One of the most feared situations when it comes to managing a rental property is an eviction. In a perfect world, tenants would pay their rent on time every month, adhere to the terms of the lease, and leave your property in better shape than they received it. Reality is far different. While most tenants work hard to remain in good standing with their landlord, there are those in the minority that don’t. The cost of eviction is not inexpensive for a landlord.
Are You Able to Evict?
Before ever filing a complaint in Court, you’ll need to determine if you have the legal right to file an eviction. Unpaid rent is not the only reason to evict, although it is the most common cause. If you’re looking to evict a tenant because they have unauthorized animals in the property or additional tenants that exceed the lease or public code allowances you need to see what remediation your lease and local & state laws require before proceeding with an eviction. Often you’ll need to provide written demand for payment of rent or resolution to the dispute to the tenant with a reasonable timeline.
What Does an Eviction Cost?
There’s no one-size-fits-all price tag for an eviction. Sometimes a landlord will get “lucky” and a tenant will abandon the property and not contest the eviction proceedings other times a tenant will fight to the bitter end. The cost also varies based on how much back rent the landlord is owed, attorney’s costs, and Court filing fees. There’s also the question of what state the property is in once the eviction has been completed. If the property requires major repairs in order to to make it habitable for the next tenants; those costs coupled with the time lost on rent can also add up quickly.
A brief summary of eviction costs include:
- $500 – attorney fees
- $50-200 – Court fees
- $150 – rekeying costs
- $1,500 – repairs and cleaning fees
- $4,500 -3 months of lost rent after eviction was completed
Can You Recoup Your Loss?
With the appropriate evidence (e.g. a lease, late notices, demand letters) a landlord can file a complaint in small claims Court for a personal judgment against the former tenant. If the landlord secures a judgment they can attempt to collect the unpaid rent and charges for damages (if any) but roughly only 17% of landlords who seek out this option ever see repayment.
There’s no solid guarantee that the tenant you thoroughly screen isn’t going to default on their rental obligation. But adhering to the lease (late fees and proper notice) and keeping communication open with your tenant can alert to you problems before they escalate and can protect you and your investment in the long term.