Illinois & Chicago Law Protects Tenants From "Self-Help"
Illinois or Chicago Landlords cannot simply evict someone from their dwelling units whether it be a single family home, a condo, a coach-house, a renter that has not paid rent, a renter that has violated the lease or law, or a family member. This is called unlawful "self-help" by Landlords. Below, I have summarized the relevant case law regarding unlawful evictions or illegal lock outs in the State of Illinois, including Chicago, and I hope this brings ease to Tenants facing irrational and sometimes violent Landlords who think they are above the law. If you are facing any threats about unlawful eviction, please Contact Us immediately.
The purposed of the Illinois Forcible Entry Statute is "to prevent breaches of the peace caused by the common law method of regaining possession of property through self-help." Yale Tavern, Inc. v. Cosmopolitan National Bank, 259 Ill.App.3d 965, 971 632 N.E.2d 80 (1st Dist. 1994). "The statute prohibits any actual or constructive self-help through force, including changing locks or locking someone out of his land." Yale Tavern Inc., 259 Ill.App.3d at 97.
Section 735 ILCS 5/9-101 states that "No person shall make an entry into lands or tenements except in cases where entry is allowed by law and in such cases he or she shall not enter with force, but in a peaceable manner."
"Where a demand for possession is made, the demand alone does not permit a party to enter and regain possession of the property through self-help." Fortech, LLC v. R.W. Dunteman Co., Inc., 366 Ill.App.3d 804, 814, 852 N.E.2d 451 (1st Dist. 2006).
After a proper demand (i.e. a 5, 10, or 30 Day Notice) is served on the Tenant, Section 735 ILCS 5/9-106 provides the legal procedure for obtaining possession of the unit.
In Chicago, RLTO Section 5-12-160 governs the rights and remedies when illegal evictions or other "interruptions" of tenant occupation occur. The following is the exact law from the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.
"It is unlawful for any landlord or any person acting at his direction knowingly to oust or dispossess or threaten or attempt to oust or dispossess any tenant from a dwelling unit without authority of law, by plugging, changing, adding or removing any lock or latching device; or by blocking any entrance into said unit; or by removing any door or window from said unit; or by interfering with the services to said unit; including but not limited to electricity, gas, hot or cold water, plumbing, heat or telephone service; or by removing a tenant’s personal property from said unit; or by the removal or incapacitating of appliances or fixtures, except for the purpose of making necessary repairs; or by the use or threat of force, violence or injury to a tenant’s person or property; or by any act rendering a dwelling unit or any part thereof or any personal property located therein inaccessible or uninhabitable. The foregoing shall not apply where:
(a) A landlord acts in compliance with the laws of Illinois pertaining to forcible entry and detainer and engages the sheriff of Cook County to forcibly evict a tenant or his personal property; or (b) A landlord acts in compliance with the laws of Illinois pertaining to distress for rent; or (c) A landlord interferes temporarily with possession only as necessary to make needed repairs or inspection and only as provided by law; or (d) The tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit, as defined in Section 5-12-130(e).
Whenever a complaint of violation of this provision is received by the Chicago Police Department, the department shall investigate and determine whether a violation has occurred. Any person found guilty of violating this section shall be fined not less then $200.00 nor more than $500.00, and each day that such violation shall occur or continue shall constitute a separate and distinct offense for which a fine as herein provided shall be imposed. If a tenant in a civil legal proceeding against his landlord establishes that a violation of this section has occurred he shall be entitled to recover possession of his dwelling unit or personal property and shall recover an amount equal to not more than two months’ rent or twice the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater. A tenant may pursue any civil remedy for violation of this section regardless of whether a fine has been entered against the landlord pursuant to this section."