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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Real Estate > Fighting Eviction

Fighting Eviction Cost


How Much Does Fighting Eviction Cost?

 
low costLow: Legal Resources like Legal Aid Available for Free or Low-Costaverage costMedium: Hiring an Attorney Can Start At $300-$600
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Also called an unlawful detainer lawsuit, an eviction is the legal process by which a landlord can remove a tenant from rented property. If the tenant chooses to fight eviction, the case goes to court.

Typical costs:

  • If you need legal assistance and can't afford an attorney, often Legal Aid or other agencies can provide free or low-cost help. The American Bar Association lists legal resources[1] for each state. You can also contact your local consumer affairs/fair housing department for guidance in fighting the eviction and for specific information on the laws and procedures in your area.
  • A private attorney will charge $100-$400 (or more) an hour for fighting an eviction order. Legal fees for responding to your landlord's unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit and appearing with you at a hearing start around $300-$600 and go up depending on how much legal assistance is needed.
  • Some lawyers may take an eviction case on a contingency basis -- if you lose you owe no legal fees, and if you win your attorney collects legal fees from the landlord. Check your lease for an "attorney's fee" clause allowing the winning party to recover legal fees from the losing party in a dispute.
Related articles: Eviction, Landlord-Tenant Dispute, Real Estate Contract Review

What should be included:
  • Both tenants and landlords have rights and obligations, which may be part of an oral contract or spelled out in a rental agreement or lease. Study your lease/rental agreement so you're aware of all of its terms and clauses. Nolo Press explains what tenants need to know about evictions.
  • Generally, residential eviction laws are written to ensure that tenants receive adequate notice and an opportunity to respond before being put out of their homes. Each state has its own specific eviction procedures that must be precisely followed. Any mistakes may invalidate the eviction process (forcing the landlord to start back at the beginning of the eviction process). The US Department of Housing and Urban Development lists tenant rights[2] in each state.
  • A landlord cannot legally evict you without a court order, and if you want to fight the eviction you have the right to be heard in court. If you do go to court, bring all the court papers with you along with copies of your lease/rental agreement, photos of your apartment/house, rent receipts and any letters you received from your landlord. If you owe your landlord money, bring any money that you have available with you to court in hopes of settling with your landlord.
  • An eviction can be fought on the grounds of improper notice (if the landlord did not precisely follow the eviction requirements in your state), acceptance of a partial rent payment or failure to properly maintain the premises or unlawful discrimination, or because the landlord is evicting the tenant in retaliation[3] for requests for repair or reported code violations. FindLaw.com provides a brief overview of possible defenses against eviction.
  • Only law enforcement officers can physically evict a tenant from a rental property and in most states it's a crime for landlords to attempt to forcibly remove a tenant by themselves, or to change the locks, remove a tenant's belongings or turn off the utilities. If your landlord tries any of these actions, contact local authorities.
Additional costs:
  • If you are legally evicted, that fact will appear on your credit report, and can make it difficult to rent or lease an apartment in the future.
Shopping for fighting eviction:
  • When meeting with a private attorney or legal aid lawyer, bring all court documents related to the eviction plus a copy of your lease/rental agreement, photos of your apartment/house, rent receipts and any letters you received from your landlord. If hiring a private lawyer, ask about their training and experience. Lawyers.com explains how to find a tenant's lawyer[4] .
  • Referrals to attorneys specializing in landlord-tenant law are available through Lawyers.com[5] and FindLaw.com[6] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written fee agreement; be sure you understand what is included and any additional costs (court fees, clerical work) you might have to pay.
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External Resources:
  1.  apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm
  2.  www.hud.gov/consumer/local.cfm
  3.  realestate.findlaw.com/landlord-tenant-law/what-kinds-of-conduct-by-the-landlord-does-t...
  4.  real-estate.lawyers.com/landlord-tenant-law/Finding-Legal-Help-As-A-Tenant.html
  5.  www.lawyers.com/landlord-and-tenant-law/find-law-firms-by-location/
  6.  lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practice/Landlord_Tenant
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