In August, I wrote about the “best case scenario” timeline for a first district Cook County eviction. This post is about the opposite side of the process or what I call the “worse case scenario”. That’s not a typo. I mean “worse”, not “worst”. I don’t think I have seen the system at its worst yet. The eviction practice has taught me that I have not seen close to everything.
So, I want to talk here about the worse case scenario. This is a scenario for an eviction for nonpayment of rent with what some landlords might call “the tenant from hell” but that I would call an eviction with a tenant who knows how the system works. This scenario is just an example of how bad things can be. I could actually think of things that are much worse (counterclaims, bankruptcies, etc.) that would add even more time and money to the process.
The worse case scenario starts much like the best case scenario – with the service of a five day notice and the filing of an eviction lawsuit.
Next is where the two paths differs. Instead of the Sheriff serving the tenant with a copy of a summons and complaint, the Sheriff makes his attempts but is unsuccessful and returns service as “not found”. After this, a landlord must find a means for service, usually by way of appointing a special process server to serve the defendant. This will cost a landlord about an additional two weeks of time and some expense to a private process server.
Assuming the process server gets service on the tenant, there will be an initial hearing. In this scenario, instead of having a hearing, the defendant asks the court for and is granted a short continuance. This means coming back one week later. On the return date, the tenant really drops a bomb by filing a jury demand. This simple action gets the tenant another week continuance and the case is transferred to the jury trial call and a new judge.
When the parties come to court on the jury trial call, the court enters a “routine order” giving the defendant time to file a formal answer to the complaint and to initiate discovery and grants a continuance for status in about 35 days. On that continuance date, assuming discovery is complete and there are no other dispositive motions to deal with, the judge will set a date for a jury trial. The date granted depends on the judge’s schedule, the complexity of the case, and the schedule of the parties. It can often be two to three months in the future.
Assuming that the jury trial results in the issuance of an order for possession, the judge will stay the enforcement of that order for one or two weeks. After that, the plaintiff can place the order with the Sheriff to execute. Right now, I am hearing that it is only taking four to six weeks for the Sheriff to process an eviction order, however, in the winter or when the Sheriff is backed up, it can take as long as ten or twelve weeks.
This is just one example of how long the process can take and it could be worse. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.