Eviction in Rockford or the Surrounding Area? We Can Help.
Here’s the deal:
When your tenant stops paying rent or breaks other parts of the lease, you can lose money fast.
As a landlord myself, I know the emotions and financial strain that happens when tenants fall behind on their rent or other conflicts in the landlord-tenant
When your tenants leave you no choice but to evict them, you can rely on the Law Office of Adrian Murati to help you through the process in a professional and
cost-effective manner. As a Rockford eviction lawyer, I have helped numerous residential and commercial landlords in the area with evictions and other landlord-tenant disputes.
Call me at (815) 289-3209 to discuss your eviction case or other landlord-tenant issue. I am happy to spend a few minutes on the phone to discuss your situation and
see whether our landlord eviction services would be appropriate for your situation.
If you want to learn more about the rules and procedures of Rockford evictions, check out the guide below.
Landlord's Guide to Rockford Evictions
Let’s get right into it:
If you want your tenant to move out, you can’t just show up at the unit and kick out the tenants or lock them out or shut off the utilities.
No! No! No!
That is illegal and not only can you be sued by your tenants, but you can also face criminal charges and fines.
Sorry to break the bad news:
If you want to evict a tenant, you must go through the (horrible, costly, and time consuming) formal court process known as a Forcible Entry and Detainer
Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the whole process.
5 Phases of the Eviction Process
Here is a breakdown of the different phases of the eviction process in Illinois:
Phase 1: Determine Whether You Can Evict Your Tenant
Step 1: Tenant fails to pay rent or breaks rules in the lease and the landlord wants to replace the tenant with a
Step 2: Determine if you can evict your tenant.
Step 3: Consider any legal defenses or counterclaims the tenant may have.
Phase 2: Give the Tenant Notice That You Will Evict Them
Step 1: Determine the written notice you need depending on the situation.
Step 2: Prepare the notice.
Step 3: Serve the tenant with the notice.
Step 4: Wait for the notice period to expire before filing an eviction case.
Step 5 (Optional): Try to work things out with your tenant.
Phase 3: Prepare the Court Documents and File the Case
Step 1: Prepare the Complaint and Summons.
Step 2: File the Complaint at the Courthouse.
Step 3: Serve the Tenant with the Complaint.
Phase 4: Landlord-Tenant Court
Step 1: Prepare and attend the first court date.
Step 2: If the tenant challenges the eviction, prepare for trial.
Phase 5: What Happens After Landlord-Tenant Court
Step 1: Give the Order of Possession to the sheriff and arrange a time for the sheriff to meet the landlord at the
property to evict the tenant(s).
Step 2: Meet the sheriff at the unit for the eviction.
Step 3: Change the locks and inspect the unit to determine damages.
Step 4: Determine whether to return Security Deposit.
Step 5: Collect money the tenant owes you for rent and property damage.
Phase 1: Determine Whether You Can Evict Your Tenant
Once you have made up your mind that you want to evict your tenant, you start the process with these steps:
Step 1: Tenant fails to pay rent or breaks rules in the lease and the landlord wants to replace the tenant with a better tenant
You know the typical scenario: tenant falls behind on rent again with no money to pay but plenty of excuses. I’ve heard just about every excuse in the book short of
“my dog ate the rent check.”
Besides falling behind on rent, there can be plenty of reasons that lead you to consider evicting your tenant.
There is the far-too-common “party” tenant with neighbors constantly complaining about loud music late at night and rowdy guests.
Or how about the “filthy” tenant that trashes the place and keeps bothering you to come make repairs.
Step 2: Determine if you can evict your tenant
The list of troublesome tenants goes on and on, but just remember that a landlord can evict a tenant if the tenant:
Doesn’t pay rent on time;
Violates the lease agreement;
Causes damage to the property;
Does not move out at the end of the lease; or
Has no written lease and the landlord gives a 30-day notice.
Step 3: Consider any legal defenses or counterclaims the tenant may have
Needless to say, you do not want to waste time and money if your tenant has a legal defense that will allow them to win the case.
