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How much do attorneys charge for evictions?

Eviction costs

How much do attorneys charge for evictions?

The overall eviction costs depends on the facts, and the attorney’s approach.

An experienced and ethical attorney, should first try to negotiate a successful eviction through pre-court mediation.

This can be done if the attorney can persuade the tenant to leave voluntarily.

An experienced eviction lawyer needs to highlight to the tenant, the costs of not leaving, versus the benefits of exiting voluntarily.

A skilled negotiator can settle most legal matters out of court.

In our experience, one should first try and spend 2 billable hours on mediation, before going to court.

So that no time is wasted during this phase, an eviction attorney should, at the same time, draft and send the pre-court legal notifications i.e. eviction notices aka letters of demand.

This will ensure that any mediation strategy is done in parallel with the technical pre-court legal steps.

One should realistically budget around R2000 x 2 hours for this approach.

However, some tenants or occupiers, may be totally unreasonable, or desperate with no where else to go.

In these extreme cases, the formal court process must be pursued, and negotiations continue in parallel. After all, in these cases, government needs to get involved to provide alternative accommodation.

Any general eviction takes at least 2 to 3 months, costing upwards of R15 000 excl VAT and expenses.

This is if the tenant/occupier does not oppose the process, or interfere with its progression in any way.

Often a tenant will wait till the final court date to appear and ask for a chance to get a lawyer and oppose it.

While this is against the court rules, courts allow the postponement, because of the important constitutional rights at play i.e. a tenant’s right to legal representation and adequate housing.

To best prevent a tenant from delaying the process, and causing a landlord further losses, it is highly advisable to appoint an eviction specialist right from the beginning.

Like any operation, if one tries to do it oneself, there are pros and cons; except, in the context of evictions, mistakes can cause long delays.

An opposed eviction can cost upwards of R50 000.

The best advice is to appoint, from the start, an experienced eviction lawyer, who is also a skilled negotiator and strategist.

At SD Law, we offer clients help with the eviction process, and strive to achieve the most practical and cost effective outcome, by being strategic.

Contact Simon at simon@sdlaw.co.za, if you want to know more about how we can help you successfully navigate your eviction issue.

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Eviction cost

How much does it cost to evict a tenant?

Eviction is an unpleasant word. It conjures up images of an uncaring landlord putting an unfortunate tenant out on the streets. It’s true that there are cases of unfair evictions. But for the most part, rental housing legislation now provides considerable protection to tenants and prevents the abuse of power by landlords that sometimes happened in the past.

Eviction cost - eviction lawyers

The law protects tenants…but it also assures property owners of certain rights. If you own property and it provides you with valuable income, you are entitled to enjoy your property and benefit financially from it without suffering misuse or abuse at the hands of your tenants. If the worst happens and you need to evict your tenants, what is the cost of eviction?

When should you consult an eviction attorney?

If the landlord-tenant relationship is harmonious, and both parties uphold the lease agreement, the word “eviction” is unlikely to arise. Eviction is the last resort when there is an unresolved breach of the lease. A breach can happen for a number of reasons, which may include failure to maintain the property or adhere to the conditions of the lease, but the most common cause for eviction is default in payment of rent. However, a landlord cannot simply evict a tenant for rent arrears. In fact, a landlord can’t evict a tenant at all. Only the courts can do that.

However tempting it may be to “do it yourself”, eviction is a legal process and it requires an eviction attorney. While you may wish to avoid eviction costs, delay in consulting an eviction lawyer can be a false economy. As the rent arrears pile up, you are losing money that may never be recovered. Spending money on expert eviction attorneys will ensure a speedier, smoother course of action and is likely to save you money in the long run – by limiting your losses and restoring the property to its income-earning status.

How much does an eviction cost?

The cost of an eviction will depend on the complexity of the situation. If a tenant is very stubborn and refuses to vacate the property, eviction costs can mount. An unopposed eviction will cost between R5 000 and R15 000. However, if the eviction is opposed, the cost can escalate to as much as R100 000 and the months can drag on. This is not a job for a layperson. Provided your eviction attorney follows the correct process, the court will award the eviction order – eventually – but getting the tenant out is another matter.

 

Call the Sheriff!

The court may grant your eviction order, but if the tenants simply dig their heels in and refuse to move, you may not legally remove them or their possessions from your property yourself. Only the Sheriff is authorised to do this. If you need the services of the Sheriff to forcibly effect the eviction, the cost will depend on the size of the property and the number of tenants. You can expect to pay from R1 000 to R10 000 in Sheriff’s costs.

Women and children first

Remember that PIE gives special consideration to vulnerable tenants – woman-headed households with children, the elderly and the disabled – so while you are not prohibited from evicting these tenants if they are in breach of the lease, you must allow them more time to find suitable alternative accommodation. This will add to your lost earnings and effectively increase the eviction cost, although it won’t generate additional legal costs.

Can you claim the eviction cost from the tenant?

While it may be technically possible to reclaim eviction charges from the tenant, in reality you are very unlikely to succeed in recouping your costs. If your tenant has defaulted on rent due to inability to pay, you may struggle even to recover the rent you are due. Expecting a financially stressed individual to come up with a five-figure sum in addition to unpaid rent is fanciful. You could sue for it, but the result will be the same. You can’t get blood out of a stone.

Consult a good eviction attorney

As we’ve highlighted, an eviction lawyer is essential if you have a troublesome tenant who doesn’t respond to reason and eviction is your only recourse. You can attempt to obtain an eviction order from the court yourself, but if you are not well versed in rental housing law your chances of success are much reduced. An eviction lawyer knows the intricacies of PIE and will make sure you don’t lose your case on a technicality.

Furthermore, an eviction attorney will save you money, despite the fee charged. If your rental income is R10 000 – R 20 000 per month it won’t take many months of rent arrears to lose you far more than your eviction will cost in legal fees. Cape Town lawyers Simon Dippenaar and Associates are experts in eviction law and will make sure your property is returned to its income-earning status as soon as possible! Contact Cape Town Eviction Attorneys on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za.

Source: Eviction Specialists

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