In Illinois, tenants can be evicted for violating any portion of the lease or rental agreement. A few examples of lease violations include willfully damaging part of the rental unit, having a dog or cat when no pets are allowed, and having unauthorized guests.
This article will explain how a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the lease agreement under the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.
A landlord can send a tenant an eviction notice, also called a notice to quit, as soon as the landlord discovers the tenant has violated a portion of the lease agreement. Upon receiving the notice to quit, the tenant will have ten days to move out of the rental unit. The ten-day time frame begins on the day the notice to quit is given to the tenant and includes weekends and holidays. The landlord does not have to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the violation, if such an opportunity is even possible (see 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-210).
The notice to quit must be written and signed by the landlord and include the following statement:
"To A.B.: You are hereby notified that in consequence of your default in (here insert the character of the default) of the premises now occupied by you, being, etc., (here describe the premises, address, etc.) I have elected to terminate your lease, and you are hereby notified to quit and deliver up possession of the same to me within 10 days of this date (dated, etc.)" (see 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-210).
A sample ten-day eviction notice can be found at the Illinois Legal Aid website.
The landlord has three options when serving a notice to quit, 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 notice to quit is only valid if properly served to the tenant. If the landlord does not serve the notice to quit properly, then the ten-day time frame will not begin running. The landlord would then have to start the process from the beginning and serve the notice to quit properly.
A tenant only has two options when given a notice to quit in Illinois for a lease violation: either move out of the rental unit or don't move out.
If the tenant moves out of the rental unit within the ten-day time frame, then the landlord does not need to proceed with the eviction process. If there are damages to the rental unit because of the tenant's actions, then the landlord can use the tenant's security deposit to pay for the damages. If the security deposit does not cover the total amount in damages, then the landlord can sue the tenant to pay for the rest of the damages.
If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit within the ten-day time frame, then the landlord will need to file a lawsuit to take possession of the property. In Illinois, this lawsuit is called a forcible entry and detainer suit. Even if the tenant fixes the lease violation, the landlord still has the right to proceed with the eviction and file the eviction lawsuit with the court.
The landlord must successfully win the eviction lawsuit, or forcible entry and detainer suit, before taking legal possession of the property. The lawsuit must be filed in the county courthouse where the rental property is located. The landlord should carefully follow all the procedures when filing the eviction complaint and summons.
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. The only way to gain possession of the property is through winning the forcible entry and detainer lawsuit in the court.
A sample complaint for a forcible entry and detainer lawsuit and a sample summons can be found at the Illinois Legal Aid website.
The Nolo site includes several articles on on landlord-tenant laws in Illinois, including illegal eviction procedures in Illinois, and tenant defenses to evictions in Illinois; also see the Illinois charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo site. For more eviction-related articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site. Also, Illinois Legal Aid includes useful information and resources on the eviction process in Illinois.