The Sheriff does not remove the tenant’s possessions

ilevistateI received the following question from a reader of this blog:

Does anyone know after the sheriff comes to evict the tenant from the apartment, the process for the tenant to remove their personal property? Does the landlord have to move it? Or does tenant have to move it?

Veteran landlords will remember that some time ago, the Cook County Sheriff used to actually remove the tenant’s possessions.  The Sheriff no longer performs this task and drops that task on the Plaintiff in an eviction case. They only remove the persons listed on the eviction order.  Here is the Sheriff’s press release from back in 2007 when the policy changed.

press release-Cook County Sheriff’s Office

Of course, the Sheriff cautions that landlords should give tenants the opportunity to get their possessions out of the premises.  In fact, many Sheriff officers will stay at the premises to supervise the tenant removing their personal property if the tenant immediately goes about removing it.  I usually advise my clients to wait a minimum of 24 hours before disturbing the tenant’s belongings, but certain facts may dictate that I advise my clients to wait longer or to notify tenants that they have a certain time to come and get their property.  (remember, this is not legal advice – each situation is different and you should contact an attorney for advice before taking action!)  Unfortunately, we don’t have all that much further guidance on the procedure and the Sheriff’s policy leads to more questions (how does bailment law come into play? how do landlords know that the property actually belongs to the tenant? etc.) than answers.

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8 Responses to The Sheriff does not remove the tenant’s possessions

  1. Monica says:

    I’ve heard that a person in Chicago cannot be evicted if the temperature outside is below 32 degrees. Is that true?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Not quite correct. Cook County Circuit Court General Order 13-07 entered on December 12, 2013 says that the Sheriff cannot evict “…(a) whenever the outside temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheir or colder on the actual day of eviction or (b) whenever, regardless of outside temperature, extreme weather conditions endanger the health and welfare of those to be evicted.”

  2. cathie says:

    I have a few questions. We are in the process of having a tenant evicted. Been going on since December. Because of her, we are unable to rid our building totally of infestations. I am dealing with a lawyer presently but am not happy with the speed of process. Tenant was issued a 5 day notice and then a court date was set for February. Nobody could find her to serve her. Another court date now for March. So far she has not been found to be served or so I am told. How long can this go on? Is there something not being done by present attorney that can be done to expedite the eviction?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Cathie, because you are represented by an attorney, I can’t provide you any legal advice. I can speak in general that evictions take a LONG time. I don’t know the particulars of how service was attempted (I assume by the Sheriff and a special process server) but I wonder how any attorney might be able to affect whether or not the tenant can be served? If you are unsatisfied with your current attorney, by all means, get a second opinion! (By the way, our office does not jump into cases “in the middle” – its a firm policy).

  3. cathie says:

    sorry to bother but if you can’t answer any of the questions i posted earlier, can you at least tell me if I may deny the tenant that i am evicting use of the parking lot and the laundry facilities? she’s not paying rent and the parking and laundry is a privilege for them, not included in rent or anything.


    • Richard Magnone says:

      I don’t know what your lease says and I know you are represented by other legal counsel (you should address this question directly to the attorney who represents you!), however, any attempt a landlord makes to cut off services, cut off access to facilities the tenant is entitled to (whether impliedly or expressly) makes himself or herself subject to the possibility of a claim of wrongful eviction. Landlords are advised to tread VERY carefully in these matters.

  4. Lopez says:

    HI Richard . I hope you find the time to answer my questions. I have a court order that my tenants should have moved out my property on 03/31/14. They are still currently in the home. I went to the sheriff office paid a fee to have them removed. They indicated that it will take 6 – 10 weeks. Can a State Police or off duty Sheriff Officer help me removed them sooner? Is there any laws that protect the landlord? It is sad that some people who know this awful system can stay leaving 6 – 8 months for free while the property owner is stuck paying property taxes and plus.

    • Richard Magnone says:

      The system is the system. Talk to your representatives about reform. There is currently no way to use anyone other than the County Sheriff to remove tenants pursuant to an order for possession.