State Evictions

Illinois Eviction Process

October 24, 2023

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Eviction In Illinois

If you own and rent properties in the state of Illinois, you are responsible for complying with Illinois eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Illinois. 

Illinois’ eviction laws can be found at 735 ILCS § 5/IX. 

Eviction Process in Illinois 

  1. Landlord serves a five- to ten-day eviction notice. 
  1. Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court. 
  1. Court serves the tenant a summons. 
  1. Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment. 
  1. Tenant gets seven to 14 days to move out. 
  1. Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant. 

Tenants in Illinois can be evicted for failing to pay rent, holding over after the lease expires, violating another lease term, or engaging in criminal activity on the premises.  

It’s important to note that under state law in Illinois, only full payment of the rent demanded waives the landlord’s right to terminate the lease and evict the tenant for nonpayment, unless the landlord agrees in writing to continue the lease in exchange for partial rent (735 ILCS § 5/9-209). However, In Chicago and Cook County, accepting any rent does constitute a waiver of the landlord’s right to terminate the lease for the named violation, including nonpayment (Cook County RLTO Section 42-809 (c)(1)(a)).

1. Landlord Serves a Five- to Ten-Day Eviction Notice 

When does eviction start in Illinois? If any of the above lease violations occur, the eviction process starts when the landlord serves an Illinois eviction notice and states that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Illinois: 

  • Rent Demand Notice: 5 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than five days after receipt of the notice) (735 ILCS § 5/9-209). 

Partial payments can be accepted during this five-day period, but they do not interfere with the eviction process unless the landlord agrees to extend the lease in exchange for partial payments. The landlord should include a statement asserting so in the rent demand notice. 

  • Lease Violation Notice: 10 days to quit. If a tenant violates another lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach the date on which the lease will terminate. The landlord is not required to give the tenant an opportunity to fix or “cure” the violation (735 ILCS § 5/9-210). Note: In Chicago, a 14-day lease violation notice is required if the tenant creates a condition that materially affects health and safety (Chicago Municipal Code 5-12-130(c)). 
  • Unconditional Notice to Quit: 5 days to quit. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant does any of the following on the leased premises: 
    • Unlawfully possesses, serves, stores, manufactures, cultivates, delivers, uses, sells, or gives away controlled substances or permits them to be used for any of those purposes on the leased premises 
    • Uses or permits the use of the property for a felony or Class A misdemeanor 

The landlord should use the forms provided by the circuit court clerk of the county where the property is located (735 ILCS § 5/9-120; 740 ILCS § 40/11). 

Eviction notices can be served to the tenant by an officer/process server or by the landlord themselves. Additionally, notices must be served to the tenant by one of the following methods as per 735 ILCS § 5/9-104, in addition to mailing a copy to the tenant by certified mail: 

  • Delivered to the tenant personally 
  • Left with a person at least 13 years old who lives in the unit 
  • If neither of the above can be done, by posting a copy at the premises 
  • If the person in possession is a squatter, by delivering a copy addressed to “unknown occupants” with anyone at the residence or by posting a copy on the premises 

For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees. 

2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court 

If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file an Eviction Complaint (downloadable here) with the Illinois Circuit Court for the county in which the property is located. E-filing is mandatory for most civil cases in Illinois, so landlords will need to fill out the complaint digitally and create an account with an e-filing service provider to file it. 

The complaint should state the grounds for the eviction and will include the following information: 

  • The county and case number 
  • The names of both parties 
  • A description/address for the rental property 
  • A statement that the landlord is entitled to possession of the property  
  • An explanation of how the tenant violated the lease 
  • The demands the landlord is making in addition to possession and court costs (e.g., the amount of past rent due, attorney’s fees, etc.) 
  • A checklist of documents that are attached to the Eviction Complaint (e.g., The eviction Demand or Notice, the Affidavit of Service of a Demand or Notice, the written lease agreement, etc.) 
  • The landlord’s signature, address, attorney number (if applicable), and contact information 

(735 ILCS § 5/9-106). 

The landlord may make a monetary claim for overdue rent at the same time as they make the complaint for possession. They will also need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county and claim amount. In Washington County, for example, the filing fee ranges from $104 to $321 depending on the amount being claimed, while in Cook County the fee could be as high as $388. 

3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons 

The next step in the Illinois eviction process is serving the summons. After the landlord files a claim, the court will issue a summons to be served with a copy of the complaint to the tenant by an officer or process server. The Eviction Summons form (downloadable here) should state the date of the court hearing, which will be held between seven and 40 days after the summons is issued (Ill. Sup. Ct. Rule 101(b)(2)). 

