The Ultimate Guide To Evicting A Tenant - Main Image

Evicting a tenant requires following strict procedures and rules. There are several laws on how to evict a tenant to protect both the tenant and the landlord. In addition, both the tenant and the landlord have rights and responsibilities they should be aware of before signing the rental agreement. Before we go into too much detail about how to evict a tenant, let's first uncover what a tenant and landlord are, their rights and responsibilities, and finally, how to evict a tenant.

A landlord is the name of the owner of the real estate property. They are the property owners and are responsible for leasing it to the tenant. The tenant is the one who agrees to the rental agreement and pays the landlord rent, usually on the first of the month. The landlord is the one responsible for enforcing the lease agreement, including, when necessary, evicting a tenant.

Despite a landlord's best efforts to screen potential troublesome tenants, sometimes things happen, and evictions must be ordered. Written and verbal warnings are typically given before an eviction is ordered. In addition, there are strict rules to follow when evicting a tenant. Our guide will share all the details. Make sure to read until the finish to find out all the details of how to evict a tenant.

Rights and Responsibilities of the Landlord:


It's critical as a landlord to understand the various rights and responsibilities a landlord has before we get to how to evict a tenant. Below are a handful of the rights and responsibilities of a landlord. It's essential that the rental market is closely governed and that the rules are clear. However, these are not the only responsibilities of a landlord. 

A landlord may enter the residence for legitimate reasons and with proper notice. However, they may not enter at any time or without warning. The tenant is entitled to notice and a reason.

  • The landlord must keep the property maintained. This includes doing whatever maintenance work might be necessary.
  • The landlord must adhere to the area's fair housing laws and other laws and rules.
  • The landlord must keep the property in safe living conditions. 
  • The landlord should give the tenant a legal rental agreement before moving in. 
  • The landlord can only raise the rent following rules and regulations.
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What is Eviction?


Eviction is the term used to refer to the removal of the tenant from the rental property. However, landlords aren't able to evict for just any reason. There are laws in place. In addition, every state has specific laws about eviction, and Illinois, in particular, has judicial evictions. A judicial eviction means that regardless of the reason for the eviction, a landlord cannot just throw the tenant out. Instead, a judge must order the eviction. Once the judge has ordered the eviction, only the county sheriff can evict the tenant.

Possible reasons for eviction


Below are the most common reasons for eviction. Continue reading to find more details about each one.

  • The tenant doesn’t pay rent.
  • The tenant does damage to the property.
  • The tenant fails to leave the property once the lease ends.
  • The tenant breaks the rules of the agreement. (Ex. no pets, no smoking, too noisy, etc.)

Possible Reasons For Eviction - Broken Lease Agreement

Failure To Pay Rent

Upon signing a rental agreement, the tenant is responsible for the rent due on the specified date. If you're going to be late with the rent, it's best to reach out to your landlord and make payment arrangements rather than simply not paying. Failure to pay rent is breaking the lease agreement, and there are legal actions that the landlord can take.

Details To Know About Tenant Not Paying Rent

  • If the rent due is paid within five days of receiving the eviction notice, then the eviction process is over. If the rent is unpaid in the future, then the eviction process restarts. However, it doesn't pick up from where it was the last time.
  • If the tenant doesn’t pay rent but moves out of the property within five days of receiving the eviction notice, the landlord may use the tenant’s security deposit to pay the outstanding rent. The landlord can sue the tenant if more is left owing after the security deposit.
  • If the tenant doesn’t pay the rent and doesn’t move within the five days of being served the eviction notice, the landlord will need to file a lawsuit with the courts to take back possession of the property.

Breaking the Rules of the Contract

The lease agreement is responsible for detailing all the rules of living in the rental unit (property). For example, the rules detail quiet times, the pet policy, and the rules regarding long-stay visitors. The landlord may serve the tenant an eviction notice if the contract rules aren't followed. First, however, the landlord still needs to follow the procedure for the eviction process. 

How does eviction work?


Most evictions are due to the lack of rental payment being received, but there are other reasons for eviction too. The first step of how to evict a tenant involves a notice being served to the tenant. The notice is a legal document reflecting the reason for the eviction and the length of time the tenant must respond to it. The time duration that the tenant has to respond varies based on the reason for eviction and the rental agreement terms.

How to serve an eviction notice?


