The biggest fear most new investors have when starting out in rental real estate (other than broken toilets, termites, and trash) is what happens if you have to evict a tenant.

An eviction is a legal process in which a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property for some violation of the lease terms and takes back control of the property. In many states, you can pass the cost of eviction on to the tenant, as well.

Seems simple enough, right? Not so fast. It’s more complicated (and costly) than that.

And just because you can file an eviction doesn’t mean you (as the landlord) will win the eviction process. Evicting a tenant is no joke and should never be taken lightly.

Why Eviction Should Be a Last Resort
When you sign a lease as a landlord, you sign over control of the property to a tenant. But what happens if the tenant stops paying rent, causes extensive damage, or violates the lease terms in some egregious way? How can you as a landlord take back control of the property?

Even if you win the eviction, the average eviction costs a landlord $3,500 plus three to four weeks of time.

Before you pursue an eviction, consider the additional costs not figured in above:

Loss of future rents due to the tenant turn
Cost of repairs and cleaning due to tenant damage
Unforeseen cost if tenant contests the eviction
This is why having great tenant qualification criteria and a tenant screening process is vitally important (not to mention cost-effective!) in helping you avoid eviction in the first place.

Even then, as they say in rental real estate, it’s not a matter of “if” you will have an eviction, it’s a matter of “when.” So let’s demystify the eviction process should it come down to it.

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