Eviction laws in Illinois are designed to protect both landlords and tenants, ensuring landlords follow fair and lawful procedures when seeking to remove a tenant from a rental property.

Understanding these laws is crucial for landlords to navigate the eviction process in Illinois correctly and for tenants to know their rights and obligations. For landlords, knowing the eviction laws helps in enforcing lease agreements and regaining possession of their property in cases of nonpayment of rent or lease violations.

Tenants can also benefit from understanding these laws to know their rights regarding eviction notices, court hearings, and eviction defenses. This article explores Illinois eviction laws and the eviction process.

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When Is an Eviction Appropriate?

Eviction is a judicial process in Illinois, meaning landlords must file a lawsuit to evict a tenant, which the court will then review. If the landlord proves their case, the court will issue an order for the tenant to vacate the premises. In Illinois, landlords can initiate evictions for various reasons, including nonpayment of rent and lease violations.

Nonpayment of Rent

Nonpayment of rent is one of the most common reasons for eviction. Under Illinois law, landlords must provide tenants a five-day notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant fails to pay rent within that period, the landlord can proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit.

Lease Violations

Another common reason for eviction is a breach of the rental agreement by the tenant, such as damaging the property, having unauthorized pets, or engaging in illegal activities. Landlords must give tenants a 10-day notice to comply with the lease terms or vacate the premises. If the tenant does not remedy the violation within the allotted time, the landlord can proceed with an eviction.

Other Reasons

Landlords can also evict tenants for reasons other than nonpayment of rent or lease violations. Common reasons include holdover tenancy, illegal activity, nuisance behavior, health and safety violations, and violation of building codes. However, landlords must follow legal procedures and provide tenants with notice before evicting them for these reasons.

Notice Process

In eviction cases, landlords must adhere to specific notice requirements. Landlords must

  • Provide tenants with a five-day notice to pay rent or vacate the premises;
  • Serve the notice personally by leaving a copy at the tenant’s residence, or by sending it through certified or registered mail; and
  • Proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit if the tenant fails to pay the rent within five days.

For lease violations, the landlord must provide the tenant with ten days’ notice instead of five. Tenants facing Illinois evictions for nonpayment of rent or lease violations can pay the amount owed or remedy the violation within the notice period to avoid eviction. If there is a legitimate dispute regarding the rent amount or another valid reason for nonpayment, tenants can defend against eviction in court.

The Illinois Eviction Process

Illinois law requires landlords to follow a judicial process to evict tenants.

  1. Notice. The first step in the eviction process serves to inform the tenant of the landlord’s intent to evict them. The notice must be served personally, by leaving a copy at the tenant’s residence, or by sending it through certified or registered mail.
  2. Filing the eviction complaint. After serving the notice and waiting the required period, typically five days for nonpayment of rent or ten days for lease violations, the landlord can file an eviction complaint with the court.
  3. Court hearing. Tenants have the right to appear in court, present their case, and defend against eviction. They can dispute the landlord’s claims and provide evidence to support their defense.
  4. Decision. The court will hear both parties’ arguments and evidence and issue a judgment. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, it will issue an order for the tenant to vacate the premises, but if the court rules in favor of the tenant, the eviction is denied and the tenant can remain in the property.
  5. Writ of possession. If the court rules in favor of the landlord and issues an order for eviction, the landlord can request a Writ of Possession from the court. This writ authorizes the sheriff’s deputy to physically remove the tenant from the property.

After eviction, tenants have a limited time to remove their belongings from the property. They may also have the right to request a hearing to dispute any charges for unpaid rent or damages claimed by the landlord.

How Long Is the Eviction Process in Illinois?

The eviction process timeline in Illinois can vary depending on various factors, including the specific circumstances of the case and the efficiency of the court system in the relevant jurisdiction. Generally, the process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. The process can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session, and other possible delays.

What Are the Rights of Tenants Facing Eviction in Illinois?

Tenants facing eviction in Illinois have several rights to prevent wrongful eviction.

  • Due process. Tenants have the right to receive proper notice before being evicted. This includes a written notice stating the reason for the eviction and a period of time to respond or vacate the premises.
  • Right to defend. Tenants have the right to defend against the eviction in court. This includes the right to present evidence, call witnesses, and argue their case before a judge.
  • Right to legal representation. Tenants have the right to be represented by an attorney during the eviction process. Legal representation can help tenants understand their rights and navigate the proceedings effectively.
  • Right to privacy. Landlords must follow proper procedures when entering the rental property, especially during an eviction. Tenants have the right to privacy and should not be subjected to harassment or unlawful entry by the landlord.
  • Right to remain in the property. Tenants have the right to remain on the property until a court orders their eviction. Even after receiving a notice to vacate, tenants have the right to stay in the property until the court rules in favor of the landlord and issues an eviction order.

Understanding these rights is crucial for landlords and tenants facing eviction in Illinois. It’s also important to note that location does matter when it comes to landlord/tenant matters. For example, Cook County tenants have access to the county’s Early Resolution Program which provides free legal advice, rental assistance, mediation services, and help with settlement negotiations. An experienced attorney can help you navigate these local nuances. 

Self-Help Measures

In Illinois, landlords and tenants may not take “self-help” measures. Landlords should not change the locks or shut off utilities to force a tenant out. Doing so is considered a “self-help” eviction, which is illegal in Illinois. Under certain circumstances, a tenant may withhold rent for necessary repairs.

State law allows tenants to withhold rent or deduct the cost of repairs from the rent if the landlord fails to maintain the premises in a habitable condition. However, a tenant must first provide written notice to the landlord and allow a reasonable time for the repairs.

If the landlord does not make the repairs within a reasonable time, the tenant may proceed with withholding rent or deducting the cost of repairs. However, a party in either situation should seek legal advice before making any decisions to ensure their rights are protected.

Contact Us

Landlords and tenants facing legal disputes should not attempt to solve them without proper advice. If you find yourself facing an eviction issue, the team at Vantage Group Legal Services is here to help.

Call us or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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