What is a “forcible entry and detainer” in Illinois?

State of IllinoisUnder the “common law”, it was lawful for a landlord “with force and arms” to retake possession of real estate and retain such possession by force from a tenant who failed to pay rent or breached a lease.  “Self-help” such as this was prohibited by statute in the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act.

The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, at 735 ILCS 5/9-101 provides:

Forcible entry prohibited. 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.

But, what exactly does this mean and what is a “forcible entry and detainer”?

A forcible entry is an act or action on the part of a party entitled to use real property to remove another party that is not in lawful possession of the real property.  The forcible entry action can be actual (such as breaking down a door or changing locks) or constructive (such as cutting off heat, electricity, or water).  A landlord engaging in “self help” is engaged in forcible entry.  Section 735 ILCS 5/9-101 of the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act expressly prohibits such acts.

Instead, the act provides a statutory basis that allows landlords the right to retake possession by peaceful means.  In other words, landlords can no longer take the law into their own hands and, if a tenant will not voluntarily yield possession, a landlord must take a tenant to court.  Only the County Sheriff, on the order of judge obtained in a forcible entry and detainer lawsuit, can forcibly retake possession for a landlord.

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10 Responses to What is a “forcible entry and detainer” in Illinois?

  1. Can a suburban police department evict someone instead of the Sheriff?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Only the Sheriff can evict a tenant. Civil trespass is a criminal matter and police can remove a trespasser. Obviously, those determinations are fact based.

  2. Todd Goodart says:

    I made a deal to buy a house trailer. I told her i would get it paid for as soon as i could. I gave her 200 in cash she singed a peace of papper for 200dollars i told her i would pay it off as soon as i could she read by signing it. Two days before the next payment she told me i had to leave so her daughter a place to live got to witness that watched her and me sign it and what was for the bane of the trailer the same and was president when she was told me that I had to leave so her daughter at a place to live they had a family member come over and cut my power without the power company knowing about it . what actions can I take for this

    • Richard Magnone says:

      This is not the kind of case we handle (the focus of this website is on eviction actions for landlords). There are many laws affecting installment sales and there are specific rules related to mobile home evictions. I can only recommend that you contact a consumer rights or tenant’s defense attorney for assistance.

  3. Cheryl says:

    I sold my home contract for deed but before the contract has expired the tenant informed me that they are no longer going to purchase the home. They never pay their rent in a timely matter n they owe over $700 in late fees she agreed to move out this weekend n is now telling me she is not leaving what can I do to get her out?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Sorry, we do not handle articles of agreement forfeiture issues. I can’t help with this.

  4. Tremaine Maebry says:

    I have a question for you. I received a Order for Possession in Cook County against a tenant. I went through all the proper procedures (i.e, filed with the sheriff department; line order was issued, etc). I later discovered that a representative in the social services department halted the eviction because the tenant was infirmed. I never received a notice or a hearing to discuss the length of time needed. I was only told that they are trying to place the tenant in an assisted living facility. As each week goes by I am incurring coast and expenses because I cant do the needed work to my building while the tenant remains. It appears this may be a regulatory taking and I would like to be compensated for my reasonable expenses. Any thoughts on next step?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Tremaine, you have already discovered that it appears to be the policy of the Sheriff of Cook County (based on his eviction information form) that where occupants are children, elderly, have mental health conditions, are disabled, or have pets, the Sheriff’s social worker will attempt to notify and coordinante with social services to ease the eviction process. One or another iteration of that form also claims that the involvement of the social worker does not take any additional time. There’s no way to prove that this is true or not, but my experience has been that it takes longer. As for whether or not this is a taking, I can’t say, but I think you should consult with a lawyer that handles those types of cases. I would certainly like to see the issue put to the test and one day, a landlord willing to pay for the costs of a lawsuit like that just might get us the answer.

  5. I have a inquiry and or question with my case, and it is very basic and simple reguarding a forcible entry and detainer case filed against me, would you be able to email me and possibly answer and or assist me?