Be aware of the many situations in which you CANNOT evict a tenant:
A landlord cannot evict for a discriminatory reason. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits a landlord from evicting a
tenant based on race, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability. Additionally, the Illinois Human Rights Act gives tenants all the same protections but further
prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their sexual orientation.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant just because the tenant reported housing or health code violations. Under the Illinois Retaliatory Eviction
Act, a landlord cannot evict a tenant or refuse to renew their lease just because a tenant made a complaint to any governmental authority.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant if the landlord does not give the tenant written notice or the wrong type of notice. There are a few different
eviction notices that a landlord must give a tenant depending on the situation. For example, if the landlord wants to evict the tenant for breaking a rule in the lease then the landlord must
give the tenant a 10-day notice. However, if the landlord only gave the tenant a 5-day notice instead, then the tenant can have the case dismissed for improper notice.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant if they improperly served the notice. A landlord must comply with the rules regarding manner of service. For
example, if a landlord just left the notice in the tenant’s mailbox instead of delivering it to the tenant, then the tenant can argue that the landlord improperly served the notice and have
the case dismissed.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant if the landlord files the eviction case too early. A landlord must wait for the notice period to end before
filing the eviction lawsuit. Holidays and weekends are included in the timeframe. If the landlord files the case too early, the case will be dismissed and the landlord must refile and repay
the filing fee.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant if the tenant pays the full rent during the 5-day notice period. If a landlord files an eviction lawsuit after
the tenant has paid the full rent owed, then the tenant can have the case dismissed. However, after the 5-day notice period is over, the landlord can accept full payment of the rent owed and
proceed with the eviction.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant for not paying rent if the landlord failed to make necessary repairs to the rental unit. Every rental
agreement in Illinois has an implied promise known as a warranty of habitability that requires landlords to keep the rental unit in a safe and sanitary condition. If a tenant notifies the
landlord of needed repairs and the landlord fails to make those repairs, then the tenant can use the failure to make the repairs as justification for not paying rent and have the eviction
The bottom line is this:
Tenants have many legal defenses they can use to delay or outright dismiss your eviction case. Many aspects of landlord-tenant law are highly technical, and if you
overlook what might seem like a minor issue, the judge can dismiss your case (even on a technicality) and it will cost you even more time, money, and stress.
Here's the worst part:
Under 735 ILCS 5/9-114, if a landlord loses the case, the judge must order the landlord to pay for the tenant’s court costs.
If you lose the case against your tenant even because of a technicality, the judge will order you to pay money to your tenant. That means that your tenant could
rightfully owe you money for rent but because you didn’t do everything perfectly right, you will lose the case and must pay them money.
And what’s worse?
You must refile the case and repay the filing fees. Then you must still wait for the next court date weeks later while your tenant continues to freeload off your
property. A tenant could even file a counterclaim against you.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that before you file an eviction case you consider all possible tenant defenses to the eviction and make sure every part of the eviction
process is done perfectly right.
Phase 2: Giving the Tenant Notice That You Will Evict Them
Once you have determined that you want to evict a tenant, you must give the tenant a written eviction notice before you file an eviction case against them. During
the notice phase of the eviction, a landlord must go through these steps:
Step 1: Determine the written notice you need depending on the situation
You must give the tenant the right notice. These are the common types of notices:
5 Day Notice – If the tenant is behind on rent, the landlord must give them a
5-day written notice. If the tenant pays the rent owed within the 5 days, the landlord must take the money and cannot evict the tenant. However, if the tenant does not pay the rent within the
5-day period, the landlord can evict the tenant. If the tenant pays the rent after the 5-day period, the landlord may accept the money as money owed, and a landlord can either dismiss the
eviction case or proceed with the eviction.
10 Day Notice – If the tenant breaks the rules in the lease agreement, then you can
serve the tenant with a 10 day written notice.
30 Day Notice – If you have a month-to-month lease (including oral leases), you must give your
tenant a 30-day notice. The tricky part about this notice is the timing. You can’t just serve the tenant with the 30-day notice, and then wait 30 days before starting the eviction case. You must
serve the tenant at least 30 days before the last day of a tenancy period. For example, if you want to evict your tenant by January 31, you would have to serve the tenants with a 30 day notice by
January 1. You do not have to wait for the tenant to fall behind on rent before serving them with a 30 day notice.
