Every landlord or property manager has a few tenants who are more problematic than the rest. Either they are paying late, paying a partial rent, or not paying at all. However, that doesn’t mean you can just throw them out on the street or take drastic measures to fix the situation. Today, we take a look at what Illinois landlords can and can’t do if they are having issues with a tenant.
Illinois Landlord Rights
If you have a tenant who is not paying or who won’t vacate the property, you are within your legal rights to take action. However, you have to follow the proper protocol. For example, here are some things you cannot do if you can’t get a tenant to pay or leave.
A landlord may not:
- Change the locks on a tenant’s property in order to deny them access.
- Physically remove the tenant’s belongings without a court order.
- Disconnect or turn off the tenant’s utilities (phone, heat, etc.)
- Refuse to make necessary repairs to the property.
On the flip side, tenants may not reduce the rent they pay because they paid out of pocket to fix a property issue, and they may not withhold rent until maintenance projects are completed.
So What Can Landlords Do?
Landlords still have plenty of rights under the law if an occupant is failing to live up to their end of the agreement. The first thing they can do is file a small claims order. If you believe a tenant owes you money – be it for overdue rent, property damage, issues with the security deposit, etc – and you only want them to be held financially accountable (not evicted), you can take the person to small claims court. You can begin this process on your own, or you can consult with a landlord right’s lawyer.
However, if you wish to also evict the tenant, you’ll also need to file what’s known as a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) complaint. An attorney can also help you with this.
It’s also important to note that in order to pursue either of these options, you’ll first need to send a notice of eviction to the tenant stating your intention of eviction. Depending on the circumstances, you’ll need to give them either a 5-day, 10-day or 30-day notice of the intent to evict. We’ll explain which notice you need to give in a future blog, but you can consult an attorney for immediate assistance.