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How to Prepare for Eviction Court

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Know your rights: The ONLY legal way to evict a tenant is through the court. Your landlord cannot make you move by changing the locks, throwing your personal property on the lawn, turning off your water, etc. You have the right to legal representation, at your cost, or receive assistance from a Prairie State Legal Services attorney for free if you qualify for their services. On Thursdays, an attorney from Prairie State Legal Services will be at the Law and Justice Center to assist people being evicted on a first come first serve basis. You have the right to a trial by jury You have the right to present evidence You have the right to call your own witnesses. If you have witnesses it is your responsibility to make sure they come to court on time You have the right to ask questions Different notices: If you are being evicted for nonpayment of rent you will receive a 5 day notice and have 5 days to pay in full or be evicted If you are being evicted because of a violation of your lease, you will receive a 10 day notice If you do not have a written lease or your lease is month-to-month, you will receive a 30 day notice The timeline for your eviction should look something like this: You’re given a written lease termination notice; Try to correct the lease violation (like paying the rent, fixing the damage to the apartment, removing a pet, etc.) during the notice period; If you don’t correct the problem an eviction case is filed against you in court; You will be served by either the sheriff or a special process server; You will go to court, or if you don’t show up the judge with sign an order evicting you *VERY IMPORTANT* if you do not show up for court, a judgment will automatically be entered against you!; At your first court date you can ask for a trial, which will occur at a later date. If you don’t ask for a trial, a judgement will (or will not) be entered against you on your first court date; The sheriff will carry out the judge's eviction order if you don’t move before your allotted time runs out. What to bring: A copy of your lease and any documents you have received regarding your eviction Receipts of your rental payments Copies of any written documentation (emails, texts, notes, etc) from your landlord regarding your rent or damages. (example: if your landlord texted you that it was okay to pay your rent late, bring a paper copy of that text) Receipts of repairs you made that your landlord was supposed to fix Photographs of unsafe conditions or rodents/pests Wear nice clothing and bring a pen and paper to take notes The eviction paperwork you received will tell you where to go When you get there, check in outside of the courtroom Arrive early! Especially if you want to try and talk to the volunteer attorney who can help you before you see the judge You will have to go through security and a metal detector when you first enter the Law and Justice Center. This may take extra time if there is a line. Don’t bring unnecessary items that will cause issues with security. If you need childcare, ask where this is located. This is a free service, and as a courtesy to the judge, attorneys, and others around you, you should use it. Keep your composure. This can be an emotional time, but you need to remain professional with everyone you are talking to. If you have the money to pay your landlord in full, bring it or be able to access it the day you go to court. Do not agree to anything you don’t understand or know you will not be able to complete. Ask questions! You may be eligible for the small claims mediation program if you and the landlord are pro se Know the consequences of eviction It will affect your credit for 10 years You will be forced to find a new place to live in less than 2 weeks Landlords will not want to rent to you with an eviction on your record It will be expensive, and cost you money for a long time if the court finds the basis to evict you. There might also be a money judgment entered against you for all past due amounts owed, court costs, and attorneys’ fees. https://

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