Can You Evict Someone if There is No Lease? | Illinois Landlord-Tenant Law

Can You Evict Someone if There is No Lease? | Illinois Landlord-Tenant Law

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article we will Illinois explain evictions when there is no lease.  We will answer the question, “what is a lease?”  We will explain the Illinois eviction process as well as evicting without a lease.  

What is a Lease?

A lease is a legal agreement that the landlord and the tenant enter into regarding payments, obligations and responsibilities of both parties. When any part of the lease is broken by the tenant, there can be legal consequences, just like any other contract. A lease protects the tenant from having any changes in rent or other circumstances while living in the property, and also protects the landlord from having the tenant leave the property unexpectedly.   Leases are typically set for a specific amount of time, but a lease can also be month to month.

Another type of landlord-tenant agreement is known as a rental agreement. A rental agreement is very similar to a lease, but it is typically on a monthly basis. In this agreement, the terms may be altered or changed at the end of 30 days, or the tenant can simply decide to move out. With a rental agreement, the tenant and the landlord can both experience the freedom of having a shorter amount of time during which the landlord must lease to the tenant and the tenant must keep paying rent.  In a rental agreement, at the end of the 30 days, the landlord can alter the rent or even ask the renter to leave the property.

The Eviction Process

Reasons for a landlord to evict a tenant include:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Damaging the property
  • Refusal to move out once the lease has expired
  • Failure to abide by any of the agreements laid out in the lease

The first step to evicting a tenant is to provide the tenant with a proper eviction notice, which typically gives a deadline to comply with the lease and lists how much the renter owes.

In Illinois, there are three different kind of notices which may be posted: 5-day, 10-day and 30-day. A 5-day notice may only be used for situations in which the renter has not paid rent; they will have 5 days during which they can pay the rent or evacuate. A 10-day notice may be used for tenants who violate part of the lease, such as by having pets; they will have 10 days to leave the property. A 30-day notice can be used to terminate a monthly lease, without any specific reason.

Once the notice is created, it must be delivered to the tenant either by hand, certified mail, or posted to the door of a property that seems unlived in. Next, an affidavit must be obtained from the local court and completed. In some cases, the landlord and tenant may have to go to court, such as if a tenant does not evacuate within the given time or wishes to dispute the eviction decision.

Evicting Without a Lease

A landlord may evict a renter who does not have a lease and instead has a renter’s agreement, as long as they give the tenant at least a 30-day notice. There is no reasoning required for a landlord to end this type of agreement. “At will” tenants, or those who live in a unit without a lease do not automatically receive protection from evictions or other landlord actions. However, when this type of tenant pays the landlord rent, they earn rights. Among the rights earned by the “at will” tenant are that the normal eviction process must be followed in order to evict the tenant.

If a landlord plans to evict an “at will” tenant, they must provide the tenant with the proper notice, as outlined above. This can mean that the tenant has anywhere between 5-30 days to vacate the property. Landlords must keep in mind that actions such as shutting off utilities, changing the locks or forcing renters to leave without proper notice are not legal and can result in action against the landlord.

Another consideration that the landlord must keep in mind for “at will” tenants is that since there is no lease, there are no specific lease agreements, such as housing pets, that the tenant can violate. Therefore, someone can generally only be evicted without a lease for failure to pay rent, serious damage caused to the property, disturbing neighbors consistently or health hazards on the property.

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What is a Lease?

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