1. Fill out eviction forms
Fill out and sign the forms listed below. Make 4 copies of each form.
- Eviction Complaint: This form starts your eviction case.
- Summons: This form tells the tenant about the eviction case.
If you are filing in Cook County, you can use our Eviction Complaint and Summons form preparation program.
Note: When filling out the summons form, keep in mind that you can add the phrase “Unknown Occupants” as a defendant if you believe there are tenants in the unit whose names you don't know. Then, when the sheriff evicts the tenants, they will evict all of the people even if they aren't named in the order.
2. File your forms with the court
Do this at the courthouse in the county where you live to start your court case.
There is a fee to file most forms. The cost depends on the type of case you have and the county where you are filing. Contact your local circuit clerk's office for information on the fees.
If you do not have money to pay court fees, use the Application for Waiver of Court Fees program.
When you file your forms with the clerk they become part of the case. The clerk will stamp your forms. This stamp is important because it's proof that you filed the form with the court.
- E-filing: The documents you want to file with the court have to be uploaded into the system. You will need to create an account. See E-filing Basics for details.
- Paper filing: If you are paper filing bring the forms to the clerk at the courthouse in the county where you are filing. Bring all your copies and the originals with you when you file. Ask the clerk to stamp all your forms. They will keep the original. Keep at least one copy for your records. See courthouse locations.
How you will find out about the court date (or hearing date) and time depends on how you filed your case.
- E-filing: The website you used to electronically file may let you pick your court date (or hearing date) and time. If it does not, contact the clerk.
- Paper filing: If you filed in person at the courthouse, the clerk will let you pick or they may pick for you.
3. Tell the tenant about the eviction case
After the forms are filed, take a copy of the Eviction Complaint and Summons to the sheriff's office. The sheriff will then serve a copy of the Eviction Complaint and Summons on the tenant. There will be a fee for this service.
Call the sheriff's office a few days before your court date to make sure the tenant was served. If the sheriff was not able to serve the tenant, you will need to try again. The case cannot go forward until the tenant is served. You can try sheriff service again or use a special process server.
4. Go to court
- A copy of the eviction notice and Proof of Service signed by the notary public;
- A copy of your Eviction Complaint and Summons;
- A copy of the lease;
- Any witnesses to support your case; and
- Any objects, photographs, or other evidence that you want the judge to consider.
Get to court about 15 minutes early. This will give you time to find your courtroom and sign in. Tell the clerk, who sits to the right of the judge, the name of your case. Then sit in the courtroom and wait for your case to be called.
When your case is called, approach the bench and tell the judge your name and that you are the plaintiff. If the tenant does not show up in court, the tenant will most likely be held in default. This means that you will win the case.
In some counties, the trial will be held on the first court date. In other counties, the trial will be held on another day. Ask the court clerk how your county does it.
At the trial, you will first present your case for why the tenant should be evicted. Then, the judge will ask the tenant some questions.
If the judge rules for you, the court will grant an Eviction Order and may order the tenant to pay you the money that you asked for in the Eviction Complaint. Usually, the judge will give the tenant around 14 days to move.
If the tenant wins, your Eviction Complaint will be dismissed, and you will not get any amount of damages. The judge might also ask you to pay the costs and attorney's fees of the tenant.
5. Enforce the Eviction Order (if necessary)
If you win an eviction case against your tenant, the judge will sign an Eviction Order. This order will have the date the tenant has to move out by. The judge will probably give the tenant around 14 days to move out. You cannot do anything during this time.
If the tenant does not leave by the date stated in the Eviction Order, you can go to the sheriff's department with the Eviction Order and ask to have your tenant evicted. You must do this within 120 days of the day the Eviction Order was entered. After that time, you must get a new Eviction Order.
When the sheriff does the eviction, the sheriff does not take the tenants things out of the apartment. This is your job, but you cannot just throw the items away. You have to tell the tenant to take their belongings with them or put them in storage. If they do not do either of these things, you can put their belongings by the curb.
Remember, only the sheriff is allowed to physically remove your tenant from the unit. You as the landlord cannot do it on your own. Lockouts are illegal and dangerous.
Updated: January 2018