Tenant Landlord Litigation Costs: What You Need to Know

By A.I. Adrinfo, Edited by Doug Katz – 04/28/23

Tenant landlord litigation can be a costly and time-consuming process. If you’re a landlord or a tenant, it’s essential to understand the potential costs involved in a legal dispute.  It’s difficult to provide an exact percentage of landlord-tenant disputes that are won by landlords since the outcome of each case depends on various factors, such as the strength of the evidence, the legal arguments presented, and the judge or jury’s interpretation of the law. Additionally, the definition of “winning” can vary based on the specific circumstances of the dispute.

However, according to a study by the American Bar Association, landlords tend to win more eviction cases than tenants. The study found that landlords won 79% of eviction cases, while tenants won only 21%. It’s worth noting, however, that this study only looked at eviction cases, which are a subset of all landlord-tenant disputes.  Furthermore, the outcome of a dispute can vary depending on the state and local laws, as well as the specific circumstances of the case. For example, in some states, tenants may have stronger legal protections than in others, which can affect the outcome of a dispute. In some cases, tenants may also have counterclaims or defenses that can significantly impact the outcome of the case.

Overall, it’s important to consult with an attorney or other legal professional to understand the specific laws and procedures that apply to your situation and to ensure that you have the best possible chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your dispute.  You should, however, always be able to analyze the potential costs yourself as part of your risk assessment.  In this article, we’ll break down the typical costs of tenant landlord litigation so that you can make an informed decision about whether to pursue legal action.  Please note that every on of these are not applicable in every case but there are circumstances when one or all do apply and the costs are cumulative.

  1. Attorney Fees: One of the most significant costs of tenant landlord litigation is attorney fees. If you decide to hire an attorney, you’ll typically pay an hourly rate for their services. The cost of an attorney can vary depending on their level of experience and the complexity of the case. According to the National Consumer Law Center, attorney fees for a simple eviction case can range from $500 to $1,500. For more complex cases involving multiple issues, such as discrimination or breach of contract, the fees can be much higher.
  2. Court Fees: Another significant cost of tenant landlord litigation is court fees. Depending on the type of case and the court you file in, you may need to pay fees for filing a complaint, attending a hearing, and obtaining copies of court documents. The fees can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the case. For example, in California, the filing fee for an unlawful detainer (eviction) case is currently $240. In New York, the filing fee for a small claims case is $15 for claims up to $1,000, and $20 for claims up to $5,000.
  3. Expert Witnesses: In some cases, expert witnesses may be necessary to prove your case. For example, if you’re a tenant claiming that your landlord failed to make necessary repairs, you may need to hire a building inspector to testify about the condition of the property. The cost of expert witnesses can vary depending on their level of expertise and the amount of time they spend on the case. According to the National Consumer Law Center, the cost of hiring a building inspector to testify in a habitability case can range from $500 to $2,500.
  4. Mediation or Arbitration Fees: In some cases, tenants and landlords may choose to resolve their disputes through mediation or arbitration rather than going to court. While these options can be less costly than going to court, they still involve fees. Mediation and arbitration fees can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the length of the proceedings. For example, the American Arbitration Association charges a filing fee of $300 for disputes up to $10,000, and an additional fee of $1,500 for disputes between $50,001 and $75,000.

Just know that tenant landlord litigation can be a costly and time-consuming process. If you’re considering legal action, it’s essential to understand the potential costs involved. Attorney fees, court fees, expert witness fees, and mediation or arbitration fees can all add up quickly. Before deciding to pursue legal action, weigh the potential costs against the potential benefits and consider alternative solutions such as mediation or arbitration. Remember, the actual costs of tenant landlord litigation can vary widely depending on the specifics of your case and the jurisdiction you’re in, so it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney to get a better idea of what to expect.

Disclaimer: This article was created with the assistance of multiple ChatGPT AI language models and has been edited and refined by Douglas Katz. The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional or expert advice. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of ChatGPT or OpenAI. Readers are advised to do their own research and consult with relevant experts before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.