A troublesome tenant may cost you money and your good reputation as a landlord. Dealing with them may also cause you a lot of unnecessary stress and consume time. In some situations – like non-payment of rent, extremely late payments, or breach of lease agreement – eviction may seem like the only viable solution to your tenant problems. Before you decide to take this serious legal step, however, you must be aware of the costs related to the eviction process. In this blog, we explore common expenses a landlord must be prepared to bear before, during, and after the eviction. We also tackle the question if it is possible to reduce the eviction costs.
Fees Related to Serving & Filing
As we mentioned in our August blog, each eviction must closely follow a process delineated by both state and county laws. Such laws state, for example, that before initiating any action to evict a tenant, they must be served a notice of eviction. If you’d like a professional to prepare such notice for you, this will likely be the first cost you’ll have to bear with relation to an eviction.
The notice must be then served to the tenant. Again, while you may choose to do that yourself, many prefer to have a third party – for example, a process server – deliver the notice. This solution is called civil processing and its advantage is that it creates an official record of the delivery. However, you must be prepared to pay a fee for it.
After the notice has been delivered and before you can move forward with the eviction, you need to file important paperwork – such as a Summons and a Complaint for Eviction and Damages – with your local or district court. At this stage, you will need to pay filing and processing fees. In Florida, these fees will cost you about $250, with increasing costs if there is more than one tenant.
Court Costs and Legal Fees
In addition to the initial paperwork that you file with the court, you will likely be required to file additional documents at every stage of the eviction. The costs of legal proceedings can quickly add up, especially if the eviction is contested by the tenant. Such expenses may relate to a court review of your case, the discovery process, and a jury trial. Depending on the circumstances, all such expenses may easily reach a few hundred, and sometimes thousands of dollars.
Due to the complexity of your eviction case, or simply for your peace of mind, you may require the assistance of an eviction attorney. There are different ways in which lawyers may charge you for their services. Some use a flat-rate package that includes the preparation of the needed documents and a number of court appearances. Others charge for their work according to their billable hourly rate. If your eviction case is contested and a hearing is necessary, attorney fees will likely be higher.
Other Eviction Related Costs
If the court approves of the eviction, or if you win your eviction case, you must be prepared for the cost of enforcing the eviction. For example, you will have to pay a fee service of the Writ of Possession in the amount of $90. After the actual, physical eviction has taken place, you will likely have to clean or even renovate your property, which will entail additional costs.
How to Reduce Eviction Costs
Most of the costs and fees mentioned above are mandatory and therefore impossible to avoid if you’re evicting a tenant. However, according to Florida Statutes, as a prevailing party in an eviction lawsuit, you are entitled to recover court costs and attorney fees from the losing party.
Nevertheless, the best way to reduce eviction costs is to avoid evictions altogether by investing money in better tenant-screening. While there are no guarantees, choosing tenants with a good credit score, solid references, and a professional tenant application will be less likely to give you lawful reasons for eviction.
Atlas Law – Trusted Florida Eviction Lawyers
At times, though, eviction may be necessary. If you are losing money or your good reputation as a landlord due to a troublesome tenant, contact Atlas Law. We are Florida attorneys who specialize in finding innovative solutions to complex eviction cases. Contact us today and schedule a consultation to talk about the details of your eviction case.