Cook County Illinois best case scenario Chicago eviction timeline

When I talk to landlords about the Illinois eviction process, one of their first questions is “how long”?  The easy answer is as follows: long.  I wish that were not the case, but it is the truth.  The process is not as fast, convenient, or easy as any landlord would like it to be.  I thought it might be instructive to demonstrate the timeline for a Cook County Illinois eviction using the example of a nonpaying Chicago tenant.This example assumes that the case is filed in the first district (initial court dates in the other districts are usually later than the dates provided for cases filed downtown) and assumes that the tenant’s lease does not require anything more than the service of a five day notice for nonpayment of rent.

As the timeline demonstrates, the first step is to serve the five day notice.  This can be a difficult task if the tenant is evading service or hard to find.  Once the notice is served, the landlord can start counting the five days.  Assuming the fifth day is not a weekend or holiday, the landlord can file an eviction suit at the Daley Center on the next day.  When filed, the court will give the plaintiff an initial court date usually two to three weeks into the future.

Once the suit is filed, the landlord places copies of the summons and complaint with the Sheriff of Cook County for service on the defendant.  Yes – the tenant needs to be served a second time!  This gives the defendant notice of the court action.  If the Sheriff is successful in making timely service, then, something will happen at the initial court date.

Again, let’s assume a best case scenario.  The tenant either fails to show up or there is a bench trial in front of the judge and an order for possession is entered in favor of the Plaintiff landlord.  The judge will then “stay” the enforcement of that order for at least one week and possibly longer.

Once the stay period expires, the landlord can place the order for possession with the Cook County Sheriff to be executed.  I have spoken at length about how long it is taking the Sheriff to go out and execute an eviction order.  A few weeks back, we were hearing as long as twelve weeks.  but I have recently had an eviction processed in a much shorter time frame of about eight weeks.  There’s no telling how long the Sheriff will take.

As a result, right now, a Chicago eviction for nonpayment of rent with no problems or delays is estimated to take between 85 to 122 days.  In a few days, I will write about all of the delays that can take that best case eviction and turn it into a difficult eviction.

Landlords interested in evicting a tenant can feel free to contact us.

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60 Responses to Cook County Illinois best case scenario Chicago eviction timeline

  1. Pingback: First District Cook County Illinois eviction "worse case scenario" timeline

  2. lost job, can't find one, can't pay March rent, probably going to get evicted says:

    This eviction timeline was posted in August 2011, do you have an update on the current timeline, this being March 2012.

    Thank you.

  3. Sandra says:

    Does this process include trying to evict a relative living with you whose stays under the influence of alcohol and drugs and refuses to move.

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Illinois law makes no distinction between the termination of the tenancy of a relative versus a stranger. There are many different routes a property owner many choose when evicting a tenant – breach of lease terms, nonpayment of rent, termination of oral tenancy, Illinois Controlled Substance and Cannabis Nuisance Act, etc. Since you have not, at this point, engaged us to assist with your case, I can’t provide legal advice for your situation but can suggest that you should consult with an attorney to find out the best way to proceed with your situation.

  4. lynn johnson says:

    I would like to know if I have been to court and the judge granted me two weeks can the landlord just have the sheriffs t

    o come and evict me?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      I can’t speak to your particular situation. However, in general, after an eviction trial where the Plaintiff landlord previals, an order for possession is usually entered with some period of time during which the enforcement of the order for possession is “stayed”. After the stay expires, the Plaintiff may place the order with the Sheriff who will come out to evict the defendant. (This is not legal advice)

  5. Titan CEO says:

    I am a landlord. I have a case where the tenant has an atty that enterd a motion to quash. The judge ruled in the favor of the tenant because my attorney did not call the other attorney to inquire as to why the tenant (his client) had not responed to the summons. The judge acknowledged that the Sheriff tried to serve them 5 times and I posted the notices on the door, my attorney mailed it AND sent it certified mail AND sent it U.S. mail. The legal standing was due to the attorneys (my attorney and the tenant’s attorney) were invloved in another case matter and the judge found it reasonable that my attorney should have reached out ruling in the tenants favor.
    Now we have to start the process all over again! How can I speed up the process this time? This tenant is 13,000 in arrears on rent! I need to get them out of my house. its killing me!!!

    • Richard Magnone says:

      This is really a better question for your attorney.

