Give ‘Em the Boot: Quick Guide to Evict Tenants Under Illinois Law

Give ‘Em the Boot

Quick Guide to Evict Tenants Under Illinois Law


Eviction actions in Illinois are strictly governed by statute, which can be found, 735 ILCS 5/19-101, also known as the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act (commonly referred FE&D).  This law was passed in order to prevent landlords from engaging unfair and illegal eviction practices.  Self-eviction that includes shutting off utilities, changing the locks, and denying access to the property are strictly prohibited and can result in stiff penalties against the landlord.  Further, strict compliance with this Act is required from the landlord. We will set out below basic guidelines to evict a tenant properly. To ensure a successful legal eviction, landlords must strictly comply with the law and there are numerous complexities and local rules that need to be followed.



Notice requirements are strict. Even minor flaws to the notice can prevent the court from having jurisdiction, and the cause of action can be dismissed before it has a chance to reach trial.  Below are the notices of eviction that must be served on a tenant in the majority of evictions actions. The notice must allege the reason for eviction, accurately describe the premises, and include all relevant dates.  Any deficiency or omission will likely prevent the court from having jurisdiction, and you will have to start from square one.


5-Day- This notice of eviction is for nonpayment of rent exclusively.  It will allow the tenant five days to pay any balance of any unpaid rent.  If the tenant pays during this period or before an FE&D is served the eviction process cannot go forward.


10-Day- For other situations outside of nonpayment of rent this notice must be served.  This is usually given to a tenant that is in violation of lease agreement, has caused damage to the property, and the like.  The tenant has ten days to cure the actions stated.


30-Day-Is required in almost every other situation which the two previous notices do not address. This notice is also needed when there is an oral lease or if the lease is less than 30 days.


Service-Any of these notices can be served by the landlord or their representative to anyone at the property over the age of 13 or by certified mail with a return receipt.  A copy of that notice and certificate of service should be attached to the FE&D complaint or filed with the court.


Complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer- After the appropriate time period has ended, and the tenant has not cured any alleged defect, the tenant must be served with summons and complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer. The complaint must be filed with the court, and the summons (setting forth a specific date and time to show up to court) and complaint must be served by the sheriff or a process server. The client will be entitled to the first appearance at which they can agree or deny that the landlord is entitled to possession and/or agree or deny any monetary sums owed.  If there is a denial, a trial date will be given for landlord to present his case and the tenant to raise any defenses.


The court will make a ruling as to possession of the property and any money that either party may be entitled to.  If the landlord is found to be entitled to possession an order of possession will be issued, and the tenant will be given a specific date/time to be out of the premises.  If the tenant stays beyond this time, the sheriff can forcibly remove the tenant pursuant to the court’s order.


Forcible Entry and Detainer is a complicated process with numerous pitfalls. As in any legal situation we would suggest consulting with an attorney before attempting to do it on your own.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.


If you have a question about this, or any legal situation in which you may need assistance please contact Kesler, Nelson, Garman, Brougher & Townsley, P.C. at 217.446.0880 or online at for a free consultation.