Additionally, there a few other types of notices used in special circumstances:
7 Day Notice - If your agreement with the tenant is a week-to-week lease, you can give them a 7-day written notice. You do not have to wait for the
tenant to fall behind on rent, you can give them the notice at any time.
60 Day Notice – A landlord must give a 60 day written notice if the lease is a year-to-year lease. This notice cannot be served earlier than 4
months before the end date of the lease.
90 Day Notice – In rare situations when the rental unit or property is put into foreclosure, the new landlord may have to give the tenant a 90 day
notice depending on the circumstances.
No Notice – The landlord need not give written notice if the lease contains a provision saying that the tenant waives the right to receive written
It is essential that you use the right type of notice depending on the situation. If you serve the tenant with the wrong notice, they can have the case dismissed.
For example, if a tenant breaks the lease by having a pet and you serve them with a 5 day notice (which is used for a tenant not paying rent) instead of a 10 day notice (which is used for a
tenant breaking rules in the lease) then the tenant can have the case dismissed.
Step 2: Prepare the Notice
Depending on the type of notice you must use for your situation, the law requires that the notice contains certain information and statutory language. The most
common types of notices are the 5 day notice, 10 day notice, and 30 day notice. I strongly recommend that you download and print off the notice from the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk’s website
since these notices have been drafted to comply with all the requirements.
Once you have the correct form, fill out the top portion of the notice and then make a copy of the notice. Do not fill out the section titled “Proof of Service”
until after you have served the tenant. Once you have served the tenant with the notice, then you will fill out the “Proof of Service” section and have it notarized.
Do not rip off the “Proof of Service” section and have that notarized. Without the top portion of the notice, it will be worthless.
Step 3: Serve the tenant with the notice
Once you have determined the right type of written notice to use and filled it out, the next step is to serve the tenant with the notice.
There are four options for serving your tenant:
(1) Personal Service: Hand deliver the notice to each tenant.
(2) Substitute Service: Give it to someone over the age of 13 who lives with the tenant.
(3) Service by Certified Mail: Mail it to the tenant by certified mail with a return receipt. You take the notice and go to the post office and the
postal workers can help you fill out a special green card to send the notice by certified mail. Once the post office delivers the certified mail to your tenant, the tenant will sign the green
card, and the post office will return the green card to you which is your proof you sent it by certified mail and that the tenant actually received the notice.
(4) Posting Notice: You can post the notice on the door if you can’t find your tenant and the rental unit appears to be abandoned.
If a tenant knows that you will serve them and is avoiding you, I recommend contacting Rockford Detective Agency. They charge $40 to serve your tenant and make up
to eight attempts. I personally use Rockford Detective Agency in cases and they have been able to serve very difficult tenants avoiding service.
As a reminder, after you serve the tenant with the notice, you must fill out the “Proof of Service” section and have it notarized.
Step 4: Wait for the notice period to expire before filing an eviction case
Lastly, be sure to wait the required time, depending on the notice, before filing the eviction case. For example, a 5 day notice means that the tenant is entitled
to five full days to make full payment of overdue rent. That means if you served them on the 5th day of the month, the tenant gets the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and until midnight on the 10th. You
cannot file the eviction case until the 11th.
Don’t make the mistake of filing the eviction case early or your case will be dismissed.
Step 5 (Optional): Try to work things out with your tenant
As you can see, I purposely put this as the last step. That’s because I strongly recommend that landlords serve their tenants with a notice immediately after the
tenant misses a rent payment so the landlord can start the eviction process as early as possible to avoid losing further money.
When a tenant misses a rent payment, they usually come up with a clever excuse and promise they will pay the rent soon. Often, a landlord will give them the benefit
of the doubt and waits to receive the rent. When the tenant still doesn’t pay and the landlord realizes the tenant has no intentions of paying, the landlord still must serve the tenant with a
written notice and wait for the notice period to expire before filing for eviction.
We’ve all been there.
