Unable or unwilling to sell their real estate, many people have become first time landlords. They are unfamiliar with the process of dealing with a problem tenant. The following is a summary of Illinois law on the subject. Feel free to contact us if you need help dealing with a tenant who is not paying rent or is otherwise violating material terms of their lease. The process is complicated so you need a lawyer to assist you.
- Illinois law requires that you give your tenant an opportunity to cure any lease violations. With a written lease, you must give a 5 day notice for non-payment of rent and an opportunity to pay in full even when the tenant is late. With a verbal lease, a 30 day notice is required. For lease violations such as property damage or nuisance, a 30 day opportunity to cure is most often needed.
- Notices to cure must be properly served on the tenant. Personal service on the tenant or other occupant 14 years of age or older is best. Certified mail can work but is often refused by tenants. Simply hanging a notice on the door or sliding it under the door is usually not enough.
- Self help must be avoided. A landlord cannot change the locks without a court order. The landlord also cannot enter the property without notice to clean up or make repairs. A process using the courts to enforce the lease and/or remove the tenants must be followed.
- A typical eviction case can take us much as 6-8 weeks to complete. Strict rules for the paperwork used and service of process must be followed. Your tenant has the opportunity to dispute your claims and a trial before a judge is sometimes necessary.
- Once a court order granting the landlord the right to retake possession is entered, that order must be enforced by the sheriff, not solely by the landlord.