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The need to file an eviction may arise for many different reasons. The most common reasons include a tenant’s failure to timely pay rent, a tenant’s failure to comply with other provisions, rules and regulations of a lease or a tenant’s refusal to surrender possession of the premises at the conclusion of the lease. It is advisable to begin the eviction process soon after a breach of the lease or tenancy occurs in order to minimize your potential losses. While the eviction process may seem daunting and stressful, we will use our extensive experience to guide you through the process.
In Illinois, landlords are precluded from using “self-help” measures to regain possession of their property. Instead, the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, 735 ILCS 5/9-101, et. seq., provides the exclusive procedure that must be followed to regain possession of a property from a tenant or other occupant. An owner or landlord must strictly comply with the requirements of the Statute in order to be entitled to the remedies made available by the Statute. The failure to strictly comply with the Statute’s requirements may result in unnecessary delays in the eviction process or the eviction case being dismissed.
In most instances, an owner or landlord of real property is required to serve a written notice prior to filing an eviction case. The type of notice required and its contents will vary depending on the basis for the eviction, the specific terms of the lease, and the location of the property. The notice must also be properly served upon the tenant or occupant you wish to evict. Some local municipalities (such as Chicago and Evanston) have enacted ordinances that govern residential landlord-tenant relationships and which provide tenants with rights and remedies not available under State law. The failure to serve an appropriate notice or to properly serve the notice in the manner required by State or local law is likely to cause unnecessary delays in the eviction process and may result in the eviction case being dismissed.
Once the appropriate notice is served and the notice period has elapsed, the eviction case can be filed. The process begins with the preparation and filing of a summons and complaint with the Clerk of the Court. The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, 735 ILCS 5/9-106, permits an owner or landlord to seek possession of the property and a claim for rent may be included in the complaint. Other claims, such as claims for property damage, cannot be brought as part of the eviction case. The summons and complaint must be served upon the tenant or occupant named therein. If the initial summons is not served, the Court lacks jurisdiction (or the authority) to enter any order against the named defendants as they have not received proper notice of the case pending against them. In such a situation, we are required to prepare and file a second summons (an “Alias Summons”). We can either have the local Sheriff or a court appointed special process server attempt to serve the Alias Summons and complaint to the Defendants. If diligent attempts at personally serving the defendants prove unsuccessful, the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, 735 ILCS 5/9-107, permits an owner or landlord to resort to “constructive service” by having notice of the case “posted” and mailed to the defendants.
At the conclusion of the case, if the defendants fail to vacate the property within the time period granted by the Court, we are required to ask the Sheriff to enforce the Order for Possession entered by the Court. Only the Sheriff is permitted to enforce the Court’s Order for Possession and to physically “evict” the tenants/occupants, their children and pets from the premises. Thus, even if the tenant/occupant fails to move out within the time granted by the Court, an owner or landlord may not lock the tenant out of the premises or utilize any other self-help measures (such as disconnecting utilities) in an attempt to evict the tenant.
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1.How long will the eviction process take?
On average, the eviction process can take 40-90 days after the tenancy or occupant’s right to possession of the property has been terminated. We are able to secure an initial court date fifteen (15) days from the date the eviction complaint is filed. This court date is contingent on the named defendants being served with the summons and complaint. If the defendants are not served, we are required to make additional attempts to serve them and each subsequent round of service attempts generates a court date fifteen (15) days from the date on which we issue a subsequent summons. Once the defendants have been served and you prove your case in Court, the defendants will generally be granted seven (7) to fourteen (14) days to vacate the property. The Court may grant more than this standard amount of time if the defendants have resided at the premises for a significant period of time or if they are elderly or disabled. If the defendants fail to vacate the property within the time granted by the Court and we are required to schedule an eviction with the Sheriff’s office, the estimated wait time for the Sheriff is three (3) to six (6) weeks. The wait time for the Sheriff varies depending on the time of year and weather conditions; the wait times tend to be shorter during the summer and fall and longer during the winter and early spring months.
2.What are some common delays that can arise in the eviction process?
A.The Sheriff may be unable to serve the initial summons and complaint. If we are required to make additional attempts to serve the defendants, each subsequent round of service attempts generates a court date fifteen (15) days from the date on which we issue a subsequent summons.
B.A defendant may request a continuance when the case is in Court for the first time. Unlike other cases in which a defendant may be able to request and obtain several continuances, a defendant in an eviction case is generally allowed a single seven (7) day continuance.
C.A defendant may file a post-trial motion. If the defendant files a motion within thirty (30) days after the Order for Possession is entered in your favor, the Sheriff will not enforce the Order for Possession until the Judge has ruled on the defendant’s motion.
Most eviction cases will involve one (but seldom all) of the above delays.
3.What are some uncommon delays that can arise in the eviction process?
A.The defendant may request a jury trial. The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, 735 ILCS 5/9-108, grants either party the absolute right to request a trial by jury in any case involving residential property. In cases involving commercial property, the right to a trial by jury can be waived if the commercial lease contains such a waiver. Once a jury demand has been filed, the eviction case follows a more formal case management track.
B.The defendant retains counsel or secures assistance from a legal aid organization or other “pro bono” legal services provider.
C.The defendant files a bankruptcy. Upon the filing of a bankruptcy, an “automatic stay” immediately goes into effect and prohibits creditors, in most instances, from taking or continuing any action against the debtor. We are in most instances required to prepare, file and present a motion in the United States Bankruptcy Court seeking to lift or to modify the “automatic stay” to permit us to proceed with the eviction in State court.
4.How much will this cost?
The fees for filing an eviction and the Sheriff’s charges to serve process vary by County. The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois charges a fee of $237.00 to file an eviction seeking possession and less than $15,000.00 in rent damages. The filing fee increases to $432.00 for eviction cases seeking possession and rent damages in excess of $15,000.00. The Cook County Sheriff’s charge for serving process is $60.00 per named defendant. Please contact our office for details concerning filing and service fees in other counties. We offer competitive flat-fee rates for both residential and commercial evictions.
Most eviction cases are filed as a result of a tenant’s failure to pay rent. However, other breaches of the lease may also serve as a basis for the filing of an eviction action. In most instances, a landlord is required to first prepare and properly serve an appropriate notice before an eviction can be filed. The information that must be included in the notice will vary depending on the nature of the lease breach, the provisions of the parties’ lease agreement, and local and state laws that may apply in your specific situation. The failure to serve a proper notice is likely to cause unnecessary delays in the eviction process and may result in the eviction case being dismissed. Contact Dave Bejgiert at (312) 372-3445 prior to serving a notice to determine the appropriate notice necessary in your specific situation.