That’s why I recommend serving the tenant with a notice at the earliest opportunity. It lets the tenant know that you are serious about collecting the rent money
and allows you to minimize the time you must wait before evicting them.
Once you have served them with the notice, then you can discuss an arrangement for the tenant to pay you the overdue rent.
Phase 3: Prepare the Court Documents and File the Case
After you give your tenant a written notice and the notice period ends, you can file an eviction case against them. During this phase of the eviction process, a
landlord must go through these steps:
Step 1: Prepare the Complaint and Summons
There are three main documents you must fill out to bring an eviction case:
Complaint Forcible Detainer – This is the main document that formally begins the eviction process. You
must fill out the form with basic information like the landlord’s name, tenant’s name, amount of rent owed, rental unit address, etc.
Military Service Affidavit – This is a document you fill out stating whether your tenant is in the
military. If your tenant is in the military, then special rules apply to the eviction.
Summons – This is the document that officially notifies the tenant that an eviction case
has been filed against them.
Remember, in an eviction case there are four things you are suing for:
(1) Possession of the Rental Unit
(2) Unpaid Back Rent
(3) Court Costs
(4) Attorney’s Fees
Step 2: File the Complaint at the Courthouse
Once you have prepared your complaint, military service affidavit, and summons, you are ready to officially begin the eviction case. Take all the documents to the
Winnebago County Courthouse in downtown Rockford at 400 West State Street.
After you go through security, the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk’s Office is on the first floor in Room 108. Once you enter, you will wait in line by the sign that
says “Civil Cases.” Once it is your turn, you will approach the filing window and let the clerk know that you want to file an eviction case.
The clerk will take your documents and stamp them, and you must pay a filing fee of $188. Lastly, the clerk will assign you a date to appear in landlord-tenant
court. In Winnebago County, eviction cases are usually scheduled on Mondays but if a court holiday falls on a Monday then the clerk will schedule the case for a Wednesday.
Step 3: Serve the Tenant with the Complaint
Once you have filed the eviction case, it is your responsibility to arrange to have the sheriff or a private process server personally deliver the complaint and
summons to the tenant.
I do not recommend having the sheriff serve the papers. They only make a single attempt to serve your tenant, and if they do not serve the tenant then it will delay
the whole eviction process.
I recommend using a private process server. I use Rockford Detective Agency in all my eviction cases. They charge $35 to serve your tenant and make up to eight
attempts. They have helped several of my clients serve tenants avoiding service. Once they serve your tenant, they will provide you with an affidavit of service. You must bring the affidavit of
service to Court and give it to the judge.
Phase 4: Landlord-Tenant Court
Once you have filed your complaint and served the tenant, you are ready to attend landlord-tenant court which consists of these steps:
Step 1: Prepare and attend the first court date
Where are eviction cases in Winnebago County?
Eviction cases in Winnebago County take place in downtown Rockford at the following address:
Winnebago County Courthouse
400 West State Street
Rockford, Illinois 61101
Eviction cases take place on the third floor of the courthouse in courtroom 311 in front of Judge Balogh.
When are eviction cases scheduled for?
Eviction cases are scheduled on Mondays at 8:30 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. If a court holiday falls on a Monday, then eviction cases will be scheduled on Wednesday at 8:30
What should you bring to Court?
You must bring these documents to court:
(3) Military Service Affidavit
(4) Affidavit of Service
(5) Supporting Documents
What happens when the judge calls your case?
Once you get to the courtroom, have a seat and wait for the judge to call your case. When your case is called, walk over to the Judge’s bench and stand in front of
the judge. The judge will look at the court file, and will ask you to provide the affidavit of service (or other court documents).
There are a couple different possibilities on the day of court:
Tenant is served and does not come to court: Often, the tenant does not even bother to show up to court. In that case,
the judge can enter a default judgment and award possession of the property and a money judgment for the overdue rent, court costs, and attorney’s fees.
Tenant is served and comes to court: If the tenant shows up to court, the judge will ask them whether they admit that they owe rent or broke a
rule of the lease. If they admit it, then the judge will order possession and a money judgment. If they deny it, then the judge will set the case for trial a few weeks later.
