Evictions – FAQ

Last updated: November 2, 2009 – 1:46 PM

NOTE: If your landlord lives in your building, see the “Exceptions” note on the right side of this page.

What must my landlord do if he/she wants to have me evicted?
She must file a lawsuit against you. This lawsuit is called an “eviction action” or a “forcible action.” Your landlord cannot have you evicted unless he/she wins this lawsuit.

Does my landlord have to provide me with a written notice before filing an eviction action against me?
Yes. The kind of notice required depends on the landlord’s reason for terminating or refusing to renew your tenancy.

What if my landlord wants me to move when my written lease ends?
At least 30 days before your lease ends, your landlord must provide you with a written notice stating that he/she will not renew your tenancy. Then, if you don’t move he/she can file an eviction action against you.

If I have a written lease agreement, can my landlord have me evicted before it ends?
Only if you violate one of the lease provisions.

What if I’m behind in my rent?
Your landlord can give you a written demand for the rent. This demand is called a “5-day notice” because it states that your tenancy will end unless you pay all the rent owed within no less than 5 days. If you fail to comply with this demand, your landlord can file a lawsuit against you. (If you live in a CHA building, the notice must give you 14 days within which to pay the rent).

What should I do if I receive a 5-day notice?
Give your landlord all the rent you owe within the next 5 days. Bring a witness with you when you make your rent payment. That witness can then testify on your behalf, if your landlord later denies that you paid or tried to pay the amount owed. Always pay with a check or money order. You can then use the canceled check or money order receipt to prove you paid rent on a certain date.

What if the 5-day notice demands more rent than I owe?
Give your landlord just the amount you owe.

What if my landlord refuses to accept my rent within the 5-day period?
He/she gives up his/her right to file an eviction action against you. If he/she still files this action, call an attorney immediately.

If I don’t have all the money I owe, should I give my landlord a partial payment?
Only if he/she agrees, in writing, to (1) allow you to pay the rest of what you owe later, and (2) not evict you for failing to pay everything you owed within 5 days of receiving the termination notice.

What if I offer my landlord the rent after the 5-day period ends?
He/she does not have to accept it. But if he/she does accept it, and if your tenancy is governed by Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, he/she cannot evict you. (See the front cover of this pamphlet to find out whether the Ordinance governs your tenancy.)

What if I violate some other provision of my lease?
Your landlord can serve you with a notice describing the violation and stating that your tenancy will end in no less than 10 days. The notice must also advise you of your right to “cure” within this 10-day period, and thereby preserve your tenancy. If you fail to “cure” the violation in a timely manner, your landlord can file an eviction action against you.

How can I “secure” a lease violation?
By taking whatever action is necessary to correct the violation you committed. Assume, for example, that your lease prohibits you from keeping any pets. If your landlord serves you with a 10-day termination notice because you have a cat, you can cure your violation by getting rid of the cat within 10 days of receiving the notice.

What steps should I take to prove I cured the lease violation?
Within 10 days of receiving the termination notice, send your landlord a letter explaining what action you have taken to cure the violation. Send the letter by certified mail and keep a copy. If your landlord files an eviction action against you, bring the letter to court.

Does the termination notice always have to state a reason for the termination of my tenancy?
That depends on whether you have a written lease or an oral (unwritten) lease. If you have an oral lease, the notice does not have to state a reason for the termination of your tenancy. Instead, it may simply state that your tenancy will end in no less than 7 days (if you pay rent every week), or no less than 30 days (if you pay rent every month). Your landlord must give you this notice at least one day before your rent is due. If you don’t move at the end or this 7 or 30 day period, your landlord can file an eviction action against you.

How will I know whether my landlord has filed an eviction action against me?
You will receive a court document called a “summons,” which states where and when you must appear for trial.

Should I go to court?
Yes. Even if you lose your case, the judge will give you more time to move if you appear in court.

Can I have an attorney represent me in court?
Yes. In fact, you should contact an attorney as soon as you receive a termination notice.

What if I want an attorney but have not been able to contact one before I appear in court for the first time?
When your case is called, just approach the judge and say, “Your Honor, I would like a short continuance so I can get an attorney. I would also like to preserve my right to a jury trial.” If you do not want an attorney, the judge may conduct the trial immediately.

What should I bring with me when I go to court?
Bring the summons you received, as well as any evidence that supports your case (such as your lease agreement, rent receipts, pictures of your apartment, letters you wrote to or received from your landlord, etc.) . You should also bring any witnesses who are willing to testify on your behalf.

What happens at the trial?
Your landlord will present his/her case first. When he/she finishes, you will be allowed to tell your side of the story. Keep it brief. Write out what you are going to say beforehand so you do not forget anything.

What defenses can I assert at the trial?
There are many possible defenses, so you should discuss your case with an attorney before you go to court.

What happens if I lose my case?
The judge will order you to move. he/she may also order you to pay your landlord any rent you owe.

If I lose my case, how much time will I have to move?
In most cases, the judge will postpone your eviction for a period of 7 to 21 days. You cannot be evicted before this period ends.

What if I need more time to move?
You can file a motion for an extension of time. The day before you are scheduled to be evicted, go to the Advice Desk in the back of Room 602 of the Daley Center and ask the person sitting there to help you file this motion.