      That said, there is really no way to “speed up” any eviction ahead of the others being prosecuted. Every landlord on the eviction floor faces the same problems (ie. tenants being disturbed, lack of cash flow, expenses to pay, possibility of foreclosure). It is basically a cost of doing business as a landlord.

      I do wish you luck though.

  6. Me says:

    Hello as far as the eviction process i noticed u updated in march 2012, has anything changed as far as how long it takes for the sheriffs to come evict you after the landlord has filed order of possesion?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Here is our most recent update on the Sheriff’s timing. Of course, there is no guarantee that any particular district will be the same and your mileage may vary.

  7. Duane says:

    My landlord sold the build and the new landlord took over Oct 22nd 2012. November 2nd the new landlord notified all 24 tenants that Dec 31th 2012 everyone has to leave because they will be renovating the apartments and turning them into condos and raising the rent to $1100.00. What can I do it’s not enough time to find an apartment?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Needless to say, in most cases, a landlord cannot just purchase a building and give tenants 24 hours to vacate. A buyer takes subject to existing leases and tenancies. A landlord may have certain rights to terminate or raise rent contained in a lease or by law (30 day notice for month to month tenancy or 90 day notice in some cases for buyers of foreclosed properties, etc.). In addition, many municipalities, Chicago in particular, have laws that require certain notices prior to a condominium conversion and that actually may provide a tenant with a tight of first refusal to purchase a condominium unit.

      I obviously have not seen your paperwork and don’t have a full knowledge of the facts. My best advice is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

  8. Sandra Aragon says:

    Thank you for taking the time to answer questions about eviction. I rented my home to a co-worker friend of mine. She has been out of a job since August. I have not received rent in 4 months now. She promises that once she gets reinstated she will pay me back and finish the lease. I am afraid she will refuse to do it when the time comes, in the meantime I am having a hard time managing my bills because of her. She is my friend and I so wish things wouldn’t have to be like this, but even the slightest effort to communicate with her have failed. She does not even want to talk to me. She says when I get the money, you will do too. Please advise me what I should do.
    Would this process of eviction take a long time?

    Sandra Aragon

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Sandra, like a rental property, eviction actions are serious business. The topic is too broad to discuss in a blog comment, but please feel free to contact us to see if we are a match to represent you (773-399-1122). I don’t have enough information from your post to give legal advice, but it does sound like things are already breaking down and you should learn more about the process and your rights so you can make a plan about how to proceed. Evictions do, unfortunately, take a “long time”. They might not take as long as some other court actions, but they are never as fast as a landlord wants or needs!

  9. Justin says:

    I have entered into a sublet (we bought a house) with two other people for my old apartment. They have paid the first two months but have been late (paid late penalties on this). They are now 14 days past due but have indicated they will pay wednesday. The landlord is threatening eviction. Does he have a basis for this?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Justin, I don’t know all of your facts, but when tenants do not pay rent, a landlord can usually take steps to evict a tenant. Further, a sublandlord remains liable with the subtenants for an eviction when the subtenants fail to pay rent. Your best recourse here is to contact a tenant’s rights attorney to assist you.

  10. RENA says:


    • Richard Magnone says:

      Rena, having not seen the notices, I can’t comment. You need to find and consult with a tenant’s rights attorney right away.

  11. Wanda says:

    I was very late with my rent for the month of March. I received a 5 day notice and then when that expired I received an “attorneys notice” with a date that the balance must be paid in full or eviction proceedings would begin. I was unable to make payment by the date on the “attorneys notice” however I did make the full payment for the month of march. The money order I paid with is stamped 4/2/2013 on my renters website it shows it as scanned in on 4/4/2013 and then on 4/6/2013 I received a piece of paper in my mail saying that I have certified mail that has to be picked up. I’m pretty certain that it has something to do with the eviction process but I have had the chance to go pick it up. I was wondering because my payment for march has been excepted does this start the process over? I have not yet paid rent for April but I have not received a 5 day notice yet either. I’ve been late a total of 3 times now (feb, march, April) in February the notice was not given to me until the 12th and march it was given to me on the 7th. So I may be a little hasty in my concern because i know sometimes the notice is not given to me right away but I was wondering will I even get a notice for this month or can the eviction process for march still be upheld even though my payment was accepted? Thanks

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Wanda, you have a complex fact pattern there and really need to consult with a tenant’s rights attorney. We deal with the landlord perspective here on this website, so I can’t assist. The possibility of losing possession of your premises is very real and serious, so I strongly urge you to consult with a tenant’s rights attorney for help at once.

