In Illinois, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent as soon as the rent is due. Upon receiving an eviction notice, sometimes referred to as a notice to quit or notice to pay rent or quit, the tenant will have five days to either pay the rent or move out of the rental unit before the landlord can start an eviction lawsuit.
This article will explain the procedures landlords must follow when evicting a tenant for not paying rent in Illinois according to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, specifically 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-209.
Due Dates for Rent in Illinois
Unless the lease or rental agreement says otherwise, rent is typically due on the first day of every month. This includes weekends and holidays. Sometimes the landlord may agree that rent will be due on the next business day following a weekend or holiday, but this agreement must be specified in the lease or rental agreement.
Time Frames for Eviction Notices in Illinois
As soon as a tenant fails to pay rent on time, a landlord can begin the eviction process. This means the landlord can give the tenant an eviction notice, also called a notice to quit or notice to pay rent or quit, the very day after rent is due. Upon receiving the notice to quit, the tenant will have five days to either pay the rent or move out of the rental property. The five-day time frame begins on the date the notice is given to the tenant. Weekends and holidays are included in the five-day time frame (see 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-209).
Information Included in Illinois Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent
The notice to quit must be written and include the following information:
- date the notice was served on the tenant(s)
- name(s) and address of tenant(s) rental unit
- the reason for the notice (that the tenant failed to pay rent for a specified period of time)
- total amount of rent past due, including any late charges, and where and to whom the rent and late charges should be paid
- a statement that the tenant has five days to pay the rent and late charges ( the notice should specify the exact date by which this must happen) or move out
- an ultimatum that the landlord may pursue legal action (an eviction lawsuit) if the tenant does not pay the entire rent within five days or move, and
- a statement specifying how the notice was given to the tenant, either by actually giving the notice to the tenant or posting the notice on the tenant's door.
The landlord does not have to accept partial rent payments during this five-day time period. If the landlord chooses to not accept a partial rent payment, then the eviction notice must also include the following statement:
"Only FULL PAYMENT of the rent demanded in this notice will waive the landlord's right to terminate the lease under this notice, unless the landlord agrees in writing to continue the lease in exchange for receiving partial payment."
If the landlord does not include this statement, then the tenant can pay any portion of the rent due and owing within the five days and not move out of the rental unit (see 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-209), and the landlord would not be able to proceed with the eviction lawsuit.
Serving Eviction Notices to Tenants in Illinois
The landlord has three options when serving an eviction notice, according to 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-211:
1. The landlord, or an agent of the landlord, can personally give the notice to the tenant or to someone at least 13 years old who also lives at the rental property.
2. The landlord can mail a copy of the three-day notice by registered mail or certified mail with a returned receipt requested.
3. If the landlord is unable to give the notice directly to the tenant, the landlord can post the eviction notice at the rental unit in a conspicuous place, such as taped to the front door of the rental unit.
The landlord must serve the eviction notice properly, or the five-day time frame will not be in effect. If the landlord does not serve the eviction notice properly, the landlord will have to create a new notice and re-start the process following all the procedures.
Tenant Responses When Served with a Five-Day Eviction Notice in Illinois
A tenant has several options when responding to eviction notices, and the way a tenant responds will affect the landlord's next steps:
- If the tenant pays the rent within the five-day time period, then the eviction process is over. If the tenant fails to pay rent in the future, the landlord must give the tenant a new eviction notice and repeat the eviction process.
- If the tenant does not pay the rent, but moves out within five days, the landlord may use the tenant’s security deposit (if any) to cover the unpaid rent. If the security deposit does not cover all the rent due and owing, including late charges, then the landlord can sue the tenant for the rent still owed.
- If the tenant does not pay the rent within the five days and does not move out of the property, then the landlord will need to file a lawsuit to take possession of the property. This lawsuit is also called a forcible entry and detainer suit.
Eviction Lawsuits in Illinois
The landlord must file an eviction lawsuit, or forcible entry and detainer suit, in the county courthouse where the rental property is located. In order to take legal possession of the property, the landlord must successfully win the eviction lawsuit in court.
Landlords must not engage in "self-help" practices, such as changing the locks (see 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 735/1.4) or shutting off the utilities, to evict a tenant. A landlord should carefully follow all the procedures when filing the eviction complaint and summons.
A sample complaint for a forcible entry and detainer lawsuit and a sample summons can be found at the Illinois Legal Aid website.
More on Illinois Landlord-Tenant Laws
The Nolo site includes several articles on landlord-tenant laws in Illinois, including illegal eviction procedures in Illinois and tenant defenses to eviction notices in Illinois; also, see the Illinois charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the site. For more on eviction-related articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site. And for more information, on landlord-tenant law in Illinois, see Your Rights as a Landlord or Tenant in Illinois, published by the Southern Illinois University School of Law's Self-Help Legal Center. Chicago tenants should check out the Rents Right section of the City of Chicago's website.