What if I was not in court when the judge ordered me to move?
You can file a motion to “vacate” the judges order. As soon as you learn that the judge ordered you to move, go to the Advice Desk in the back of Room 602 of the Daley Center and ask the person sitting there to help you file this motion.

If my landlord wins the eviction action, who can actually force me out of my apartment?
If you live in a CHA building, the CHA police can evict you. Otherwise, only the Sheriff of Cook County can evict you. Your landlord cannot evict you.

What should I do if my landlord tries to force me out of my apartment without following the proper legal procedure for having me evicted?
Call the police. (For more information, read the pamphlet entitled Lock-outs and Retaliation).

Please Note:This information, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and other relevant chapters of Chicago’s Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to advise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

Still can’t find the answer? Send us your questions. Please allow several days for a response.

All 75 Comments

  1. I live in a Sr Bldg partially govt funded. A U. S. Veteran tenant across the hall has frightened me and most other tenants by his loud aggressive behavior. He roams the building all day/night shouting obscenities and threatening violence toward anyone he encounters. He locked himself out of his apartment and a stove fire and then fought the fire department when they were trying to enter his apartment. Bldg management is aware of the situation, but seems reluctant to do anything about it. What, if anything, can I and the other tenants do to ensure our safety? Can we break our leases?

    1. This is a tough situation, which MTO is seeing more and more of. You mentioned that the building is partially government subsidized. Do you know under which program is it subsidized? Secondly, how large is this building? MY first thought is join and create a tenants association and demand a meeting with management to find out their concerns and what they are going to do about the situation. You may want to suggest that the building management contact NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) hotline 833(626-4244). They may have some ideas on different approaches to the problem. If you feel you life is in danger, you could terminate the lease by giving the landlord a 14-day notice to fix the problem and if the problem is not resolved in 14 days then you could terminate the lease. You will most likely loos any subsidy that you have, if you terminate the lease.

  2. I caused a fire in my building because I was smoking in the unit when not allowed. It was an accident. Can I be evicted for that?

    1. You could possibly be evicted especially if you have had any previous warnings. There is a possibility that you might be held liable for any damage to the property. Has the landlord given you any type of eviction notice? In the case you describe the landlord could always give you a 10 notice to correct the violation or vacate the unit. So if you have received previous warnings this would not look good. Under current law the landlord can also choose not to renew your lease and force you to leave that way.

  3. I have fallen behind on my rent. I’ve livedin my apartment since August of 2018. It’s monthly but the landlord accepts money in a piecemeal way. Mostly weekly. I’ve fallen way behind. do I have any protections? He said if i don’t pay friday i have to leave. I qualify for Emergency Rental Assistance, I think, but he said he doesn’t want to go through the process. I think it’s because he says he lives in the building even though he doesn’t. there are probably many other code violations like mold, lack of smoke detectors, piles of debris. Lord, Jesus.

    1. MTO has an eviction prevention program. You can call our hotline 773-292-4988 to get assistance. Have you applied to get Emergency assistance? If so have you let your landlord know? Good communication is essential when you are behind in rent. Why would you landlord not want to go through the process? Not sure what living in the unit has to do with getting assistance. You could call 311 and request an inspection.

  4. I was attacked by another tenant while I am disable and was on medication that made me drowsily. I defended myself and no one was hurt or arrested .the person was drunken and had been all day. Can I be evicted for defending myself ?

    1. Has there been a threat of eviction? Who knows what the other tenant told the landlord. Were there any witnesses? Please us know if the landlord is trying to evict you.

  5. My landlord allowed me to move my support pet into the building on Monday and by Friday called to schedule a metting because they had received two verbal complains that my dog has been disturbing to other tenants. Because of this, I have been issued a 10-day notice that this disturbance is not to ever happen again or we will move to legally terminate your lease. My question is what can I do as a tenant to ensue that these complains are just and that I am also being protected by the landlord as a renter in the building as well who needs this accomadation.

    1. There are no rules regarding pets in the Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. Landlords do not have to allow pets except in the case of animals who provide a service such as seeing eye dogs. You mention you need an accommodation, does your dog provide a service? In any case, your dog needs to be relatively quiet. Have you spoke with with your neighbors to see what is happening. If your dog is barking while you are away, you will have to correct the situation. How is your dog being disturbing?

    2. There are no rules regarding pets in the Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. Landlords do not have to allow pets except in the case of animals who provide a service such as seeing eye dogs. You mention you need an accommodation, does your dog provide a service? In any case, your dog needs to be relatively quiet. Have you spoke with with your neighbors to see what is happening. If your dog is barking while you are away, you will have to correct the situation. How is your dog being disturbing?

  6. Also do I have any defense with the notes being left telling me i have to leave that day and the ones calling me names? Also turns out the place has illegally converted without permits from 2 apartments in the building to 12 single rooms.

  7. On the 5th day after I received the 5 day notice 1 of the owners was leaving notes on my door saying it was the 5th day and I needed to be out that day and off their property.

  8. Yes the tenant entered my apartment without notice. Claimed the landlord wanted to make sure I was still alive. All they had to do was call or text or email me. It was when the sheriff was waiting outside I guess. Him and another tenant went into my place. I got the court date because 1 of the guys claiming to be an owner left a copy of one of his court papers taped to my door.

