UPDATED: February 13, 2020
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A set of laws govern the manner in which Illinois landlords may evict tenants. While changing the locks or disconnecting vital services may seem like the easiest way to get rid of unwanted tenants, such behavior is unlawful and carries the potential for penalties. Instead, landlords must go through a multi-step process laid out by the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.
Available Illinois Termination Notices
Before evicting a tenant, Illinois landlords generally need to terminate a tenancy by serving proper notice. But there are a couple of important exceptions to serving notice. First, if a lease expires, the tenancy is terminated without the need for notice. Second, a landlord may not have to serve notice before beginning court action to evict if a tenant is behind on their rent by half a year or more. Otherwise, a landlord must terminate the rental agreement before proceeding with the eviction. The particular notice that must be given to terminate the agreement depends on the circumstances.
If you have a rental agreement without any specific expiration date, you must give prior written notice that the tenancy is being terminated. Illinois requires the following different termination notices:
Week-to-Week: Rent is paid weekly. A 7 day notice must be given. [735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Section 5/9-207]
Less than a Year: Rent is not paid weekly but is paid for a term under a year (such as a month-to-month). A 30 day notice must be given. [735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Section 5/9-207]
Year-to-Year: Rent is paid yearly. A 60 day notice must be given. [735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Section 5/9-205]
In the case of a lease that hasn't expired yet, Illinois generally allows for termination by the landlord for unpaid rent or if the tenant is violating another provision of the lease. The termination notices are:
Demand for Rent or Action for Possession: This is a 5-day notice. In Illinois, tenants have 5 days to pay their full rent or the rental agreement is terminated. [735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Section 5/9-209]
Notice to Quit: This is a 10-day notice. In Illinois, a landlord may terminate the lease for lease violations (other than nonpayment) and give the tenant 10 days to move out. [735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Section 5/9-210]
How do I Serve Notice?
Illinois requires notices to be served in a particular manner. Any demand or notice must be in writing and given to the tenant or left with someone 13 years or older who resides at the premises. It may also be sent by certified or registered mail with a return receipt from the address. If no one is in actual possession of the premises, then the notice may be posted on the premises. If someone other than an authorized officer serves notice, they should swear to the circumstances of the service in a notarized document. Serving notice can be a tricky matter. You may wish to consult an Illinois evictions lawyer.
In Illinois, evictions are handled in circuit court. Find your local circuit court at the Illinois Courts website. Some Legal Aid websites may have landlord/tenant forms available to download for free. While it may seem easy (simply fill out the form and voila! - your tenant is out), sometimes events do not unfold as smoothly as you had hoped. If you are unsure of the termination and/or eviction process at any point, you may wish to hire or consult an Illinois landlord or tenant attorney. Also see Questions to Ask your Illinois Evictions Lawyer below.
Self-Help Evictions in Illinois
The penalties for using self-help eviction methods in Illinois vary depending on the location. In Chicago, for instance, it is a criminal offense for a landlord to change locks or turn off utilities in an attempt to evict a tenant. State law requires that a landlord furnish a tenant with keys within 48 hours if the locks are changed or be liable for any damages suffered by the tenant. [765 Ill. Comp. Stat. Section 750/25]
Questions to Ask Your Illinois Evictions Lawyer
- How many evictions cases have you handled?
- How many were successful/unsuccessful?
- How long will the eviction process take?
- For tenants: How long do I have before I MUST move out?
- For landlords: Will I be able to get a judgment for back rent for the amount of time the tenant has been living in the rental property illegally?
- What do you charge?
- For landlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?