Illinois eviction laws vary from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the lease/rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord. It is always best to exercise meticulous file-keeping to avoid errors that could be exploited by the tenant.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures with your justice court to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Failure to comply with rent deadlines
Rent is usually considered late a day past it is due. A grace period may be available if stated in the lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start the eviction process, they are required to give the tenant an official written 5-Day Notice to Pay.
If rent is paid within those 5 days, then the filing for eviction does not continue. If they are unable to pay, the landlord reserves the right to continue filing for eviction.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
The rental lease agreement has to be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of their stay. Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant.
If a tenant violates any terms from the lease agreement, the landlord has to issue a 10-Day Notice to Comply or Quit. If the tenant resolves these issues on time, the eviction process does not continue.
Lease violations may include:
- Damage to the rental property
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
If the violations are not resolved or they remain on the property, then the landlord may continue with the eviction.
3. Conducting illegal activity
If a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, the landlord has to issue an official written a 5-Day Notice to Quit.
Examples of illegal activities are:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
The same applies if the tenant is involved in a class X felony. Examples of class X felonies include:
- Aggravated kidnapping, battery, sexual assault, hijacking, arson, etc.
- Armed robbery
- Home invasion
Landlords are advised to keep a close eye on their tenants to make sure illegal behavior does not go unnoticed.
4. Foreclosure of Rental Property
In this case, tenants are usually not allowed to renew their lease. The landlords have to issue a 90-Day Notice to Vacate.
The tenant has no choice but to leave the premises before the end of the notice period.
Landlords can continue with the eviction process if the tenant refuses to leave after the 90-day grace period.
5. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In Illinois, landlords cannot evict a tenant or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
But if they stay in the property even a day after their lease/rental agreement ends and have not arranged for a renewal, landlords can issue a written notice to move. The different notices include a 7-Day Notice to Quit, a 30-Day Notice to Quit, and a 60-Day Notice to Quit.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The eviction process can only begin after the issuance of the appropriate written notice. Enough notice time must have been allowed before filing for eviction.
The eviction process is as follows:
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- File a complaint
- Pay the fees
It takes about 5 to 90 days from the issuance of the Notice to Vacate/Quit.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
The documents have to be served at least 3 days before the hearing. An official from the court delivers the summons for the hearing and the complaint to the tenant.
This official either be a professional process server, the sheriff, or someone no younger than 18 years old who is uninvolved in the case.
There are several methods available:
- Personal Service: The court official delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable, someone living with the tenant who is over the age of 13 may receive the documents
- Mailing: The server mails the documents through certified or registered mail
- Posting: The court official leaves a copy of the documents for the tenant. It is placed in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rented property
Neither the landlord nor their lawyer is allowed to serve the documents to the tenant in this step of the eviction process.
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has at least 3 days before the eviction hearing to prepare.
The documents should be served to the tenant at least 3 days before the hearing is scheduled.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
The landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. Should the tenant fail to show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
But the tenant can ask to reschedule the hearing within 30 days of the default judgment if they were unable to attend it.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of Illinois, a reply from the tenant is not necessary for a court date to be scheduled. They only have to show up to the hearing. Although optional, tenants can file a written reply to the Complaint.
During the hearing, the landlord needs to support the claim with evidence and show it during the hearing.
This could include, but is not limited to the following:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations, correspondence, etc.
Eviction hearings are scheduled 7 to 40 days after the complaint was filed and a summons is issued to the tenant.
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant does not appeal for reconsideration, a Writ of Execution is issued within a few hours to a few days.
The Writ of Execution gives the tenant 7-14 days to vacate the property depending on the type of eviction. Evictions related to illegal activity gives tenants only 7 days to vacate the property.
2. Move out process
The sheriff, police officer, constable, or bailiff executes the Writ. Once the Writ is given to the tenant and/or pasted on the entrance to the rental unit, the tenant has to move out.
A tenant has a maximum of 14 days to move out unless they are being evicted for engaging in illegal activity.
Only the sheriff or the proper authorities are allowed to remove the tenant by force. Even if the landlord wins the case, they are not allowed to engage in illegal methods of eviction.
The state of Illinois does not specify what to do with a tenant’s belongings if they are outside the city of Chicago.
If any belongings are left behind, landlords are advised to contact the tenant and give them a reasonable timeframe to claim them.
After the timeframe has passed, the tenant’s property may be sold or disposed of.
However, if the rental property is within the limits of the city of Chicago, the landlord is required to store the belongings for at least 7 days. Beyond that, they made throw it out.
Any money earned by the landlord for the tenant’s belongings can be used to cover unpaid rent and any other outstanding costs.
The tenants have 7-14 days upon receiving the Writ of Execution to vacate the property
Illinois Eviction Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline does not include special cases such as requests for an appeal or continuance.
On average, it would take anywhere between 3 weeks to 6 months for a complete eviction process. This does not include any appeals for reconsideration.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, a letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Can I force a tenant to move out in Illinois?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
In the state of Illinois, tenants can sue their landlord for the following amounts:
- One month’s rent for every month utilities were cut off
- Consequential damages
- $300 to $5,000 for deliberate disregard of tenant’s rights
As another consequence of forceful eviction, the statute allows tenants to stay in the property.
Which eviction methods are illegal in Illinois?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
What are the penalties for a self-help eviction in Illinois?
According to Illinois Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting the landlord from committing any further violation throughout the rest of the eviction process.
What other laws should I know of in Illinois?
Landlords should be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of Illinois. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease/rental agreement or fail to pay their rent.
- NOLO: The Eviction Process in Illinois: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers
- Legal Templates: Illinois Eviction Notice
- Illinois Legal Aid Online: Housing, Coronavirus, and the Law
- NOLO: Consequences of Illegal Evictions
- NOLO: Illinois Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines
- The Law Office of Andrew Nickel, LLC: The Felony Illinois Handbook