Tenant is not served and comes to court: Even if the tenant has not been served but they show up to the court, they can voluntarily submit to
the court’s jurisdiction and the judge can order an eviction that day. However, if the tenant challenges the court’s jurisdiction, the judge can order you to formally serve them and will
provide you with another court date.
Tenant is not served and does not come to court: If the tenant has not been served with the complaint by the time of the first court
appearance, the judge must push back the eviction to another court date and you must make another attempt to serve them.
Step 2: If the tenant challenges the eviction, prepare for trial
If your tenant comes to court and denies that they owe you rent or they have a legal defense to the eviction, then the judge will set the case for a trial a few
weeks later. Typically, it will be a bench trial which is just a trial in front of the judge. However, the tenant can request a jury trial.
Whether it is a bench trial or a jury trial, we must formally present your case to the judge or jury. The trial begins with a brief opening statement that
summarizes the case. Next, the landlord will testify about the reasons the tenant is being evicted. Documents, such as a lease agreements, must be formally introduced into evidence. The tenants
or other witnesses may also be called to testify.
After the landlord finishes presenting the case, the tenant gets a chance to present their version. They also can raise legal defenses or present counterclaims
against the landlord. After the tenant finishes presenting their case, both sides will make a brief closing statement that summarizes the case and the judge or jury will issue a
Phase 5: What Happens After Landlord-Tenant Court
Once the judge has granted a landlord an Order of Possession, the landlord cannot just show up at the property and kick out the tenants. After landlord-tenant
court, a landlord must go through these steps:
Step 1: Give the Order of Possession to the sheriff and arrange a time for the sheriff to meet the landlord at the property to evict the
A judge can grant a landlord an immediate Order of Possession which entitles the landlord to immediate possession of the property. However, often a judge will grant
a landlord an Order of Possession and “stay execution” for 7 to 14 days which means a landlord must wait for that period to expire before moving forward with the eviction.
Whether the judge grants an immediate Order of Possession or “stays execution”, a landlord must contact the Winnebago County Sherriff to schedule the sheriff to
meet the landlord at the rental property and remove the tenants from the property. After court, I recommend walking over to the Winnebago County Justice Center, which is located right next to the
At the Winnebago County Justice Center, you must give the sheriff the Order of Possession and pay a fee of $79 plus mileage. The sheriff will look at their calendar
and tell you which dates and times they are available to come to the property and perform the eviction. You will schedule a date for the eviction that works with your schedule and the
Step 2: Meet the sheriff at the unit for the eviction
Most of the time, the tenant will move out before the day of the eviction so it may be worth stopping by the rental unit to see whether the tenant is still living
there. If the tenant has moved out, then you can contact the Winnebago County Sherriff to cancel the eviction. The Sherriff will refund the fee you paid to them except they will keep $5 as an
If your tenant has not moved out by the date of the eviction, then you must meet the Winnebago County Sherriff at the rental property. The sheriff will enter the
unit and if the tenant is still in the rental property, the sheriff will remove them from the property. The sheriff will also instruct the tenant that if they attempt to reenter the property, the
sheriff will arrest them for trespassing.
The sheriff’s role is to keep the peace and make sure that no one gets hurt during the eviction process. My experience with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s office is
that they are very professional in carrying out evictions.
Step 3: Change the locks and inspect the unit to determine damages
Once the sheriff has escorted the tenant off the premises, the first thing you will want to do is change the locks so the tenant cannot reenter. After changing the
locks, you must remove any property that the tenant left behind to the nearest public space, which is usually the curb.
Next, you will want to do a thorough inspection of the property to determine if the tenant caused any damage to the property. It’s a good idea to have a checklist
and don’t forget to take pictures of any damaged property.
Step 4: Determine whether to return Security Deposit
The Illinois Security Deposit Return Act set outs the rules and procedures for security deposits.
Most landlords require a tenant to pay a security deposit when they sign the lease agreement. While Illinois law does not limit how much a landlord can require a
tenant to pay for a security deposit, usually landlords ask for a single month’s rent.