  12. Ethel Smiter says:

    My landlord was taken me to court for money I didn’t owe them each time I went to court the attorney for my landlord continue the case but this last time I went the judge told me the case was dismissed. I’m moving in two weeks will the sheriff still come and throw me out?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      We do not represent tenants in eviction defenses, however, you may have rights that need to be protected, including the possession of your rental. As such, my best suggestion is to contact an attorney who handles tenant rights.

  13. Bane Stevens says:

    Hi Richard,
    My parents purchased a property that was in foreclosure and the tenant on the lease didn’t want to pay her rent. So we went to court and won our case to have her evicted, but now we are waiting for the sheriff to come out and evict the tenants but during this long waiting time they have moved out but left other people in the apartment who were not on the original lease. Can we call the police and have them removed from the property or do we still need to wait on the sheriff department?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      If an eviction complaint names “unknown occupants” and the party “unknown occupants” are served via substitute service, then the eviction will generally proceed. If the Sheriff finds unknown occupants in possession and they are not named and served, the Sheriff will kick the case back to court for some additional procedures. This is not “basic stuff”, so I advise you to get the assistance of an attorney to help with this. Unfortunately, as a firm policy, we don’t jump into cases in the “middle”, but there are many attorneys out there who do.

  14. rod smith says:

    If the sheriff was initially unable to serve the tenant, and then a special process server was also unable to serve him, can the tenant be evicted without having been served? Specifically, if a return date (the 2d one) was scheduled (let’s assume return date was 7/1) and the court’s computerized files show the special process server was unable to serve the tenant as of one week previously (6/24), could the landlord obtain an order of possession on that 7/1 return date if the tenant failed to appear?? I don’t think so. I think landlord would have to then request service by posting, correct?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      An order for possession cannot be entered until the court has jurisdiction – either personal or in rem – over the defendant. Jurisdiction can only be obtained by service of the summons or a sheriff’s posting. A court would be unlikely to proceed if the process server is unable to serve.

  15. Ivon Navarez says:

    On the day that sheriffs arrive and vacate the tenants, we will change the locks and move everything from the house. All furniture and their belongings in garbage bags and placed in the alley. She has been warned that these are my plans and have repeatedly told her to start packing and moving belongings to storage. Can I be sued?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Anyone can sue anyone for anything. I would not move the belongings for at least 24 hours and would provide reasonable opportunity to the tenant to obtain them.

  16. Lucy Callaghan says:

    I am an owner-occupant landlord of a 2flat in Chicago. I gave my Section 8 tenant 30 days notice that her lease was not being renewed at the end of its term, 8/31. As of today, 8/26, she does not have a new apartment lined up and I’m afraid that she will still be in the apartment on 9/1. If I need to proceed with eviction, do I need to give a 5 day notice? From what I’ve read, no notice prior to filing with the County is required if the tenant’s violation is “holding over.” And is there anything I can do before 9/1, to strongly encourage her to move out. Is it true that if I were to successfully evict her, she would no longer be eligible for the Section 8 voucher program? I would think if she were aware of that, she would not chance it and that might be enough to get her to find a new apt and get moved out of here. What do you think my best course of action is at this time? Thanks in advance.

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Assuming the notice was correct, the 30 day notice should do it. Serving a 5 day notice would actually confuse the situation because it would indicate you are “reinstating” the already terminated tenancy. Section 8 throws some wrinkles into the situation as the regulations deal with proper grounds for termination of a Section 8 lease and I don’t have anything more than a snippet of your message to go on here. This problem is too complex to address in writing in a comment.