  9. So I have a very weird circumstance. I am staying at a place where I pay weekly. (landlords choice) Other people in the building pay monthly. I did not have hot water for 2 weeks and heat for at least a month. I still do not have heat in the bathroom and hallway. I was withholding rent from the landlord until I these matters got fixed as I had to shell out a decent chunk of change to stay at hotels to shower and when it was way too cold. The landlord served me with a 5 day notice saying on it i also owed for attorney fees and damages. But they did not put an ammount for that. Then a guy that claims to be a partial owner of the building was leaving notes on my door saying I have to be out friday. Then notes calling me a bum. Then he left notes for all the tenants in the building saying that they were raising everyone’s rent immediately because I had not paid my full rent yet. Also in that notes he was calling me a “creep” and a “bum” and a “loser” and a “deadbeat”. I took a copy of the note. I also overheard him bad mouthing me to other tenants. Then he left a copy of an eviction court date on my door with a court date for 2 weeks. They also left a not on the front door saying city worker and officers the door is unlocked. They left tape over the lock so the door was totally unlocked. It’s connected to a bar and I walked in to a bunch of people smoking weed in my hallway this weekend. I am moving out this week. Do I still have to go to court if I have not been properly served? What if I get served and I am moved out by the court date? And today the landlord gave a key to my place to a tenant for the tenant to go inside my place and to see if I was in there while I was not there. Do I have any case for all of the harassment? Help!!!!

    1. I read the eviction laws. It says that a 5 day notice may not ask for anything other than rent. If they ask for damages and attorneys fees too does it make the notice invalid?

      1. What does the notice say? If it is still within the 5 day period you can offer the landlord the correct amount. It would be best to do this with a witness. If it is after the 5 days you will probably have to go to court and will probably need the assistance of an attorney.

        The incorrect amount will not necessarily void the notice. If the landlord wins in eviction, the landlord will not be able to collect on the attorney fees.

    2. It would be a good idea to attend court. If you have not been properly served then that would be a defense. The landlord may lie and claim they did serve you. How do you know when the court date is? It is best not to have an eviction on your record if you can help it. It would be best to go to court with an attorney. As for giving the key to another tenant, there is no law prohibiting it if the landlord is going to say the person was their agent. Still did the person actually enter your unit without notice. That is a violation of the law.

  10. I just went to court Nov 26 and I asked the judge for legal council and he said no, I asked for a trial and he said no his reply was “I have stayed there long enough its time for me to move out. This was technacilly my second court, because the first court date the landlord did not show up. The judge gave me until Dec 28 to move out,but am afraid that I might not be able to move my whole family within that time. I will probably need more time, is there any way to get more time?

    1. I am not sure what the reason is for the eviction. There are several ways to get more time. The first is to talk with the landlord to see if he or she will allow you the time. How much more time will you need. Another way is to go back to court and file a motion to extend the stay. It is best to do that close to the date of eviction. It can buy you several more weeks. It would be best to do this with the help of an attorney. You might try calling Metropolitan Family Services. They may be able to provide you with that service.

  11. I have been in a verbal lease with my landlord for a reduced rate for just over a year now, and because of that, he is failing to fix anything that needs it. My furnace is broken for the 10th time in five years. The locks on the outside gates are broken which has allowed for me to walk out to work in the morning and almost step on a drunk, homeless man’s face that was sleeping up against my back door. In addition, I had three drunk young adults try to get into my apartment one night because there are no locks on the gate. A year and a half ago, we had 11 rats that were caught in my cabinet, and he did nothing to address the issue. I had to hire an exterminator. I wrote about my heat not working on Tuesday, and just last night he told me that he can’t have anybody come to fix it until next week. I want to just pack up and leave by the end of this month. I have been here five years, and his negligence is just exhausting. All of the locks on the windows have been broken since the day that I moved in, with no attention to them when I have asked. The stove has been broken since before I moved in. Last year, the bathrooms needed to be torn up with no notice for a waste water leak under the unit, to which I was displaced for two full months while paying ALL of my utilites, him cashing my rent check and he refused to put me up in alternative housing. I just want to leave, and have no verbal contract. May I?

    1. In a verbal rental agreement the law is that you must give the landlord a 30 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. It needs to coincide with the rental period. So if you rent is from the first to the first then you you would have to make sure the landlord has the notice by the first.

  12. I have been served a court summons for eviction stating failure to pay rent in August and September. I received a 5-day notice in both July and August. I have proof of payment that corresponds to both months (money order stub for July and bank statement for August) I was not served a 5-day notice in September. I also have the money order stub for rent payment for the upcoming month of October.

    Each time that I received the 5-day notice I contacted my leasing office to let them know that I had made that months rent payment, I was told that “if you sent it in then dont worry about it. Sometimes it takes the finance office a while to update their system”

    I left it at that each month. I received no follow up, no further notices, and was not assessed any late fees. I assumed that all was fine and that the system was updated to reflect my payment.

    Should I be worried? Is there anything I can do before the October 12th court date that may stop this action, or will I be required to go to court for this?

    Should I retain an attorney?

    1. Whenever you get a 5 day notice, it should not be taken lightly especially if you have received a court date. Have you contacted the landlord to find out what is going on? If the case ends up in court it is important to work with an attorney. If you do not want to engage an attorney at this point, it is possible to go to the October 12 hearing and request an extension so that you can have time to find an attorney. The judge will normally continue the case for one week. You might also want to contact the attorney and see what he or she says.

