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Frequently Asked Questions About Landlord Evictions

Posted on in Residential Landlord Evictions

kendall county real estate lawyerSince Covid-19, Landlords are often left wondering what the eviction process now looks like. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions surrounding court evictions, otherwise known as cases in “Forcible Detainer and Entry.”

How Long Does an Eviction Take?

It is typical for residential landlord evictions to range anywhere from six to ten weeks, from start to end. Court availability can sometimes dictate whether a case can be heard sooner or later. However, tenant cooperation will largely determine how long the eviction will take. Things to consider when thinking of tenant cooperation include whether the tenant is purposefully evading service, whether the tenant fights the eviction, and whether the tenant is open to a settlement agreement to shorten the process.

How Do I Start an Eviction Against Current Tenants?

In order to initiate an eviction against current tenants, the landlord, through themselves or a private process server, must serve a notice onto the tenants. The most common types of notices are a five-day notice and a thirty-day notice.

A five-day notice is used when tenants are not paying rent. This is a written notice that is served onto the tenants and puts them on notice that they have five days (not business days) from the date of service to either pay the entirety of the rent stated in the notice, or vacate the premises. If five days has passed and the tenants have not paid the entire balance or vacated the property, the landlord can then move to next step, filing a complaint with the court.

A thirty-day notice is used to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. This is a written notice that is served onto the tenants and puts them on notice that they have thirty days to vacate the premises. The thirty days extends to the last day of the next month. If the date on the notice has passed and the tenants are still occupying the property, then the landlord can file a complaint with the court.

What Qualifies as Successful Service of the Eviction Notice(s)?

There are two forms of successful service of process, personal service, typically through a private process server, and certified mail with return receipt. Oftentimes a landlord will communicate the notice through verbal communication, text message, or email. These forms of communication will not qualify as successful service of process.

Personal service means that the notice was personally handed to the tenants listed on the lease, or through substitute service, meaning that the notice was handed to a member of the household 13 years of age or older. No signature is required for this method of service. The use of a private process server is always encouraged. A private process service is a trained professional who works with the attorney to ensure successful service of process.

Certified mail with return receipt is another way of ensuring effective service, however it is typically difficult to obtain. To be successful, the tenant must sign the mail notice and, if they are aware of a pending eviction, it is likely that they will not sign the mail notice. But if the tenant does accept the mail notice and sign accordingly, then successful service is achieved. 

The Tenant Was Served the Notice but hasn’t left, now what?

If the notice was successfully served and the time on the notice has passed with no action on the tenant’s part, the Landlord will move forward and file a Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer with the court. The complaint is a document that contains the specific facts of the case, and includes a request for relief for possession of the premises, and, if applicable, a request for rental damages, including unpaid rent, late fees, and reasonable attorney fees if included in the lease agreement.

Once the complaint has been filed with the court, a court date will be obtained, and the Summons form will be completed. The Summons form is a document that informs the tenants that they are being called to court and that there is an action against them. Following Covid-19, the Illinois Supreme Court has required that every Summons form include a document educating the tenants on rental assistance. In order for the court to have jurisdiction over the case, the Summons and Complaint must be served on the tenants by a private process server. If the tenants purposefully evade service, the landlord must then file what is called a “Motion to Post on the Door” which will allow the process server to post the Complaint and Summons on the door of the property. This will give the court jurisdiction to award possession of the property the landlord, but the court will no longer have jurisdiction to award money damages due to lack of personal service.

What will happen at the first court date?

At the first court date, the Judge will go through the documents to ensure there was successful service of the Complaint, Summons, and rental assistance form. This is obtained through an affidavit of service that is completed by the process server. Once jurisdiction has been established, one of two things is likely to happen; either the parties will come to an agreement, or the matter will be set for trial and/or mediation.

The Plaintiff (typically through an attorney) and the Defendants will sit down at the courthouse and discuss their hopes for the outcome. Typically, the matter can come to an agreement in exchange for giving the Defendant additional time to vacate the premises. If an agreement is reached, then an Agreed Order will be completed. The Agreed Order outline the responsibilities of both parties and includes how the matter will proceed if either party fails to abide by the Agreed Order. If the Agreed Order is not followed, then the Judge may have the authority to grant a Possession Order as well as a judgment for money damages, if applicable.

The other option occurs when the parties cannot come to an agreement, and the matter is set to move forward. Some counties require the parties to attend mediation, which is when both parties sit down together with a neutral third-party in an attempt to resolve the disputes between the parties. If the county does not require mediation or if mediation is unsuccessful, then the matter will be set for trial. 

I Was Granted a Possession Order but the Tenant is Still There, What Now?

A Possession Order is granted by the Judge which gives the tenant until a certain date to vacate the property, typically fourteen (14) days after the order is issued. The Tenant has until the end of day listed on the Possession Order to vacate the property.

If the tenant has not vacated by the date on the Possession Order, the landlord can then take the order to the Sheriff’s office and schedule a forcible eviction. The Sheriff and landlord will work together to schedule a day and time for the landlord and Sheriff to meet at the property, and the Sheriff will ensure that the tenant vacates the property immediately.

There are a number of things that the landlord must acquire at the time of the eviction. The landlord must have a group of able-bodied individuals to move out all of the tenants belongings. The landlord is responsible for bringing garbage bags, boxes, and tarps to protect the personal property from the elements when it is out of the premises. It is said that the property must be left out for a “reasonable amount of time” before it can be disposed of, which many departments equate to 24 hours. Finally, the landlord must bring a key to unlock the property and hire a locksmith to change the locks once the tenant has vacated.

I Want to Pursue an Eviction, Who Should I Call?

The staff and attorneys at Landlord Evictions, LLC specialize in assisting landlords and property owners with the eviction process in the counties of Kendall, Kane, DuPage, Dekalb, Grundy, and Will. We are an experienced team that works tirelessly to ensure and swift and effective eviction. For more information, please give us a call at 630-780-1034 or fill out an online form.

 

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