  17. Aliyah says:

    Hi there I was wondering I am a landlord who is renting a house and have tenets that have not paid rent in 3 months I served them with a five day notice and have already whent to Court the judge gave them until sep 30 and they still haven’t moved out yet I spoked to them and they said they need more time until oct 15 bc the new place they are renting is not ready yet my question is how long before the sherriff comes to evict them and can I gain access to the problem to inspect and make repairs while they are still there with a notorized letter given them 48 hours notice to gain access and if they aren’t home can I use my key to enter can they call the police on me for being on the property while they are still in the process of getting evicted or should I just wait until they leave to make repairs and inspection what can I do and what can these tenets do if I give the notice of inspection need advice plz

    Also the notice is not sing by judge and the tenents told me no until they move I can inspect and repair the property just wanted to if I can give them a notorized letter so I can gain access do I have the right to go in with that letter if they are home and don’t open the door to let me in can I open the door to my property with my own key or just wait until they leave and then gain access to it can they call the police and report me for harassing them what can they do that’s my question or what can I do

    • Richard Magnone says:

      I don’t know enough from your question to have an idea of where the rental property is located. I also haven’t seen the terms of your lease. Generally, the lease and law govern in the situation related to access. In Chicago, section 5-12-050 of the CRLTO governs access and indicates the procedure and means for making access.

      On the practical side of things, tenants can be ornery when it comes to access when there is a conflict situation. Many landlords ask the police to come with them for an inspection. Many tenants make claims about harassment. Without knowing more facts, I can’t advise at all on your specific situation and none of the above constitutes legal advice or creates an attorney-client relationship.

  18. Aliyah says:

    Does your comment about eviction process is also the same for suburbs in Chicago bc I live in cicero, il how long does it take to get the sheriff to evict tenants in cicero thanks

    • Richard Magnone says:

      The collar court houses tend to have a longer time between the filing date and the first hearing date. The timing of the Sheriff is nearly impossible to predict.

      • Yolanda says:

        How long does it take the sheriff to come out? I was placed on ” order of possession “on 10/1. Lawyer said I have 3 weeks or I can pay the amount owed. I’ll have the money on 10/18 just wondering if the sheriff will come by then? Are they still backed up?

        • Richard Magnone says:

          Define backed up! The Sheriff regularly takes 3-5 weeks to come out. Sometimes more, sometimes less – there’s no way to know for sure. As for what you should do, I can’t help with that as I can’t provide you with legal advice. You should contact a tenant’s rights attorney to advise you on your particular situation.

  19. adam says:

    After an order of possession has been placed with the sheriff of CC, does the sheriff send a postcard to the tenant, or contact them beforehand in any way, to give them a chance to voluntarily leave before coming out to the property??

  20. Greg says:

    Can I “serve” my tenant with the 5 day notice for non-payment of rent? Must it be handed in person or can it be delivered via a trackable method? l plan on engaging an atty if it goes past the 5 days notice for next steps.

    • Richard Magnone says:

      The 5 day notice must generally be served according to the statute. There is a split in the appellate courts about the proper method of service, so I usually advise clients that personal service is the most effective method of service (much better than certified mail signed for by the tenant and way better than hoping the tenant admits to having received the notice via some unauthorized method of service). Every case is a bit different, so I can’t provide legal advice on your exact situation.

  21. adam says:

    I obtained an order for possession against my tenant. 5 days after I placed the order for possession, he filed a motion to vacate the order for possession, and scheduled the motion to be heard 2 weeks out! I saw the motion on the electronic docket search and called the sheriff and asked if this would delay their going out to evict. They said they will not enforce the eviction until the motion is decided. Is this really accurate?? Can a tenant facing an order of possession already placed with the sheriff really file a baseless motion and schedule for weeks ahead?? Is there any way a landlord in this situation can accelerate that motion to be heard? Lastly, if the plaintiff loses on their motion, do i have to get back in the beginning of the line for evictions, or can i just get back in the line where i already was??? thank you…..

  22. lesly says:

    My husband list his job and were not able to pay 1 month’s rent so we came to an agreement with the land lord dat we would pay it little by little but now she send us a 5 day warning. we are a low income family with 2 kids ages 2 and 6months. is there anything i can do to get some extra time?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      I’m sorry, we can’t help tenant’s with this sort of advice. You should contact a tenant’s rights attorney.

  23. adam says:


    We had a non-paying tenant and obtained an eviction order against him. We placed the order for possession with the sheriff. The tenant filed a motion to vacate the order and the sheriff said they would not enforce the order until the motion was decided. On the day of the motion, the defendant did not show up, so we just left. I guess we should have stepped up anyway and gotten an order denying defendant’s motion, but we didn’t. We thought his not showing up meant the sheriff could now execute the order for possession, but when we checked the electronic docket online, it shows that the motion was stricken. Because we did not get an actual order from the court denying the motion, and it was just stricken based on the defendant not showing up, will the eviction be back on without us needing to do anything further? Or do we need to obtain another order from the court that actually denies the defendant’s motion and allows the eviction to proceed?