To inform the court that they’d like to participate in the case, the tenant must file an Appearance (downloadable here). The Appearance additionally gives the tenant a chance to request a jury trial. Illinois law also allows the landlord to request a jury trial (735 ILCS § 5/9-108). 

The tenant is not required to file a written answer to the complaint and can contest the eviction lawsuit at the trial itself. However, if they do choose to file one, the landlord will receive a copy of their Eviction Answer, Defenses, and Counterclaims (downloadable here). On this form, the tenant can deny any of the landlord’s allegations or raise any defense against them (735 ILCS § 5/9-106). The tenant may also present one of the following affirmative defenses: 

  • The tenant is a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking, or dating violence (so long as the tenant provides either medical, court, or police evidence) (735 ILCS § 5/9-106.2). 
  • The landlord’s claim is based solely or in part on the tenant’s citizenship or immigration status (735 ILCS § 5/9-106.3(a)(1)). 
  • The landlord’s claim is based solely or in part on the tenant’s failure to provide a social security number, information required to obtain a credit report, or another form of identification deemed acceptable by the landlord, and the tenant has already taken possession of the property (735 ILCS § 5/9-106.3(a)(2)). 

4. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment 

On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment.  

If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue an Eviction Order (downloadable here) for the landlord’s recovery of the rental premises. 

Importantly, the court could delay or stay the order’s execution between 60 and 180 days if it is shown that the landlord has previously given the tenant extensions to pay their overdue rent. The tenant can also vacate a default judgment—an automatic judgment awarded to the landlord if the tenant doesn’t attend the nonpayment trial–and therefore avoid being evicted by paying the entire amount due under the contract (plus reasonable attorney’s fees provided for in the lease) within 30 days. However, they cannot do so more than once within a five-year period (735 ILCS § 5/9-110). 

5. Tenant Gets Seven to 14 Days to Move Out 

The landlord must request the eviction order to be enforced by the sheriff’s office within 120 days after the judgment is entered. To do so, the landlord will first need to file the eviction order with the local sheriff’s office for a fee (e.g., in Cook County, the fee is $60.50). The sheriff will then post the eviction order at the tenant’s residence. If the eviction was for illegal activity or a drug-related action, the execution of the judgment will be no longer than seven days later (735 ILCS § 5/9-120). For other evictions, the tenant may be given one to two weeks of final notice to move out of the unit. 

6. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant 

If the tenant has not moved out of the unit within the time specified by the eviction order, the sheriff will return to forcibly remove the tenant from the premises. The landlord is not required to store any personal property that the tenant leaves behind. 

Evicting a Squatter in Illinois 

A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Illinois, squatters must have lived in the property for 20 years (or have color of title and pay property taxes for seven years) to invoke Illinois squatters rights and claim right of possession (735 ILCS § 5/13-101, 5/13-105). Their possession must also be: 

  • Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner 
  • Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property 
  • Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there. 
  • Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.  
  • Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession. 

While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Illinois to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Illinois, you should: 

  1. Call local law enforcement. 
  1. Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter. 
  1. If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer. 
  1. If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office. 
  1. Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Illinois eviction law. 
  1. If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process. 
  1. Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer. 

Illinois Eviction Cost Estimates 

This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Illinois, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress. 

Action Approximate Cost 
Filing fee Varies by county 
Service of court summons Varies by county; typically ~$50-$60 
Service of eviction order Varies by county 
Execution of eviction order by sheriff Varies by county; typically between $100 and $300. 
Legal fees $500-$10,000 
Average locksmith fees $160 
Storage fees for abandoned property Varies 
Tenant turnover costs Varies 

Illinois Eviction Time Estimates 

How long does it take to evict someone in Illinois? The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.  

Action Duration 
Eviction notice period 5-10 days 
Issuance and service of summons to tenant Varies 
Eviction hearing  7-40 days after filing 
Service of eviction order <120 days after judgment 
Time to quit after writ is posted 7-14 days 
 Total  1-5 months 

Court Documents 

Additional Resources 

  • Illinois Rules on Civil Proceedings in the Trial Court – These are the specific rules of civil procedure and court policies in Illinois. 
  • Illinois Court Forms – This page provides links to the various forms required in landlord-tenant court, all of which have been approved by the Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice and must be accepted in all Illinois courts. 

Conclusion 

The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Illinois laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state. 

Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information. 

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