Usually, lockouts are illegal. Lockouts are when a landlord does one of the following things:
- Changes the locks, or
- Shuts off heat, water, electricity, or another important utility.
A landlord can only lock out a tenant after filing an eviction action in court and getting an order from a judge to evict that tenant. They must also wait for the sheriff to come out and perform the eviction.
In Chicago, a landlord may be able to lockout a tenant if:
- The tenant and the tenant’s family have left the property for 21 days, taken their belongings out of the house, and have not paid the rent;
- The tenant and the tenant’s family have left the property for 32 days or more and have not paid rent; or
- The tenant notified the landlord in writing that they are not living in the apartment anymore.
If an illegal lockout costs the tenant money, they may be able to sue the landlord in court for those damages.
If the tenant believes that the lockout is illegal, they have the option to call the police to stop the lockout. If the officer doesn’t help, the tenant has the option to send a demand letter to the officer’s supervisor to stop the lockout. The police may not be able to help the tenant, but they can’t physically remove the tenant.
A tenant has the option to take the landlord to court to get back into their apartment. If you are a tenant who was illegally locked out of your home, you can use our End illegal lock out demand program to create letters to your landlord and the police.
Updated: May 2018