  13. What is the process for a non-rent related eviction, given that he lives on the premises, which I see is not covered by the landlord-tenant ordinance?

    1. If the tenant is not following the rules of the agreement, then the landlord can give the tenant a 10 day notice to comply with the rules. If the agreement is a month-to-month agreement the landlord can give the tenant a 30 no cause notice to get out. In both cases if the tenant is still there the landlord has to take the tenant to court to evict him or her.

  14. Good day,

    I currently live with my older brother, to whom I pay rent. I’ve been living here for about 18 months and my rent has fluctuated over that time period. I currently pay $500/month for rent, which I feel is too much to pay to live in an unfinished basement that is full of their property and has no walls, no proper electrical wiring, water leaks, unpleasant odors, etc. My brother always tries to intimidate me and use physical force and verbal abuse to make me submit to his demands, and today he and I had an argument and he attacked me with a hammer and demanded that I leave the premises immediately. I then proceeded to inform him that this is illegal and he stated that since I have not paid my rent in full for the current month (no arrears) then I have no legal standing (which I know is not the case). He then says all I have is 14 days to move out. What legal recourse do I have once the 14 days elapses? How can I exercise my legal tenant rights without having to worry about further abuse from him? Also how can I determine what the true rental value of the living space is, given its condition?

    Please advise.


    1. Family situations like this are always hard to resolve. I do not know if there are others in your family that may help to mediate a solution. This may be the best way to resolve the situation.

      As for the laws:

      First if a landlord is going to evict a tenant, the landlord has to provide the tenant with a written notice to vacate. If you have not paid the rent then the landlord must give the tenant a 5 day notice to pay the rent or vacate. If you pay the rent the rent with the 5 days, then the landlord cannot evict you for that reason.

      Once the time elapses, then the landlord would have to go to court to evict the tenant. You should receive a summons to court if this happens.

      As for abuse, it is against the law to threaten you with a hammer. That type of behavior is police matter.

      It is very difficult to assess rental value as there are many determinants such as location, condition of the unit, the tenants credit history, size of the unit etc. Rents can go up and down and tenants can negotiate with landlords. The landlord can change the rent by giving a tenant an 30 day written notice. As an organization, MTO suggests that rental agreements are in writing. The agreement should lay out rent, who pays for utilities, any rules etc. that way everyone knows what to expect.

      1. Thanks for responding, Mr. Bartlett.

        I will proceed accordingly and request a 30 day written notice and if my brother resists or attempts to use force, then I will contact the police. I will also give a written request that I will be withholding further rent payments until modifications are made to the basement to bring it up to standards.

        Also, what are the requirements for someone to rent a unit (owner lives on premises) from a condition standpoint?

        I feel that he cannot charge me rent because of the condition of the unit (i.e. no walls (only wall studs), improper electrical wiring, water leaks, foul odors, etc.) His stance is that since he pays all the utilities and food, I have to pay rent. I am not saying that I should live rent free, I just feel that his demands are unreasonable, and I will need the maximum amount of time under law to find suitable housing.

        Please advise.


  15. I have been subletting a room in an apartment for one month now. I still stayed there along with other people. The person and I had an oral agreement that he would pay 450 (he was paying slightly more than what everyone else was paying b/c I didn’t even have an actual room). At this time 4 ppl were staying there and i told him one would be leaving so everyone would pay more… This time, it would be equally split between 3 people. He says okay. After speaking to my landlord and he decides that he overpaid for rent the previous month and says the portion that he paid that was more than everyone else’s should go to this month’s rent. In turn, he is tryin to pat 175 as opposed to 500 for august’s rent. Now we are behind and my landlord is threatening the unit with eviction. I am on the lease, but this kid has not been here for 30 days YET. Can I legally evict him or move his things out? I have asked my landlord to evict him, but my landlord basically said he doesn’t care he just want he rent. PLEASE help ASAP. He will be here 30 days soon. I need to take action.


    1. I am not quite sure about all the circumstances leading up to this problem. If he agreed to $450 then that is what the rent and he cannot go back and say that he paid too much. As for increasing the rent to $500, is the roommate now on the lease? Did he sign anything regarding the rent increase. If not then you would have to give the roommate a 30 day notice of the rent increase. If he agreed to the rent increase and you can document then he will need to pay $500.

      As to the eviction, the landlord can hold you all jointly liable for the lease meaning that the landlord can evict everyone even though only one person has not paid their full amount.

      You can evict him. Eviction is process. It starts out with in this a 5 day notice to pay or vacate. If you roommate does not pay then you will have to go court. It takes a while.


    1. It sounds like a difficult situation. You might want to start by getting the other tenants together and to set up a meeting with owner. Thw owner may be able to pressure the tenants to move sooner. You might also want to visit your alderman and see if the alderman can do anything. If possible it would be good to document the situation, take pictures and notes about what is happening. You can go to the Daley Center to see if the landlord is actually evicting the tenants. You might be able to see what stage the eviction is in.

