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Eviction Cost


How Much Does an Eviction Cost?

 
low costLow: Do-It-Yourself Downloadable Forms Sell for $15-$50average costMedium: Serving Papers and Court Filing Fees Can Run $400-$700high costHigh: An Attorney Serving An Uncontested Eviction Can Run $500-$1,000+
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Also called an unlawful detainer lawsuit, an eviction is the legal process by which a landlord removes a tenant from rented property. Typically a tenant who fails to pay rent, poses a threat to public safety or property, or in some way violates a rental/lease agreement may be evicted, but only after the landlord gives written notice and obtains a court order. Tenants may avoid eviction, particularly if the landlord doesn't precisely follow proper eviction procedures as defined by state law.

Typical costs:

  • Online services such as LawDepot.com[1] or USLegalForms.com[2] sell downloadable eviction forms for $15-$30 per document, depending on the level of service/advice included. However, it's extremely important that you use exactly the right form and wording to comply with the eviction process in your state, so some experts warn against do-it-yourself forms or kits. Some states provide a packet of forms designed for a landlord seeking to evict a tenant in a straightforward case of nonpayment of rent or an expired lease for a nominal fee of $30-$50.
  • Costs such as court filing fees ($50-$500, depending on location and the amount of money involved in the dispute), process server charges ($30-$150 per defendant) and related expenses typically total $400-$700 depending on the number of tenants living at the property, whether it's difficult to serve notice to all the tenants (more than one attempt may be required), and whether the tenants eventually leave voluntarily or must be removed by law enforcement officers.
  • Separate from these miscellaneous costs are the fees charged by an eviction service company or an attorney. Eviction service companies charge anywhere from $140-$500 or more to handle the eviction paperwork.
  • Lawyers typically charge $200-$400 an hour to handle an eviction, but may quote a flat fee after meeting with you and going over the circumstances of your case. An Illinois lawyer estimates that legal fees for a standard (uncontested) eviction run about $500-$600. An Oregon attorney says legal fees for an uncontested eviction average $750-$1,000; jump to $1,500-$3,000 if the tenant requests a trial but is not represented by an attorney; and can be $3,000-$5,000 if the tenant requests a trial and hires an attorney.
Related articles: Fighting Eviction, Landlord-Tenant Dispute, Real Estate Contract Review

What should be included:
  • Generally, residential eviction laws are written to ensure that a tenant gets adequate notice and an opportunity to respond before being put out of his or her home. Each state has its own specific eviction procedures that must be precisely followed. Any mistakes may invalidate the process and require the landlord to start over, with new filing fees and other costs. Nolo Press explains how evictions work for landlords or property managers and Lawyers.com lists landlord-tenant information[3] for each state.
  • Generally a landlord must give a tenant a "notice to quit" before starting the eviction process, and the lawsuit begins when the tenant is served with the required legal papers. Within a few weeks, a hearing is held. If the court rules in the landlord's favor, the tenant is usually given a short period of time in which to move out. On average the total eviction process takes 2-4 months, although it varies by state. Lawyers.com provides a general overview[4] of the eviction process, and Nolo Press describes how the process changes if the tenant declares bankruptcy.
  • If a tenant doesn't leave after the court rules in the landlord's favor and issues an eviction warrant, law enforcement officers can remove the tenant's belongings and lock the tenant out. Only law enforcement officers can physically evict a tenant from a rental property. In most states it is a crime for a landlord to change the locks, remove a tenant's belongings, turn off the utilities or attempt to forcibly remove the tenant. Nolo Press briefly describes the potential penalties.
Additional costs:
  • Depending on the situation, there can be a wide range of other costs connected to an eviction. A Texas landlord estimates a recent eviction[5] cost him $11,000-$12,000 in lost rent, cleanup, new locks and repairs/remodeling.
Discounts:
  • If you win the lawsuit, the tenant(s) might be ordered to pay your costs and legal fees -- but most tenants facing eviction don't have much money, so it can be difficult (or impossible) to collect.
Shopping for an eviction:
  • If using a local eviction service, request references and ask about any additional costs or whether legal services by an attorney are included in the quoted fee.
  • Ask about the attorney's training and experience with your state's eviction process.
  • Search for attorneys specializing in landlord-tenant law at FindLaw.com[6] or Lawyers.com[7] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written fee agreement; be sure you understand what's included and any additional costs.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.lawdepot.com/contracts/notice-of-rent-increase-form/index.php?&a=t
  2.  www.uslegalforms.com/findlaw/landlordtenant/leasetermination/
  3.  real-estate.lawyers.com/landlord-tenant-law/State-Landlord-and-Tenant-Information.html
  4.  real-estate.lawyers.com/landlord-tenant-law/Evicting-a-Problem-Tenant.html
  5.  crosslandteam.com/blog/2008/04/19/austin-eviction-aftermath-and-the-cost-of-rental-prop...
  6.  lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practice/Landlord_Tenant
  7.  www.lawyers.com/landlord-and-tenant-law/find-law-firms-by-location/
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