Property ownership and management has its rewards and drawbacks. Whether you have owned rental property for years or are just beginning your career as a landlord, you probably discovered quickly that you can never be entirely prepared for what may happen. As a variety of people rent from you, you will experience many unique situations that require your attention.
Problem tenants can be a nightmare for landlords. You have likely had your share of renters who use their rental unit for illegal reasons, destroy property or refuse to pay rent on time. Perhaps you imagine the satisfaction of going into the renters’ units and tossing their belongings onto the sidewalk. However, you likely understand that this is not a legal eviction, and the consequences of such actions could go badly for you.
Legally evicting a problem tenant
The state of Illinois protects tenants from landlords who treat them unfairly. Those protections include laws forbidding you from evicting a tenant except under specific circumstances. Landlord-tenant laws also require you to carefully follow certain procedures if you have a valid reason for evicting a tenant. Those steps include the following:
- Giving notice: Depending on the circumstances of your renter’s lease and the reasons for the eviction, you will have to provide your tenant with written notice of your intention to evict. You must then complete and sign before a notary an affidavit that you gave your tenant such notice.
- Filing your complaint: When the time limit specified in your notice has expired, your tenant may have corrected the situation, in which case you will no longer have cause for eviction. If not, however, you may file your complaint at the county courthouse and receive a summons for the tenant’s eviction.
- Delivering the summons: In some cases, the county clerk forwards a copy of the summons to the sheriff’s department, but you may have to take responsibility for the service yourself. You may decide to hire a process server instead of using law enforcement to deliver the summons to your tenant.
- Going to court: The summons directs your tenant to appear for a hearing during which a judge will listen to the details and make a decision. If the judge approves your eviction, your tenant will have a certain amount of time to vacate.
Of course, it may not be that easy. Evicted tenants may decide to remain in your unit despite an Illinois court order. In such cases, you will need the services of the sheriff. It is important to understand that only law enforcement can forcibly remove an evicted tenant. If you try it yourself, you may end up in legal trouble, or worse!
While the eviction process may seem simple enough to follow, the protections in place typically give tenants the benefit of the doubt. Because of this, it will be important to understand and follow the laws and procedures for eviction as carefully as possible, or you may end up dealing with that troublesome tenant indefinitely. Seeking the counsel of a dedicated attorney will benefit you in such circumstances.