  17. Help Please,
    The desk attendant at my current residence (male about 6’2” 190lbs) and I (female 5’0” 115lbs) had a small altercation. Obviously, I am much smaller than he… and he put his hands on me first. This altercation resulted in some disagreements between me and the management. I need help. The management company has asked me to leave quietly and they won’t start the eviction process. They threatened: “This is not something you want on your record.” On Monday June 11th, the manager said I have to leave by June 30th. My lease actually ends on June 30th. I signed a renewal for that lease around mid-May for July 1st, 2012 through June 30th, 2013. However, I did NOT make a copy of that signed lease. There was indication that the renewal lease would be trashed. They are already showing my apartment to prospective clients. I can’t find a suitable relocation in this short time… at this point of the busiest moving season. I just don’t know what to do. I even asked the building manager… if I could move out July 6th instead of June 30th, because I had found a place. He said absolutely not. I MUST be out by June 30th. I now lost that place. I love my apartment! I pay on time! I am responsible! I have lived here for 4 years! I love this building! Unfortunately, I don’t care for the attendant who works here on occasion and who actually started the altercation. Do I have the right to stay… at least until I find a more suitable location?

    1. If the landlord wants to evict you then they will have to take you to court. If you signed a renewal lease already, then the landlord will have to show that you violated the lease and that the violation is not correctable. To do this the landlord would have to start with 10 notice to vacate and state the reason why and whether the situation is correctable or not. I do not know what you lease provisions state, but many leases have provisions against inappropriate behavior. I have no idea as to what the manager said about the situation. Have you spoken with the manager of the building? Do other tenants have issues with the desk attendant? Were there any witnesses who will support your side? Is there any documentation that will prove your side of the story. In any case it would be best to contact an attorney. If it is a he said she said situation you will need the help of an attorney.

  18. I rent a house have been there for 2yrs and 8 months she gave me a letter stating I had to move out by June 13th and that I had to sign it I refused because I didn’t know if I would have an apartment by then so she gave me an eviction notice stating I had to move out by May 23rd which one would be the correct date and if I don’t find an apartment by then will she be able to evict me. I’m on time with my rent I always deposit the money to her account because she lives in wisconsin. In November and december I didn’t have heater didn’t complain but once cuz it was cold my husband does the repairs and when a window broke she was upset because she had to fix it because we didn’t break it it fell on its own.

    1. I cannot tell you if either notice is correct. If you are in the middle of a lease, then neither is correct unless there is a clause in the lease that allows for early termination. If you are on a month to month agreement then the landlord must give you at least a 30 day notice to terminate and it must coincide with the end of the lease period. So if the lease is from the first to the first then neither termination notice may be correct. This is of course assuming that you are current in rent and are following the rules of the agreement.

  19. My landlord is threatening to evict me from my apartment due to my neighbors below me saying that I am too loud and make too much noise. He gave me the option to terminate my lease early but I really like the apartment and do not feel I make that much noise. If I have one friend over and were walking around too much, he comes up to my door as early as 9:00pm to keep it down and turn off music even though the music is not very high. I have never been behind on my rent payments.

    Does the landlord have the right to terminate my lease? Also, if he does file suit to proceed with eviction, will he have to cover attorney fees or will that be out of my pocket?

    Thank you.

    1. Noise is a very difficult question to answer because it is very subjective. The landlord could say that you are violating your lease because you are making too much noise. It sounds like the downstairs neighbors will support his claim. Have you tried to talk with the neighbors. Sometimes mediation is useful for resolving noise issues. You can contact the Center for Conflict Resolution. It could be the units are poorly sound proofed. Possibly carpeting could help.

  20. My daughter is renting an apartment in Chicago her lease expires in May 1, 2012. She lost her job and had to take a job paying considerable less which created a financial hardship for her. She fell behind her rent in November but spoke with the Building Mgr. and made arrangements to pay on the back rent. Now the Mgr. gave her a 5-day notice after accepting partial payment. She refused to accept her current rent due in March. Last week,around 3/12 or 3/13, the Mgr. told her that on Monday she was going to be evicted from the apartment. My daughter asked her how could she evict her without going to court and the Mgr. told her that she had gone to court and had received papers to evict her and that they would be served to her tomorrow when her ‘stuff’ would be set outside. I have three questions: (1) Didn’t the Mgr. void the 5-day notice when she accepted partial payment of the rent (my daughter has an email from her on this)and when she made verbal arrangements to pay the balance? (2) Can my daughter be evicted without receiving a court hearing? (3) Can the Mgr. go to court without the tenant (my daughter)and receive eviction papers? Thank you.

    1. 1. Several things. From you letter I cannot tell if your daughter is covered under the Chicago law. If you daughter is behind in rent, and the landlord accepted partial payment, the landlord can still issue a new 5 day notice with the correct amount of rent owing. Did the landlord and your daughter have any written agreement regarding back rent. If they did then that would be very helpful. Verbal agreements are very difficult to prove in court.

      2. Before your daughter or any tenant can be legally evicted there needs to be a court hearing.

      3. It is possible. Under the law if the tenant cannot be found for service the landlord go ahead with the eviction posting the notice, which does not mean posting on the door. It means posting in places such as the sheriff’s office. Your daughter can go to the Daley Center, on the 6th floor there are computers and she can put her name in as defendant and see if there has been an eviction filed and when and it inform your daughter whether the service was successful.


  21. Ok,
    So besides my landlord turning off the heat…she has threatened me with eviction.

    I pay my rent on time, early in fact.

    The problem is I get up for work at 5 am. I try to be as quiet as I can be. But the fact that she can hear my foosteps, the bathroom water running…is EXCESSIVE to her.