An eviction notice can't be taped or slid underneath the front door if someone lives in residence. It needs to be served correctly for it to serve its purpose. An eviction notice can be handed to the tenant personally, handed to someone living in residence over the age of thirteen, or sent through registered mail with a return receipt requested. 

How To Serve An Eviction Notice - Eviction Notice

How long does it take to evict a tenant?


While every eviction process is different, it can be noted that eviction can be a lengthy process. Depending on the reason for the eviction, usually it's non-payment of rent, the tenants' lawyer might try to tie matters up in court for an extended time. This can lead to hefty court fees and more prolonged non-payment of rent on the residence in question. As a result, the eviction process can take anywhere from 60-90 days.

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Can you evict a tenant during winter?


Evictions can happen during the winter, but the enforcement of the eviction order could be delayed if it’s too cold or hazardous. The Sheriff is the one that enforces the eviction order and might not carry it out if it’s colder than 15F. However, if eviction is necessary, the landlord shouldn’t wait for spring. It’s best to get the paperwork going and everything in process as soon as possible. While there may be a delay due to bad weather, the process will still happen. 

The Eviction Process


A landlord must serve the tenant with written termination before filing legal action with the courts. The written termination must contain three critical pieces of information.

  • Address/description of the premises
  • Reason for terminating the lease
  • The date that the lease ends after notice of termination

Once the written termination has been given to the tenant, the termination period has to end before legal action can be taken. Once that period has ended, the landlord can file a court case to evict the tenant. When the court case has been filed, the tenant of the residence is served with a Summons and Complaint. 

A Summons and Complaint will compel the tenant to appear in court and defend their case.

The Sheriff typically serves the Summons and Complaint but, sometimes, can be served by a third-party company.

The Eviction Process - Sheriff

After the Summons and Complaint is served:

The Summons and Complaint will have all the information the tenant needs. The Summons contains the court date and time, and the Complaint shares the landlords' reasons for filing legal action against the tenant. Once the set time passes, the landlord can then file an Order for Possession from the court. The Order signifies that the Sheriff's office has been ordered to evict the tenant and other property inhabitants where applicable.

Notification Letter:

The tenant is then sent a letter informing them that the Sheriff's office has been ordered to execute the eviction and that it has been put into the schedule. It's important to note that this is the only warning the tenant will get from the Sheriff's office detailing that the eviction will be carried out. 

Filing a Motion:

The tenant or the tenant's attorney may file a motion after an Order for Possession has been entered. However, the Sheriff's Office must receive copies to guarantee that the eviction process is canceled. In addition, all orders and motions received by the Sheriff's office must be certified and stamped. If a tenant fails to follow the correct procedure, the Sheriff may still carry out the scheduled eviction.

Filing A Motion - Court

How are Evictions Carried Out?


Evictions usually are scheduled in conjunction with the date of the Order filed. However, exceptions are sometimes made based on various factors, and evictions can happen as soon as twenty-four hours after the Order is placed with the Sheriff's office. Tenants being evicted are not given a date/time of when the eviction is being carried out because of various safety concerns for the officers. 

What Does Eviction Day Look Like?


Upon the scheduled eviction, Sheriff's personnel arrive at the residence in full uniform. They will knock and announce their presence. The Sheriff's personnel can forcibly enter the residence if there is no answer. After this, the possession of the property is given to the landlord, and a no trespassing order is put on the door, which completes the final step of the eviction. 

After the Eviction:

Once the eviction is carried out, the tenant can't enter the residence without the landlord's permission. The tenant must make arrangements to move their personal belongings before the eviction is carried out. Once the eviction happens, it's likely that the locks will be changed, and should the tenant attempt to enter without permission, there could be further legal action taken.

A Few Final Words


Though choosing to evict a tenant isn't easy, there are some circumstances in which it's necessary. Failing to pay rent, breaching the terms set out in the rental agreement, and failing to leave after the rental agreement is up are the most common reasons for an eviction to be issued. Once an eviction is issued, the Sheriff's office gets involved, and there are specific steps the tenant must take. 

The choice to evict a tenant is typically not made lightly; however, failure to comply with warnings, rules, and the lease agreement will result in an eviction. It's best to communicate with the landlord and make payment arrangements if you cannot pay rent on time. Eviction will appear on future rental applications, potential background checks with various employment, and more. The choice of evicting a tenant comes after verbal and written warnings. It's crucial, as a landlord, to follow all procedures related to following through with an eviction.