    Thank you very much!!!!!

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Adam, its hard to know from your facts what happened – I don’t know what order was entered. Notwithstanding this, once the Sheriff takes an eviction “off” because of a motion, there is a procedure for notifying the Sheriff that they should be back “on”. It doesn’t sound like that was done (and the judge may have entered an order that puts you further back in the process). It was not a good decision not to step up. You are going to have to get into the file and find out what happened and take it from there. I can’t provide much more insight in that I don’t have the full picture. We don’t jump into already filed cases, so I can’t provide any legal advice but do wish you luck.

      • adam says:


        Thank you very much for the response. So when you say “you’re going to have to get into the file”, does that mean we should go to the clerk’s office in the daley center and request to look at the actual court file, itself? Because the electronic docket shows the outcome, which was that the defendant’s motion was stricken/withdrawn. So could the physical file show a different order?? If so, we definitely need to do that.

        Also, sorry last question…..does the sheriff maintain a different file from the actual physical manilla file that the clerk’s office keeps and sent up to the courtroom on the 14th floor? Just want to know where to find it now.

        Thank you so much….

        • Richard Magnone says:

          Yes – the court system online does not let you look at the actual pleadings or orders.

          The Sheriff has a file/computer system that deals with service of process but that is generally not available to the public the way the documents in the court file are.

  24. Frank says:


    I have an eviction court date to evict one of my tenants on the 21st. He hasn’t paid rent for the last 2 months and doesn’t plan on it. The police have been to my property on his behalf on numerous occasions, I was able to obtain his criminal records. He was arrested for domestic abuse a few times. Can I use this information against him in court to speed up the process?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      When it comes to a non-payment of rent case, the bad behavior of the tenant (except for the bad behavior of not paying the rent) is irrelevant to your case in chief. The information you bring up is the kind of thing you might try to use to argue that the stay period should be no more than one week. That said, once you get your order for possession, there’s nothing you can do to speed the Sheriff.

  25. David says:

    It took several attempts to serve 5-day notice to tenants, but we were successful and have it on video. We waited the required amount of time and then filed an eviction complaint and summons. The Sheriff has made 6 unsuccesful attempts to serve. The tenants were 100% for sure inside the property during these attemps but would not answer the door. Is the landlord allowed to unlock and open the door for the Sheriff in order for him to serve the summons? We are in IL.

    • Richard Magnone says:

      I would be surprised if the Cook County Sheriff coordinated such a thing. Also, a landlord in Chicago (governed by the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance) would need to provide 48 hours and a legitimate reason for access before just opening a door. In other jurisdictions, the local municipal law or the lease might apply. I don’t know enough about your facts to provide a specific answer or legal advice and you should consult with an attorney before acting.

  26. John says:

    When a tenant is evicted from one unit in a multi-unit property, are they barred from re-entry on the entirety of the building or just the unit in which they had previously resided? If an evicted tenant proceeds to move in with another tenant in a different unit of the same building, are they considered trespassing?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      An evicted tenant is evicted from their unit. If they are invited into another unit by someone in the building that they know, they are likely not trespassing. If they move in to a different unit, it is a question of fact as to whether or not they have established any sort of tenancy. A number of facts can influence this (how long were they there, can they prove they live there, how long did the landlord know they were in the other unit?) Most landlords would argue that they have not. The trouble is that the local police, even when shown the eviction paperwork, might not agree or might want to stay out of the matter. I can’t give a complete answer because I don’t know all of the facts. It would be best to contact an attorney for advice.

  27. Mike says:

    Hey, I served my tenant an eviction notice in December for non payment of rent but the judge ruled for the tenant because my son who is on the lease acted as my agent and made the discussion for the amount the tenant to pay. Since then the tenant hasn’t paid January rent but offered me $500 of the 900 due for rent because the tenant sent me a letter Dec. 7, stating for me to do repairs or they will deduct from their rent which I did. I refused to accept the payment and gave them a 5 day notice, after that I gave their son who just happen to be 12 years old the eviction notice and I found out in illinois he has to be act least 13 to receive the notice? Can the tenant get the case dismiss and what are my options?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Notice must be served in accordance with the statute. Any defective notice would be invalid.

      (inasmuch as we do not represent you, this does not constitute legal advice).

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