At Chi City Legal we meet many of our clients while they’re already going through the court process. When it comes to evictions, time is money, and making the slightest mistake can waste weeks. Here’s a roundup of our biggest time wasters:
- Serving a Bad Notice or No Notice at All: While you are probably anxious to get the process rolling, it is important to take a minute to make sure the notice you are serving is compliant with Illinois Law. Without the proper language, your notice may be seen as defective and could result in a dismissal of your case. Additionally, some landlords think just telling or texting the tenant is enough, however you have to give a proper written notice prior to filing an eviction matter. The best option is to have an attorney review or prepare your notice prior to serving the tenant. This way you can be sure you will not have to start over before filing, or worse yet, after a Judge dismisses your case because of a defective notice weeks or even months after you started the process.
- Posting a Notice: Many landlords come in to our office with good notice, and then reveal that they posted the notice at the property. In most circumstances, posting a notice is only allowed where the landlord believes the property is abandoned. We always recommend personal service wherever possible. In some instances landlords want to move forward with serving by certified mail, which is allowable under Illinois Law, just remember, some tenants do not pick up their certified mail and again you may be losing valuable time without rental income at the property.
- Failing to Check Service Before Court: Many Pro Se landlords show up to court not knowing if their tenant has been served. Even if they do know the tenant has not been served, they aren’t quite sure where to go next. Always check the clerk and sheriff’s website prior to your first court date. If you see the tenant has not been served, find a special process server and bring that information with you to court. That way you can fill out the appropriate paper work at court and keep the process moving. Too many times pro se landlords do not have that information and leave court frustrated the tenant was not served and do nothing. This means you’ll have to get a new court date just to appoint the server. While it may only add a couple weeks, for most landlords, every day matters, so being prepared can make all the difference.
- Failing to Bring Necessary Documents to Court: While most landlords know they need to bring their notice to court, it is also important to have your proof of service. If you served the notice on the tenant, then your testimony will be enough. However, if you had someone else serve the notice, make sure they are also available to testify. If they do not want to come to court, make sure you have them fill out an affidavit of service and have them sign it in front of a notary. Then bring that affidavit to court to show the Judge. Failure to bring this will at best result in you having to continue the case a week to bring in the proper proof that the notice was served. At worst, the Judge may dismiss your case if he does not learn you have the proper documents until during the trial. In which case you’d have to start over losing at least 2 weeks.
- Improperly Drafting an Order for Possession: So you’ve won your case and the judge has awarded you possession. Now they’ve passed you a form to fill out. Make sure you take time to fill out the order for possession accurately. The court should have an example you can use to guide you to put the correct information on the proper lines. Additionally, if you should you make any mistake and have to cross something out, make sure you ask the Judge to initial that mistake. Any mistake on your order will allow the Sheriff to reject your order for possession. If that happens, you’ll need to motion the court to make any corrections to the order. Taking care in filling it out from the start will make the process go smoothly, or as smoothly as it can with the Sheriff’s office and save you a headache on the back end of the process, and having to go back to court to meet the Sheriff’s requirements on the Order.