    I live in an owner-occupied unit. She rents out a bedroom in her condo to me. Things were going ok, I work at 5 am, come home at 10pm. BARELY there.

    I am not a loud person. NEver have visitors except for my 6 yr old son that visits me every other weekend. And i make sure he and i are out so as not to disturb her.

    Well she is threatening me with eviction.

    I admit I also told her to leave me the “f’ alone because not one day goes by that she can’t complain about something I do. So she says she can evict me because of my use of foul language?

    I am so depressed, and on the brink of suicide. Yup. I am. I dont’ have any security with her threats of evicting me. She even has said she will tape me the next tape I tell her to leave me the “f” alone and send it to my job to have me fired.

    She’s crzay…and for the record…I only swore at her today because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

    Please tell me i have some rights. I would rather be able to break the lease on my terms than have her evict me.

    Plus I know she has toserve me with an eviction notice. Correct? And she has to put the corrective action I must take to stop from being evicted?

    I have no idea how to make my personal noise level that I make from getting up in the morning less.

    Unless i float instead of walking and dont’ use the bathroom.

    Please help me.

    I have nowhere to go if she evicts me.

    1. Because you have a lease, the landlord can only evict you for violating the lease which includes not paying the rent. I have not really heard anything that would violate the lease. I would read through the lease thoroughly and make sure that it does not include any clauses which you may be violating. I would be very cautious of saying anything that might be able to be construed as a threat because that could be grounds for termination. You are correct the landlord needs to give you an eviction notice stating why you are being evicted and you have the right to contest it.

  22. My landlord was forclosed on in August. There have been showings around the clock since then, but building(2 flat) is still for sale. Bank sent me a 5 day notice. How much time do I have before eviction?
    Secondly, I heard evicitons are scare in cold winter months(Chicago)

    1. It sounds like there are several issues. First is unless the landlord lives on the premises, the owner needs to be giving you at lest 2 days notice of their intent to enter. As for the bank sending you a 5 day notice, have you quit paying rent? If you pay the rent then the bank cannot kick you out with a 5 day notice. As for evictions in the winter, given the current weather conditions evictions are happening. Generally evictions do not occur if the temperature is below 15 degrees. We have not had a day like that yet. Also if it is snowing the sheriff generally does not evict. Otherwise the sheriff evicts in the winter. Maybe people have lost most of their belongs thinking that the sheriff will not evict in the winter.

  23. Received a 5-day notice for past due rent that I paid. Building is in foreclosure and paid the new landlord for December (cashed check). And paid November rent to previous landlord as agreed upon by new landlord. Have bank statements proving on-time payments since 2008. What should I do?

    1. Who gave you the 5-day notice, the old or the new landlord? If it is the old landlord, they cannot really do anything. I would get something in writing from the new owner stating they own the building. If it is the new owner then, start by sending copies of the bank statements show payment. Hopefully that will stop everything.

  24. My landlord evicted my roommate from our apartment, and when my roommate was served my name was not on the eviction notice, nor is my name on the lease. I have had a verbal month to month lease with the landlord. My roommate didnt go to court because he is planning on moving. My landlord told him that both of us have to be out, but doesnt he have to evict me separately because I wasnt listed on the eviction papers, or on the lawsuit.

  25. My landlord has filed for an eviction notice. I think I will be able to make up the past due rent, but he made a point of telling me hew would be filing and the fee for doing so (@$350 or so). If I pay him before the court date and he withdraws the complaint am I obligated to pay for his fees? Thanks very much.

  26. My daughter’s neighbor complained to their building manager that her children are too loud a few months ago. They are 2 yrs and 5yrs old. She received a 10 days notice indicating her music to loud. She does not have a radio, a computer or cd player. What are rights?

    1. You daughter may want to seek the advice of an attorney as it is almost always the best to have legal representation especially in cases that could end up with your daughter going to court. In her case it is important to respond to written notices from the landlord with a written response. If you daughter does not play music or have a radio etc., then it would be good to let the manager know there must be some kind of error and explain why.

      It is illegal for managers to discriminate against families with children though if the kids are making excessive noise that could be a reason for eviction. It is a fine line and one best to discuss with an attorney.

  27. I have an eviction notice however my landlord accepted half of the monies owed after the evicition process and he still wants me to move. Is this legal?

    1. Here are two parts of Chicago Landlord and tenants ordinance that may apply to your situation.

      Waiver of Landlord’s Right to Terminate. If the landlord accepts the rent due knowing that there is a default in payment of rent by the tenant, he thereby waives his right to terminate the rental agreement for that breach.

      (h) Remedy after Termination. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall have a claim for possession and/or for rent.

      It would be best to discuss your situation with an attorney. What happens may depend on what the agreement with the landlord was when you gave the money, whether it is possible to document the agreement. It is always best to get agreements in writing so that situations like this do not arise.

  28. In 2008 I was renting an apartment and when my unemployment compensation ran out, I went to the property manager and told him of my predicament. He told me to just move out and spare him and us an eviction action and then we would be done with it. I agreed and moved out promptly and didn’t hear about it again.

    Last year, when being checked for eviction history by a potential landlord that same property reported me as having been evicted. Checking on the Cook County Clerk web site I find a joint action between the property management company and a law firm. What is this thing? It does not look like an eviction to me, and they do ask for a sum of money. Just in case you want to look at it the case number is 2008-m1-721098. I am also wondering what I can say or show this potential landlord that could help me out in my rather urgent situation. Thank you.

