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Kevin O'Flaherty

Landlords and tenants often wonder: can you evict someone if there is no lease? The answer is yes, you can legally evict a tenant even without a written lease agreement, but the process must comply with state-specific eviction laws. In Illinois, for example, landlords are required to follow a set of legal protocols to carry out an eviction lawfully. This article will navigate you through the key steps involved in the eviction process without a lease in Illinois, providing clarity on your rights and responsibilities.

Key Takeaways

  • In Illinois, tenants without a written lease have legal protections, and landlords must provide justified reasons for evictions, like non-payment of rent.
  • Landlords must give proper notice, document violations carefully, and follow legal procedures to file an eviction lawsuit to avoid complications.
  • Self-help evictions are illegal in Illinois; landlords must adhere to the legal eviction process, and tenants can challenge evictions and seek legal help, emphasizing the importance of understanding rights and responsibilities.

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 kinds of notices that 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 and 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.

Our team is ready address your legal needs remotely OR at one of our many physical locations, including our Aurora attorneys located at:
O’Flaherty Law of Aurora
501 S. Elmwood Dr., Aurora, IL 60506
(331) 684-1470

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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