Hypothetical: 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.