So, you have a tenant that you want to evict. This could be due to them falling behind in rental payments, breaking a provision in the lease such as maintaining the property, or maybe you have a month-to-month tenancy with them and simply don’t want to continue on with the relationship. All of these instances are valid reasons to evict a tenant but one of the key mistakes made by landlords is how and when they deliver notice of their decision to end the tenancy.

When it comes to landlord-tenant law, Illinois is very strict when it comes to the notice requirement and this is often a key defense that a tenant can raise in an eviction action. In order to begin an eviction action, you have to declare the tenancy terminated. In order to declare the tenancy terminated, you MUST serve your tenant with proper notice. If they were not served proper notice, then they can argue that their tenancy has not yet been terminated and the eviction case against them must be dismissed and restarted once they have been served proper notice and the notice period has elapsed.

In Illinois, it is the preference of the Court to refer to the Lease Agreement signed by both parties for all terms of the tenancy, including for how notice is given. While a lease can set the terms for how notice can be given, rarely will Courts allow for a lease to remove the need for notice entirely.

In Illinois, when the lease is silent on the method for delivery of notice, the law strictly requires one of the following methods of service for a valid notice. 735 ILCS 5/9-211

  1. Hand delivering a written or printed notice directly to the tenant.
  2. Delivering the notice to a person at least 13 years old, residing on or in possession of the premises.
  3. Sending a copy of the notice to the tenant by certified or registered mail, with a returned receipt from the addressee.

A key mistake that many landlords make is believing that they can leave the notice posted on the front door and that will be sufficient. This is a mistake that often forces the dismissal of eviction cases and forces landlord to restart the whole process and incur higher court fees.

In addition to serving notice in the proper manner, it is equally as important to serve notice with a proper amount of time. Many landlords feel they can just deliver a 5-day notice to their tenant regardless of the reason for the eviction. This is not so.

Unless the signed lease prescribes 5-day notices for any violation, Illinois rules state that 5-day notices are only to be used for nonpayment of rent 735 ILCS 5/9-209. Other violations of the lease such as failure to maintain the property or repeated noise complaints often require a 10-day notice to the tenant 735 ILCS 5/9-210.

Finally, one of the most confusing aspects of notice delivery is when to deliver notice to a month-to-month tenant. Many landlords believe that all they must do is deliver a notice before the next month that says they no longer wish to continue with the tenancy. While it is true that the reason for the termination can be as simple as the landlord no longer wishes to rent to the tenant, the timing of the notice is extremely important. Notices to month-to-month tenants require a 30-day notice be given BEFORE the next rental period begins in order to terminate the tenancy. That means for example if your rental period begins on the 1st of each month and you wish to terminate your tenant’s tenancy in the month of July, you would need to serve them by June 1st and not a day later for the notice to be proper. 735 ILCS 5/9-207. If you failed to serve them before that date, you would need to wait until the following rental period to terminate the tenancy meaning the termination would not be official until August 1st.

If you need assistance with an eviction, the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. can help you. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your eviction matter. Our office employs a trusted process server to assist with delivery of all kinds of notices and summons.

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