Off-Campus Community Living University of Illinois Off-Campus Community Living Student Affairs


A landlord must follow specific procedures required by law in order to evict a tenant.

Those steps are:

Service of Notice:

A notice must be served in person or by certified or registered mail. It can be served by posting it on the premises only if no one is in the actual possession of the premises (735 ILCS 5/9-211). That means the landlord knows the tenant has moved out. The notice should be signed and dated, but it does not have to be notarized or served by the sheriff.

For non-payment of rent, the notice must demand the rent, stating the amount owed and must allow a minimum of 5 DAYS to pay the rent. If partial payment will not be accepted, the notice must say so. (735 Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 5/9-209)

For any other breach of the lease, the notice must be for a minimum of 10 DAYS and should state the provision in the lease that the tenant has allegedly violated.

Payment of Rent:

If the eviction is for non-payment of rent, the tenant can solve the problem by paying the amount due within the 5 days of the notice. If the landlord refuses to accept payment, the tenant should be able to prove that s/he offered payment. Sending a money-order by receipt-return mail is a good way to prove payment was offered. If payment is offered and rejected in person, the tenant should have a witness along who will be available to testify in court that rent was offered. A spouse or roommate is not a witness because the unpaid rent is her/his responsibility too. An unrelated adult could be a witness, but certified mail is best.

If full payment is demanded and the tenant makes a partial payment, the landlord can still sue to evict the tenant for the balance due. If the landlord agrees to accept partial payment, the tenant would be wise to insist that the landlord sign a statement promising not to evict the tenant in exchange for receiving partial payment.

If the eviction is for some reason other than non-payment of rent, there may be no way to stop the landlord from proceeding with successful court action to evict, but it is always beneficial to see if the landlord will agree to settle the matter.

Court Action:

After the period of notice has passed, the landlord can file suit against the tenant. Usually the suit is for "possession" and some amount of money. If the landlord and tenant have signed a lease, the landlord might sue for past due rent and late charges plus the balance of rent that will become due. Court costs can be added and, depending on the lease, the landlord might sue for attorney's fees.

The tenant will be served with a SUMMONS to appear in court on a specific date at a specific time. The tenant would be wise to be represented by an attorney. Whether or not the tenant has legal representation, it is very important to show up at the time and date stated on the summons. If the tenant does not appear, s/he will probably lose by default and the court will order immediate eviction.

After Court Action:

If the landlord wins possession, the judge will order the tenant to move out by a certain date. In Champaign County, tenants are often ordered to move "immediately" or the next day after the court date. Some people assume they have 30 more days to move, but that is not the law. If the tenant does not move out after losing in court, the landlord can ask the Sheriff to enforce the court order and the tenant's belongings can be removed from the premises.

If you move after receiving a notice the landlord can still sue you for the rent owed and possibly for future rent. If you think the reason for the eviction is not justified, definitely consult with an attorney at law before you move out. Moving will not necessarily improve your situation. The most important point to remember about eviction is that you do not have to move out until a judge orders you to move.

Illegal Eviction

In some cases, the landlord never bothers to file suit, but instead attempts to use force or intimidation to get the tenant out. The landlord might change the locks on the door, disconnect utility service, remove doors and windows, or take the tenant's personal property. All of these measures are ILLEGAL. If you are a victim of illegal eviction, try:

Avoid any confrontation that will lead to violence.

While being illegally forced out of your home can be traumatic, it's not worth personal injury or loss of your life to get back in. Most landlords who illegally evict are either ignorant about the law or trying to see how much they can get away with. Try to stay calm and get outside help if you need it. It might be helpful to show the landlord these sections of state law if you are trying to convince the landlord that his/her actions are unlawful. If you live in Urbana, definitely show the landlord the Urbana law and/or tell him or her that illegally evicting you automatically entitles you to two months' rent.

Forcible Entry Prohibited

Chapter 735, Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 5/9-101 states:

No person shall make an entry into lands or tenements except in cases where entry is allowed by law, and in such cases he or she shall not enter with force, but in a peaceable manner.

Seizure of Property

Chapter 735 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 5/9-301 allows for seizure of property only under certain circumstances. In most cases, once you add up all the property that is exempt by law, there will be nothing left for the landlord to take.

When rent is not paid after 5 days' notice the landlord may seize property only if:

Exempt property:

If the landlord fails to comply with these requirements or takes property that is exempt, the seizure is unlawful.

Prohibition of Termination of Utility Service by Landlord

Chapter 765 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 735/1.4 states:

No landlord shall cause or request utility service to tenants to be interrupted, discontinued, or terminated in an occupied building (i) by nonpayment of utility bills for which the landlord has assumed responsibility by agreement or by implication (such as when the utilities are master metered) or (ii) by tampering with equipment or lines.


The Tenant Union does not provide legal services of any kind. All information provided in this publication is intended to help the average person prevent problems and deal with common concerns of renting. When legal help is needed, always consult with an attorney at law.