When a tenant moves out or is evicted, a landlord can use the security deposit for three reasons:
(1) to cover the expenses and labor costs for damage to the rental property beyond normal wear and tear;
(2) to cover for cleanup costs of excessive filth caused by the tenant; and
(3) to cover unpaid rent.
The Illinois Security Deposit Return Act sets out strict deadlines for landlords of properties that consist of 5 or more units to return the security deposit.
Additionally, a landlord must provide an itemized statement and receipts associated with the damages. If a landlord does not do everything correct when it comes to returning the security deposit,
a tenant can sue the landlord for double the security deposit.
Step 5: Collect money the tenant owes you for rent and property damage
If the tenant owes you money, whether for damages to the property or unpaid rent, you must go through further court proceedings to collect that money.
If you went to landlord-tenant court and the judge granted you a court order (sometimes called a money judgment) which states that the tenant owes you a certain
amount of money, then you have two options on how to collect the money:
(1) Lien on Real Estate: If your tenant purchases real estate, you can go to the county recorder’s office and record a judgment lien on the
property. In certain cases, you can go to court and force a sale of the property at a judicial auction with a portion of the proceeds going to you to cover for the money the tenant owes. Another
option is to record your judgment lien and wait until the tenant wants to sell the property. In that case, the tenant must pay off the money they owe you so you will remove the lien before they
can continue with the sale of their property.
(2) Citation to Discover Assets: After obtaining a money judgment, a landlord can ask the court to require the tenant to come back to court and
answer questions under oath about the tenant’s employment and assets. For example, a landlord can ask the tenant to provide information about the tenant’s employer and bank account information.
With this information, a landlord can garnish the tenant’s wages or make the bank turn over money in the tenant’s account to the landlord.
Recovering unpaid rent from a tenant you did not have to evict: If you did not have to evict the tenant but the tenant moved out while still owing you rent, then
you must start a case against them, usually in small claims court, to recover the money.
Recovering compensation for property damage caused by the tenant: In landlord-tenant court, the judge cannot give you a money judgment for damage to the property.
You must wait until the tenant moves out or is evicted so you can enter the property and assess the damages. You must then initiate a separate lawsuit against the tenant, usually in small claims
court, to recover for the cost of repair (materials and labor costs) associated with the damages. It’s usually only worth pursuing the tenant for property damage if the damage is
Do You Need a Lawyer to Evict a Tenant?
Let’s get down to business. The truth is that plenty of landlords successfully evict their tenants without any help from a lawyer.
But remember this:
IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that you do every part of the eviction process perfectly right. If you make even a slight error, the tenant can win the case.
That’s right. Even a tiny slip up such as not serving the tenant with the right notice or filing a case too early can cause the judge to dismiss your case. I’ve
seen way too many landlords represent themselves and lose on technicalities.
At the Law Office of Adrian Murati, we help landlords during the eviction process in the following ways:
(1) Determine whether you can evict your tenant and consider any legal defenses of counterclaims the tenant may have;
(2) Make sure you use the right type of notice and properly serve the tenant;
(3) Prepare all the court documents and file the case;
(4) Arrange to have a private process server deliver the court papers to the tenant;
(5) Attend landlord-tenant court;
(6) If your tenant challenges the eviction, then we prepare to present the eviction case at trial;
(7) Once the eviction case is over we will give the order of possession to the sheriff’s office and arrange a time for them to come evict the tenant at the
(8) Assist in recovering money the tenant owes for unpaid rent and property damage.
We also assist landlords with other areas of landlord-tenant law including:
Compensation for property damage
Tenant claims alleging lease violations, unlawful rent increases, code noncompliance including health department violations, safety issues, uninhabitable
conditions, discrimination claims, and failure to make required disclosures.
Online Resources for Landlords
If you want more information on landlord tenant law in Illinois, check out the following links:
At the Law Office of Adrian, we provide landlords in Rockford and the surrounding area with top-notch service at an affordable rate. If you need to evict a tenant
in Rockford or the surrounding area or need help with other areas of landlord and tenant law, call us at (815) 289-3209 to speak with a Rockford landlord tenant lawyer.