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Eviction Procedure – Defendant’s Guide

Home > Departments > Court Services > Civil Division > Evictions > Defendant's Guide

GENERAL OVERVIEW: THE EVICTION PROCESS FOR RESIDENTIAL TENANTS/DEFENDANTS

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is required to enforce eviction orders entered by the Circuit Court of Cook County. If you are facing eviction, it is important for you to understand the process and your legal rights. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office does not provide legal advice and nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice. The information below is intended to provide residential tenants/defendants with a general understanding of the eviction process. It does not address issues involving condo associations, mobile home sites or subsidized housing. Questions regarding your particular case and circumstances should be addressed with your attorney. If you do not have one, you may wish to contact legal aid services. A list of legal aid resources can be found by clicking here.

TERMINATION NOTICE:

Illinois law requires that landlords serve tenants with a written termination notice prior to filing an eviction action. The written termination notice must contain three items: (1) a description of the leased premises (usually this is the address); (2) the reason for the termination of the lease (usually this is a failure to pay rent or a violation of a lease provision); and (3) when the lease will terminate after service of the termination notice. Termination notice periods vary based upon the type of lease that you have and the reason for the termination. In some situations, you may have time to resolve the issue(s) before the eviction case is filed with the Circuit Court, such as when you have fallen behind in paying rent and have received a Landlord’s five (5) day notice. Payment of back rent within the five day period could prevent an eviction case from being filed against you for failure to pay rent. Depending on the facts of your case, you may still have an opportunity to resolve other issues during the notice period. It is important to understand your rights and, if possible, take the appropriate steps before the expiration of this termination notice. In this regard, you should consult an attorney in order to protect any rights that you may have. Once the written termination notice has been properly served and the termination notice period has expired, the landlord can then take legal action against you and file a court case seeking to evict you. Specifically, the landlord will file a Complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

COURT SUMMONS, COMPLAINT, TRIAL AND JUDGEMENTS:

Once your landlord files a court case against you, you will be served with a Summons and Complaint. Illinois law provides for specific requirements for service of process. Typically, you will be served by a Cook County Sheriff’s Officer (or in certain situations, by a special process server) either by personal service on you, or substitute service. Substitute service is usually accomplished by leaving a copy of the court documents at the defendant's usual place of abode, with some person of the family or a person residing there, of the age of 13 years or upwards and informing that person of the contents of the summons, provided the officer or other person making service shall also send a copy of the summons in a sealed envelope with postage fully prepaid, addressed to the defendant at his or her usual place of abode. You may also be served by publication in certain limited circumstances, where personal or substitute service is not possible or has not been successful.

In some cases, the service of Summons and Complaint may be directed to “unknown occupants”. This is done when the landlord is not sure who else may have moved in with a current tenant.

The Summons will provide you with specific information about the date, time and location that you are required to appear in Court. The Complaint sets forth the landlord’s reasons why he/she has filed legal proceedings against you (such as failure to pay your rent or violation of a lease provision). It is in your best interest to understand your rights as a Defendant, especially if you have never been evicted or involved in litigation before. Additionally, if you are a service member or ordered to military service, you and your family may have additional protections, depending on the facts of you particular situation. An attorney or legal aid representative may be helpful in guiding you through this process.

Eviction legal resources can be found in the Daley Center on Wednesday mornings between 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on the 14th floor. You may also wish to visit the court advice desk on the Concourse Level of the Daley Center, or the information desks at the suburban courthouses to learn more about legal aid services that are available to the public.

If your landlord obtains an Order for Possession from the Court, it means that the Sheriff’s Office has been ordered to evict you and any other named persons and unknown occupants, where applicable, on the Order. Once the Order has been entered and any stay periods have expired, the Landlord will file the Order for Possession with the Sheriff’s Office for enforcement. ENFORCEMENT MAY OCCUR AS SOON AS 24 HOURS AFTER AN ORDER HAS BEEN PLACED WITH THE SHERIFF’S EVICTIONS OFFICE. You will also receive a letter from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office at the mailing address listed on the Order. This letter will provide you with a notification that the Sheriff’s Office has received the Court’s Order to enforce the eviction and that your eviction has been placed on the schedule to be enforced. THIS WILL BE THE ONLY NOTIFICATION THAT YOU WILL RECEIVE FROM THE COOK COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE REGARDING YOUR SCHEDULED EVICTION.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you or your attorney may wish to file a motion before the Circuit Court after an Order for Possession has been entered. Copies of the motion MUST be provided to the Sheriff’s Office located in room 701 of the Daley Center. Should you obtain an order that stays the eviction, copies of the order staying the eviction MUST be provided to the Sheriff’s Office located in Room 701 of the Daley Center to ensure that the Sheriff’s Office receives notice not to enforce the eviction. All motions and orders that are provided to the Sheriff’s Office must be certified and filed stamped. Additionally, all motions must be received with a Notice of Motion indicating the room, date and time of the motion.

IF YOU NEED HELP OR ASSISTANCE:

The mailed notification provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office that an eviction has been ordered will also contain information about how to access help from local service providers or resources that may help you to find alternative housing, emergency shelters, financial assistance and other information to assist you and your family in relocating from the premises. The list of available resources can be found by clicking here. You may also contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Office Social Services Department if you need additional assistance by calling 312-603-3337.

THE EVICTION:

Evictions are generally scheduled in the order of filing but may occur as soon as twenty-four (24) hours after an Order has been placed with the Sheriff’s Office. Tenants/defendants are not provided with the date or time for when the eviction will take place due to officer safety concerns. It can be far less disruptive or stressful if you and your family utilize available social services and are able to relocate prior to enforcement of the eviction by the Sheriff’s Office. Assistance is available from social service agencies (click here). You may also wish to contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Office Social Services Department for additional information by calling 312-603-3337.

Illinois law requires the Cook County Sheriff to enforce evictions in Cook County. On the day of the eviction, Sheriff’s personnel in full uniforms will knock and announce their office. If no one answers and other means of access are not available, they are authorized to forcibly enter the premises, per the Order of the Court. Sheriff’s personnel will conduct a check of the premises to ensure that all persons ordered evicted are removed. They will also complete a questionnaire and discuss with you the items you will be taking with you like medicine, jewelry, currency or important documents. The Sheriff’s personnel will give possession of the property to the plaintiff/landlord or his/her representative and post a “No Trespassing” Order on the door, completing the eviction. THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE DOES NOT REMOVE OR SECURE A TENANT’S/DEFENDANT’S PERSONAL PROPERTY AND IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EITHER.

Arrangements to retrieve all other personal property must be made between the tenant/defendant and the plaintiff/landlord. It is important that arrangements are made to relocate your family and possessions before the eviction is enforced. Once the eviction occurs and possession is returned to the landlord, it is likely that the locks to the residence will be changed and you will not be able to get back into the property without the plaintiff/landlord’s permission. Attempting to re-enter the premises after an eviction may be considered trespassing and subject you to criminal charges by the local police department called to the scene.

 

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