How to Properly Handle an Eviction

If you are an Illinois landlord, you will probably run into a situation where you have to evict a tenant. They may be months behind on their rent, interfering with other tenants, damaging the property or even engaging in some form of illegal activity. Alternatively, they may have done nothing wrong at all and perhaps a family member is moving back home and you want the unit to be available for this person.

Whatever the reason, there are procedures that you need to follow depending upon the reason for terminating the tenancy.

“Self-Help” Evictions
You may have heard about landlords who forced bothersome tenants to quit the premises by changing the locks, turning off utilities, or refusing to make necessary repairs; but this form of “self-help eviction” is illegal and can result in your future eviction action being dismissed by the court. You may also be liable for damages and further violate local ordinances, so it is imperative to always follow the correct procedures for your situation.

Notice for Termination with Cause
If you want a tenant to move before their lease has expired, you need a legal reason to do so. There are different notices for most situations that are serious enough to warrant eviction. They include:

• “Five-Day Notice” to Pay Rent. Once behind on a rent payment, this notice informs the tenant that unless they pay the rent in full within five days, you will begin eviction proceedings.

• “Ten-Day Notice” to Quit. If the tenant violates a material rental agreement term, this notice requires them to correct the noncompliance or move out within 10 days. If they do neither, you can evict them.

• Unconditional Quit Notice. Reserved for illegal situations such as where the tenant possesses, uses, or sells illegal drugs in their unit; this notice requires them to move out within five days or be evicted.

Notice for Termination without Cause
If you don’t have cause to terminate the tenancy, you will have to wait until the lease term is up before expecting your tenant to move out. If you plan on not renewing a particular tenancy, you will need to provide the tenant with a “30-Day Notice” to Quit. However, you should certainly seek legal advice about the proper timing for providing the same. Additionally, if you and your tenant are presently in a month-to-month lease, you likewise need to give them a 30-day notice that the tenancy will not be renewed. If the lease is fixed-term (such as one year), you still would want to provide written notice but this could also depend on the terms of the rental agreement.

Service of the Notice
The tenant must be served with notice of the eviction. In Illinois, this may be accomplished by providing the notice to the tenant, a member of the household who is at least 13 years old, or by registered or certified mail. If you plan on seeking monetary damages for non-payment of rent, then service via hand-delivery is an absolute requirement. You should also plan on presenting a copy of the notice and a notarized certificate of service to the court.

If the Tenant Doesn’t Leave
If the tenant doesn’t leave after the notice period has expired, the next step is to file and serve a Forcible Entry and Detainer action. The sheriff or a process server will serve the tenant with a summons indicating the time, date, and location of the hearing. If the court decides in your favor, it will issue a judgment ordering the tenant to vacate; the court could also enter a monetary judgment assuming you properly filed the complaint (variously referred to as a joint action).

While these are the general steps for evicting a tenant in Illinois, the process is not always straightforward. Even when outstanding rent monies are owed, many tenants still fight their evictions; this can result in a frustrating series of court appearances and added costs (and/or attorneys fees) for the landlord. Some derisively refer to those who don’t pay and won’t leave as “professional tenants” who allegedly know how to “work the system.” Although it is true that some tenants are extremely familiar with preventing the final eviction trial date from going forward, our office does not fault tenants for exercising the rights afforded them by the courts. Nonetheless, our attorneys seek to serve our landlords, property owners, property managers, and condominium association clients in an expeditious and cost-effective manner to have the property vacated as soon as practicable. Finally, if you read this far good for you (and here is your reward): Be sure to ask one of our attorneys about an often little-known motion to ensure that a judge will force a tenant to pay you rent even while the “professional tenant” seems to expertly drag the process out.

The best way to reclaim your property as soon as possible is to work with an experienced attorney who can ensure that the eviction is handled properly on your end.

At Auricchio Law Offices, we understand the often-complicated state eviction laws and will guide you through each stage, from notice to eviction. If necessary, we will also protect your rights in court. For more information, please call 312-263-0010 or contact us.

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Auricchio Law Offices

Auricchio Law Offices in Chicago provides a complete range of real estate services. We facilitate residential and commercial real estate transactions, advise and represent condominium associations, and represent property owners in real estate litigation. Whatever your real estate issue, we will work diligently to achieve your goals in a timely and efficient manner.

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