises. Perhaps rent is not paid, the lease is violated, or your tenant breaks the law.

Ideally, you and your tenant try to resolve the problem before sending an eviction notice, after which you’re required to wait a certain amount of time for the tenant to resolve the problem. This waiting period differs vastly between states.

If the problem goes unresolved, a complaint in court is filed. Once the court date is sent, your tenant will receive a summons to which they can respond with an answer or wait for the hearing. In court, the two of you will each describe your version of the story and wait for a judge’s decision.

One of two outcomes can occur: you win or the tenant wins. If the tenant wins and stays, you may be required to pay for their court fees and attorney fees.

If you win and the tenant is forced to leave, the judge will issue a Court Order, also known as a Warrant of Eviction or Writ of Restitution. Either your tenant will voluntarily leave, or a law enforcement officer may be required to remove the tenant and their belongings. Based on the lease agreement and local laws, your tenant may be responsible for paying your court filing fees, attorney fees, unpaid rent, and/or damages and penalties.

THE COST BREAK DOWN

Expenses extend farther than the cost of the eviction itself. They also include other related expenses that you may not have factored in. Maintenance fees, lost rent, court costs, and other legal fees are all part of an eviction.

eviction costs

TransUnion SmartMove data found that total eviction-related expenses for property managers averages $3,500 and can take as long as 3-4 weeks for the eviction process to run its course.**

LET’S BREAK IT DOWN TO SEE WHAT THESE COSTS ENTAIL:

Legal Fees: In most cases, you will want to hire an attorney to evict your tenant, especially since the eviction process can be complicated and the paperwork needs to be one hundred percent accurate. Even a misspelled name can cause problems and delays. Attorneys typically charge hundreds of dollars an hour and those hours can add up quickly.

How much does it cost to evict someone in legal fees? A real estate or eviction attorney can charge either a flat fee or by the hour, and what it costs to evict someone depends both on your attorney’s experience and complexity of the case. The low-end average cost of eviction in legal fees is $500.

Court Costs: The cost to file a claim in court varies, but every state charges filing fees. Evictions are often contested by the tenant. Disputed evictions represented by council can make an otherwise simple eviction more complex. Discovery, motions, and jury trial demands can increase legal costs and drag out the process, meaning further lost rent and wasted time.

How much does it cost to evict someone in court costs? The cost of eviction in terms of court expenses will vary depending on which state your case takes place in, but the national average is $50. Keep in mind that there are also charges for a sheriff’s office to serve notice, so be sure to research this eviction cost as well.

Lost Rent: Along with legal fees, lost rent is one of the most expensive costs of an eviction. Rent continues to accrue during the formal eviction process, and regardless of the court-ordered outcome, there may be unpaid rental debt owed to you. If there is property damage, the time spent dealing with contractors and making necessary repairs will prolong the amount of time your property is left vacant and not bring in any income. Not to mention the added costs of turning over the unit – preparing it for rent, advertising, showing the property, and so on.

How much does it cost to evict someone in terms of lost rent? Based on the median rent and average 3 month eviction process, evictions typically cost $2,540 due to vacancy—which is no small number for budding landlords.

Property Turnover Costs: There’s more money lost than just rent when factoring in the cost of eviction. In addition to a direct hit to your monthly income, you’ll face cumbersome turnover costs. Payments towards your mortgage and HOA dues—which were once covered by the tenant—now fall on your shoulders. You’ll likely incur advertising costs and property management fees, in addition to maintenance services.

How much does it cost to evict someone in terms of property turnover? The amount of your monthly mortgage payment, whether or not you’re a member of a Home Owner’s Association, and how you choose to advertise are just a few factors that contribute to the cost of evicting someone. On average, property turnover costs may amount to $1,750.

Property Damages: At the very least, there may be cleaning fees if you use an outside service to clean the property. A tenant that is being evicted (and therefore unable to collect their rent deposit) has little motivation to clean the property before they vacate the premises. Depending on state laws, a tenant’s personal possessions may need to be removed and/or stored. In the case of abandoned property, it may cost more to properly dispose of electronics, large items, and hazardous materials.

How much does it cost to evict someone in property damages? This number is really hard to pin down considering the amount of variables. How disrespectful was the tenant? How extensive was the damage? How expensive were the items? Were they insured? If you’re lucky, you won’t have any property damage at all, but one eviction cost you can count on is the changing of locks. Be prepared to spend roughly $150 on a locksmith.

Financial Damages: Even if you do win a financial judgment against the tenant, the American Collectors Association reports only a 17% success rate on the average debt collection (2010 Benchmarking Survey). After all, if a tenant is unable to pay rent, it is not very realistic to expect that you will be able to recoup your losses from them in a timely fashion.

THE TOTAL COST OF EVICTION

TransUnion SmartMove data found that total eviction-related expenses for property managers averages $3,500 and can take as long as 3-4 weeks for the eviction process to run its course.**

There are also non-monetary costs to take into consideration, such as the strain and stress of an ongoing legal battle. Time is money, and the more time you waste on an eviction, the less time you have to spend on more lucrative endeavors.

In the end, the costs of an eviction are too high when you consider that you can take steps to help avoid them in the first place. You can decrease the likelihood of an eviction with rental policies and preventative measures. Careful tenant screening will help you reduce your risk of delinquent and destructive tenants, and a lease that specifically outlines late fees and payment policies will motivate tenants to make rent a priority.

PREVENT EVICTIONS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN

To ensure that your property continues to bring in revenue, you need to have quality tenants. If a tenant is behind in their rent and losing you money, you will likely want to quickly replace them with a tenant that can pay their rent. However, legal evictions can be costly and time-consuming, and the formal eviction process is governed by your state’s landlord-tenant laws. While large property management companies often have the resources to absorb the cost of an eviction, this is not the case for many independent landlords.

evicted tenant trends

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Thoroughly screening your tenants, and making it a consistent part of your rental process, can help you avoid having to evict a tenant later on. The $35 SmartMove screening package includes an eviction report and full credit report.

Whether you use SmartMove tenant screening or another screening service, it’s important to order an eviction report as part of your tenant screening package since prior evictions are highly predictive of future evictions. TransUnion’s analysis of nearly 200 properties found that evicted residents have nearly three times as many prior eviction and rental-related collection records as non-evicted residents.

TENANT SCREENING: A COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS

The average cost of eviction is $3,500, while the SmartMove tenant screening package costs only $35. With the math on the cost/benefit analysis of running an eviction report, you can pre-screen 10 tenants for the same price of evicting one.

Fifty-six percent of landlords say that prior eviction history is one of their top concerns about new tenants, and running an eviction can give you the peace of mind you need to move forward with your next lease agreement. Hopefully you won’t need to screen more than a few applicants and will feel confident about the first couple of tenants who you run a background check on—and with SmartMove’s innovative pricing structure, you’ll never have to pay for more than what you need. No subscription service; simply pay for an eviction report on each applicant as necessary.

When you think of the thousands of dollars you could avoid having to spend on an eviction, a tenant screening service is a prudent investment. With SmartMove, you can even pass on the cost to the applicant to have them pay for the screening.

There may still be an occasion where even the most careful landlord has to evict a tenant. However, advanced tenant screening is your best bet against finding yourself in a complicated and costly situation.

*2014 SmartMove user survey