Many landlords waver at the decision to evict. That’s natural. To most landlords, evictions are scary. Worse yet, Illinois evictions are expensive, uncertain, and take lots of time. Luckily, the vast majority of landlords have never even had to go through an eviction!
So, in weighing their options, landlords will consider whether or not it is worthwhile to evict that tenant who is behind three months rent or just “wait it out until the lease term ends in two months”. Wait, what? Yes, that’s right. Let’s dissect that reasoning. A tenant has two months left on a lease. The tenant hasn’t paid rent in about three months. That’s when they call their friendly neighborhood landlord-tenant attorney to discuss an eviction. When that attorney is me, the landlord gets to hear a story about the procedure, timing, and costs involved in evicting a tenant. I’m have to say, my dissertation usually doesn’t get a landlord too excited about doing an eviction. That’s when the landlord’s mind starts looking for alternatives.
The most common alternative the landlord comes up with is to “wait it out”. The landlord will suggest to me that “there’s less than 60 days left on the lease, so maybe I’ll just wait for the tenant to leave.” That’s when I have to deliver some bad news: the tenant is not leaving at the end of the lease. I wish they would, believe me, but they probably won’t. Do you know what tenant’s love? Living somewhere for free. When a landlord allows a tenant to live somewhere for free for a long time, the renter tends to get used to it. They do not look at their lease – you know, that piece of paper they’ve been ignoring that says they need to pay rent – and say “oh, the term is ending, I think I’ll start packing my things.”
To add insult to injury, procedurally, it is not materially easier to evict a tenant at the end of a lease than it is to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent. In Chicago, the landlord might even need to serve a special notice before an eviction lawsuit can begin. The timing of an eviction at the end of the lease will likely be similar to a nonpayment case as well.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t wait. Act. All of us are predisposed to bury our heads in the sand while we hope our problem clear up. My own experience in the world of landlord-tenant law says that problems don’t go away easily. Does that mean a forcible entry and detainer case has to be filed under the Illinois eviction laws? No. Landlords can explore other possibilities with a tenant. Cash for keys or some other settlement offer can be an effective way to be rid of a tenant with less uncertainty.
What’s the one wrong move? Stand back and hope. Don’t hold your breath. The right move is to act. Of course, before acting, always consult with an attorney!