How Long Does It Take to Evict Someone?

How Long Does It Take to Evict Someone?

Last updated: July 2007

The following question was submitted to John Roska, an attorney/writer whose weekly newspaper column, "Q&A: The Law," runs in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Illinois Edition) and the Champaign News Gazette.

Question

How long does it take to evict someone? What’s the absolute fastest it could go?

Answer

How fast an eviction case takes depends on two basic things: how much notice is required before the court case, and how fast your local court system can schedule cases and trials. Landlords have little control over those things. A written notice, terminating the tenant’s right to live on the landlord’s property, is required to start an eviction case. The only exception—the only time no notice is required before suing to evict—is when a written lease expires. 

Eviction notices come in three flavors: five, ten, and 30 days. A 30 day notice is only for terminating a month-to-month. Oral leases are usually month-to-month, but can be written, too.

A ten day notice can be used for lease breaches. Those are usually based on "do’s" and "do not's" spelled out in a written lease, but certain basic things—like paying rent on time, and not disturbing others—are implied in all leases.

The most common eviction notice is a five day notice for non-payment of rent. It says how much rent is owed, and gives five days to catch up. If the tenant catches up within five days, they can’t be evicted. If they don’t, the landlord can then sue to evict.

The main delay before filing in court, then, simply depends on how much time a particular eviction notice gives. Delay can also occur in getting the notice to the tenant.

Once an eviction case is filed, court rules say the first court date must be between seven and 40 days after the summons is issued. Summonses are usually issued the day the case is filed. 

That means that in an eviction case, the fastest possible first court date is seven days after the case is filed. Because few counties can schedule things that fast, the actual delay between filing and first court date will depend on your local court calendar. The outer limit, though, is that 40 days after the summons gets issued.

At the first court date, tenants can request a trial. Almost always, trials are some time after the first court date. As before, the time between the first court date and a trial depends on your local court schedules. Champaign County, where eviction trials are usually two days after the first appearance, goes about as fast as possible. Elsewhere, it could be weeks or months before trial.

If the landlord gets an eviction judgment against a tenant, how fast that gets enforced depends on the judge, and the sheriff’s schedule. Some judges give tenants time to move; some order them out immediately. (Tenants with kids do NOT automatically get time to move.) Once effective, the judgment gets enforced whenever the sheriff can physically remove the tenant. 

Theoretically, an eviction could go from a tenant getting a five day notice to being set out in 14 days. In practice, within 30 days is very fast. Five to eight weeks is probably realistic in most counties.

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