A landlord can evict a tenant in Illinois for a variety of reasons. Before beginning the eviction lawsuit, though, the landlord must first terminate the tenancy. The landlord typically does this by giving the tenant a written notice, as required by law. If the tenant does not comply with the written notice, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court (this lawsuit is also sometimes referred to as a forcible entry and detainer suit).
Different types of notices and procedures will be needed for different situations. This article explains the rules and procedures landlords must follow when evicting a tenant or ending a tenancy in Illinois.
A landlord must have a legal reason, or cause, to make a tenant move out of a rental unit before the tenancy term has ended. There could be several potential reasons for a landlord to end a tenancy early. The most common reasons have to do with the tenant not paying rent or violating the lease or rental agreement. The landlord can also end a tenancy early if the tenant has used or dealt drugs at the rental unit. Different notices are needed for these different situations.
If a landlord does not have cause to terminate a tenancy, then the landlord must wait until the end of the lease term before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord may still need to give the tenant notice.
If a landlord would like to terminate a month-to-month rental agreement or lease, the landlord will need to give the tenant a 30-day notice. This notice will inform the tenant that the tenancy will expire at the end of 30 days and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time (see 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-207). Illinois Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.
If a tenant has a lease or rental agreement that is for a fixed term, such as six months or one year, and the landlord wants the tenant to move but does not have cause, then the landlord will need to wait until the end of the tenancy before doing anything. The lease or rental agreement may require the landlord to give the tenant written notice to move at the end of the term. However, if the lease or rental agreement does not require this, then the landlord does not need to give the tenant any notice to move. The landlord can expect the tenant to move at the end of the term, unless the tenant has indicated a desire to stay.
A tenant always has the option to fight the eviction, even if the landlord thinks the eviction lawsuit is justified. If a tenant does wish to defend against the eviction, then the landlord should expect the lawsuit to take longer than normal. The tenant may have a valid defense, such as the landlord making procedural mistakes during the eviction (for example, improperly serving a notice or not waiting long enough before filing the eviction lawsuit) or the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit according to law. For more information on tenant defenses, see Tenant Defenses to Eviction Notices in Illinois.
It is illegal for a landlord to try to force a tenant to move out of a rental unit. Even if the landlord is successful with the eviction lawsuit, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a sheriff or constable. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Illinois has more information on this topic.
After the tenant moves out of the rental unit, the landlord might find personal property that the tenant left behind. If the rental unit is in Chicago city limits, the landlord must store the personal property for seven days. If the tenant does not claim the property within seven days, then the landlord can dispose of the property (see City of Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance § 5-12-130). For abandoned property in a location other than the city of Chicago, the landlord should take reasonable steps to inform the tenant of the property and give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to claim the property before the landlord disposes of it. Handling a Tenant's Abandoned Property in Illinois has more information on this topic.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Illinois law when evicting a tenant. Otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, with the end result being that the tenant has lost his or her home. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new place to live.