After the Illinois eviction trial

oldschoolHypothetical: A Chicago landlord pays an attorney to draft a 5 day notice. The landlord pays a process server to serve the notice. The tenant does not pay, so the landlord pays an attorney to draft a complaint, pays a filing fee to the Circuit Court, and pays service fees to the Cook County Sheriff.  The Sheriff is unsuccessful in delivering the summons, so the landlord pays the attorney to go to court to have a process server appointed and pays a process server to serve a summons on the tenant. The tenant is served and the landlord pays an attorney to go to court for an eviction trial. The landlord prevails at the eviction trial and is granted an order for possession. The landlord tells the attorney “I’m going home to change the locks on the place”.

Hold on a second, landlord.  Do you really want to do that?  After paying all of that money to prosecute an eviction case the right way, you think it is wise to perpetrate a wrongful eviction?  The runner is rounding third and heading home!  The landlord would be better served to save all of that money spent on the process and just throw the tenant out on the street.  He might as well.  It’s just as illegal.  Plus, the landlord will have plenty of money left over to defend the wrongful eviction lawsuit.

[so that no one is confused, I am NOT advocating that any landlord change locks on a tenant or throw them out on the street.  Only the Sheriff executing an order for possession can do that!].

After all that time and money, what landlord in his or her right mind would change locks on a tenant that has been evicted in court?  After a landlord obtains an order for possession, the landlord needs to wait out any “stay of enforcement” for the tenant to turn over possession (remember, the turnover of possession is a question of fact!).  If the tenant does not turn over possession, the landlord can march down to the courthouse to get a couple certified copies of the order for possession and deliver those to the Sheriff’s office.  Yes, it means more money, but it is the legal way to do it.  The Sheriff will take it from there.  Once the Sheriff shows up to evict a tenant, a landlord can legally change the locks!

Landlords contemplating evicting a tenant through less than legal means should contact an attorney to find out how to remove a tenant lawfully.  in the long run, that’s much cheaper than the alternative.

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7 Responses to After the Illinois eviction trial

  1. Gene G says:

    How can the sheriff evict if tenant has changed locks or refuses to allow entry . I have the order of possession and await my date of possession by cook co sheriff

    • Richard Magnone says:

      The landlord needs a locksmith at the ready who can drill the lock when the Sheriff arrives.

    • susan says:

      they bring a min ram and break it be prepared to repair/replace door and locks on the spot..believe me..we have 13 properties and many in rough areas..i see it all the time..its a fun event to see the sheriff ram the door open and tell them to get out!!! After months of no rent, I look forward to the event..

      • Richard Magnone says:

        An eviction can be a violent event and can range from quite peaceful to a guns-drawn, tense event.

  2. sue z says:

    i had an eviction years ago the sheriff broke the window after i said hey ill brake the window, i had them go to the back door where the windows where in the door as we Landlords just want them out by now 3 or 4 months by now, ,we want them gone
    ( the tenant of course) any way come to find out the tenant was growing marijuana
    so they were arrested and the judge made them pay the back rent I was shocked to see a check come every month for 11 months for 100.00 that was the only time that happen

  3. Marie Scott says:

    Our order of possession was entered on Oct 30 and still the tenant sits. The moratorium was quite a surprise. And now wondering, what’s the deal with getting rent for Nov, Dec & Jan added to the original judgement amount? Also, any tips on garnishing wages for the judgement?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Waiting for the Sheriff is the worst for a landlord! In most residential situations, a landlord is “on his own” for the time period beyond the expiration of the stay of enforcement of the order for possession and the time the Sheriff comes out to evict. 735 ILCS 5/9-209 provides in part “…A claim for rent may be joined in the complaint, including a request for the pro rata amount of rent due for any period that a judgment is stayed, and a judgment obtained for the amount of rent found due, in any action or proceeding brought, in an action of forcible entry and detainer for the possession of the leased premises, under this Section.”

      As for enforcing a judgment, a landlord can pursue any of the rights any judgment creditor would have (such as garnishment of wages or bank accounts or a citation to discover assets) although my experience has been that many tenants are not the best candidates for collection.