  29. Hi John,

    I signed a lease last year that gave me a rental concession (credit) for one month, but the remainder of the lease would continue in normal payments. However, I continued to receive the monthly concession, and I paid the amount shown on my monthly rent ledger. Eight months later, I received an updated rent ledger that shows the landlord reversed the monthly concessions and that I owe a very large amount. They demanded payment immediately, but I asked if I could work out a monthly payment plan to repay the balance. The property manager told me the landlords agreed to allow me until December 31, 2011 to repay.

    However, now I received a 5 Day Notice to pay about 1/4 of the balance due. I still cannot afford to pay that chunk immediately, so I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to get evicted!

    1. Hi Ross,

      When your property manager agreed to let you have until December to repay, did you get this agreement in writing? If you have this agreement in writing, it is likely that you will not be evicted on those grounds, but you should still contact an attorney if your landlord files a case against you.

      If the agreement is not in writing, you have no way of proving the agreement was made, and you are not able to pay the balance, you are at risk for eviction, as the only written agreement you have is your lease agreement and the only thing that can be proven is that you are in violation of it. You can try communicating your request for a payment agreement to the property manager again, but be sure to get it in writing. If you are not able to do so, contact an attorney about representing you in eviction court. You never want to go to court without one. Let us know if you need a legal referral.

  30. Dec 2009 one of the other tenants called for an inspector because she was behind on rent and the landlord wouldn’t turn her heat on because of it. They spoke with us and we told them some of our heaters weren’t working either. they moved out but after that he came and asked me why did i sign the petition for the heaters. I told him because it was true,some of our heaters weren’t working. I’ve paid my rent a few weeks behind here and there since then and over the months he’s refused to fix anything in my apartment.I have no lease and want to send a rent reduction letter to him. I know he’ll be upset and now I’m wondering if he can evict me for sending the letter or will I be protected by the retaliatory eviction act?

    1. The Chicago Ordinance states It is declared to be against public policy of the City of Chicago for a landlord to take retaliatory action against a tenant, except for violation of a rental agreement or violation of a law or ordinance. A landlord may not knowingly terminate a tenancy, increase rent, decrease services, bring or threaten to bring a lawsuit against a tenant for possession or refuse to renew a lease or tenancy because the tenant has in good faith:(d) requested the landlord to make repairs to the premises as required by a building code, health ordinance, other regulation, or the residential rental agreement;

      Some other thoughts are to send a copy of the letter to your alderman and to the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, it can help to add to your protections.

      Failing to pay the rent is an evictable offense. The inability to pay poses problems for tenants seeking to assert their rights. If you are currently behind in rent, the best advice might be to talk with an attorney before proceeding.

  31. I am facing a court date, I have fallen 3 weeks behind on current month and told property manager I would pay at the end of month. When summons it stated that I owed rent for two months plus $430 for fees. I did pay the previous months rent and have cashiers check to prove; What can I expect at court without an attourney and I also have $1750 security deposite at stake with a rent owed of $875.00… Please inform Thanks

    1. First whenever you have to go to court it is important to have an attorney. Here is a link to attorney referrals https://www.tenants-rights.org/legal-other-resources/ Our experience is that tenants who go to court without an attorney lose. The Lawyers Committee for Better Housing study showed that over 98% of unrepresented tenants lose. If you have been unable to get an attorney, the first step would be to ask for a continuance (at your first appearance) to try and obtain the service of one. It is important not to discuss the issues of the case but rather just to ask for a continuance to get an attorney. In most cases you will be allowed one week to find an attorney.

  32. my friend is a month behind on his rent, he currently has a lease, his family are occupying the appartment. [of a 2 flat building] He is currently incarcerated and no telling when he will be released from jail? Is incarceration a violation of a chicago residental lease? can the landlord evict him and his family?

    1. Is this a subsidized unit? If so it may be a lease violation. If this is not subsidized, then you should read the lease and see what it says. Most leases probably are silent on this issue. Certainly, the family needs to continue to pay rent and follow the other rules of the lease. Lastly, the landlord must give you a lease violation notice before anything happens.

  33. My aunt and I are behind on rent and are living in this apartment where my parents are the lease holders but a few months they left for a so called “vacation” in Florida and refuse to answer my calls and stopped paying rent abandoning us. We are now facing eviction. I tried to work out something with the property manager but to no avail. The property is a management company and I asked the building manager if I could speak to the management company and refused to give me any info on them and not let me talk to them and said everything goes through him. His wife then went into my aunts place of employment and yelled at her to pay the rent or get out and threatened to call the police on us and then served her with a 5day notice to vacate. Now we have just been served with an summons eviction notice that was given to my aunt by a police officer at her place of employment. Is this legal for them to do these things at her place of employment even though she is not on the lease nor did she sign it?

    1. Even though your parents are the lease holders, the landlord can name all occupants in the unit on the summons. I am not sure why the management company was unwilling to work out an arrangement with you. You can continue to negotiate with the owners and see if they will stop the eviction if you pay or if you move out. The owner has no rights to come to your place of employment to harass you or your aunt. Your aunt could ask her employer to bar the people from her job and they can be asked to leave and if they do not then you can call the police and they can be arrested.

