A landlord has served a tenant with a five day notice. The tenant failed to pay and the landlord is ready to take the “next step” in the eviction process. So, where should a landlord file a Cook County forcible entry and detainer case? The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer statute (735 ILCS 5/9-106) says that
On complaint by the party or parties entitled to the possession of such premises being filed in the circuit court for the county where such premises are situated, stating that such party is entitled to the possession of such premises (describing the same with reasonable certainty), and that the defendant (naming the defendant) unlawfully withholds the possession thereof from him, her or them, the clerk of the court shall issue a summons.
That means that the Cook County landlord should file in Cook County! Well, that doesn’t get us anywhere! There are a number of courthouses in Cook County. In fact, Cook County is divided into six different judicial “districts”. So, the question still stands. Where does the landlord file? There are six possible courthouses a landlord can choose – Downtown, Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Markham, and Bridgeview.
Which one is the right one for the landlord? We look to the local rules for the answer. In the Circuit Court’s General Order 1.2,2.3, sections d(1) and d(2) provide:
(d) Place of Filing-Civil Proceedings. Civil Actions in the Municipal Department are filed in:
(1) The district of residence of any defendant who is joined in good faith and with probable cause for the purpose of obtaining a judgment against the defendant and not solely for the purpose of permitting a filing in that district, or;
(2) The district in which the transaction or some part thereof occurred out of which the cause of action arose. Actions of attachment, distress for rent, forcible entry and detainer, and for the recovery of property may be filed in the district where the property is located.
Now we are getting somewhere. The rule provides that landlords should file in the district of residence of the defendant or, in the case of an eviction, where the property is located. So, if the landlord’s rental property is located in Evanston, the case should be filed in the second district. If the landlord’s rental property is located in Chicago, the case should be filed in the first district.