  34. Hello

    my landlord just gave me a 5 day notice. my problem is that he had my13 year old son sign for it, I was wondering is this legal for him to give him this notice and have him sign anything because he is under age. the landlord excuse is it is legal and by him being 13 it is fine.

      1. what if the landlord just drops off a notice or summons? i found an eviction summons on our back porch the other day. it states i am to appear in court this friday and pay a fee. not only was i not properly notified of the eviction, i am the only name on the summons and there are two other people on the lease with me and two other people that live there that are not on the lease. what do i do?

  35. We recently discovered after mistakenly being served a 5-day notice that our landlord was applying our rental payments to a judgment from another place we lived first instead of to our rent first. The ledger showed that this had been going on since December 2009. We have a lease. Now the landlord wants us to sign an agreement which places priority on paying the judgment first or 50/50 which still leaves a balance owed on our rent. This does not make sense to pay a judgment before paying rent. Doesn’t that violate the terms of the lease? Especially if they say that the lease is in full force and effect? They say this is standard procedure. They even admitted that they had not used any of the funds to place the security deposit in a separate fund. We have been paying extra money every month since December 2009 when we moved to our present place, but we thought that the security deposit and rent was being paid first. This is a short version of the story. Do we have any rights in this situation?

    1. I think that you will need to consult with an attorney about this as I am not familiar with the laws regarding debt payment. Questions that I would look at are what were the terms of the judgment, when you moved in was there a discussion about back rent and security deposit and what was the agreement, was that discussion documented in writing in any way.


  36. The apartment building that I live in is being sold. We only have a verbal lease. We also have not gotten anything in writing telling us we have to move, so we are left in the dark about when this date will occur. We are low income. We heard that the new owner wants us out at the time of sale. If the current land lord fails to notify us, would it then be inherent upon the new owner to evict us? Also, would the eviction hamper our ability to find a new apartment? How much time is usually given after a place is sold for the old tenants to vacate?

    1. If your apartment is being sold normally, then your new landlord will simply have the same responsibilities as the old one. You are on a verbal or “month-to-month” lease. If your landlord would like to do anything – raise your rent, ask you to move – (s)he will have to give you a full 30 days notice in writing. If your new landlord calls you up on Sept 5th and says you need to be out by Sept 30th, that is invalid. If your landlord provides you with a 30 day written notice dated for Sept 1st but actually hands it to you Sept 4th, it is not valid for Sept 30th – instead you’d have till the end of Oct. Keep in mind that you will have to pay rent. Also, the new landlord will be responsible for returning your security deposit.

      Once that valid 30 day notice is up, only then can your landlord successfully take you to eviction court and evict you. If that eviction goes through and a judgment is made against you, it may affect your ability to get approved for an apartment in the future. If you do find yourself served with eviction court papers, call MTO for a free attorney – if you go to court without an attorney, it is a near guarantee that you will lose. Call us as soon as you get served. 773.292.4988

      If your apartment is being sold in some sort of foreclosure proceedings, your new landlord may not be responsible for your security deposit. But you may have at least 90 days to move out if it is a foreclosure type situation. These can get quite complicated. I recommend you call our hotline (773.292.4988 M-F 1-5pm) if you do discover that its a foreclosure case. This may also be helpful: https://www.tenants-rights.org/faq-tenants-and-foreclosure/

  37. We were told by the managers assistant of our apartment complex that we do not have to pay rent for the month of May because of the following issues;

    Huge mice problem (groceries had to be thrown out and a few shirts of mine got ruined)
    Terrible cat smell

    They did finally send an exterminator out after complaining a lot.

    This was after she said we could have the free month for all our troubles.

    I called the manager (the landlord) and he said she never said that and that she does not have the authorization to tell us we can have free rent. It is now May 24th and today after calling her about a current ant problem now. She told me that we had 5 days to pay the rent or he is going to evict us. He was VERY rude to me on the phone and i ended up crying because he wouldn’t even listen to me he just kept saying paying the rent or go I don’t care and maybe you guys aren’t the right people for this apartment because you are complaining to much. We did not complain the first 5 months and just did this month because things were getting worse and worse! I am very upset whats our renters rights?

    1. Certainly you should not have to live mice, horrible odors or ants. I would start by putting things in writing. I would start with you going over what has been happening. You can thank them for calling the exterminator and let them know that problem seems to be resolved though now you are having an ant problem and hope that they can fix that. The Chicago law states that landlords have 14 days to make any repairs once they have received written notice. I would add that the assistant manager stated that in a conversation on such and such date that you did not have to pay rent for the month of May because of all the problems that you have been having. If this is not the case then you should talk because you feel that you are entitled to a rebate because of the conditions that you lived trough.

      To be on the safe side, I would pay the rent and plan to work things out. You could say that you paying the rent in good faith that you will be able to work something out. In the future when managers, owners etc say anything you need to get it in writing. In fact you can follow up the next day in writing this is to confirm our conversation. You said ….

  38. My daughter is renting an aparment in the city. She has been in this apartment for over a year. She informed the landlord that she’s looking for an apartment and will inform him when she finds something. The landlord brought someone to look at the apartment and told my daughter the new tenant would be moving in on the first and she had to move. My daughter did not sign a lease and is current in her payments. What rights if any does she have?

    1. The owner is required to give a her a 30 day written notice. It needs to coincide with the rental period. So if the rental period id from the first to the first then the notice needs to be given by the first of the month.

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