Chicago evicition tenant cannot be found

5 Replies


I just bought a two flat and I am having trouble locating one of the tenants. This tenant is on a month to month lease and only wants to communicate by phone or email. They haven't paid for the garden unit for a couple of months and it is rubbished, with clothes thrown around and a fridge full of rotting food. Worse, they have a broken (but newer model) car sitting smack dab in the middle of the two car garage. I went to the Cook County office that handles evictions and they told me if I cannot locate the tenant to physically give them a 5 day quit/pay notice or a 30 day notice, I cannot do anything. 

I am thinking about offering them cash for keys, $200 if they get their junk and car out this weekend, and if not I will start the eviction proceedings. I will then mention that it looks like someone tried force open the garage door so I had to change the locks (tenant has keys to garage) and so when he is ready to get his car to let me know and I will open up the garage. Someone seems to have disabled the garage door opener as well, which I can easily fix once I have signed documents stating his intent.

I know Chicago/Illinois is renter friendly, but (of course I won't take it as strict legal advice) what do you think about my course of action above? Thanks in advance, I am happy to be a landlord!

I hate cash for keys. Your tenant is bad and rewarding them won't make them good. You not only reward them for their bad behavior and encourage more of it, you're also pushing them on to the next Landlord where they will continue behaving badly.

Hold them accountable. In most cases, starting the eviction process will be motivation for them to pack up and leave. If they refuse, suck it up and go through the painful process of eviction so it's on their record, you get a judgment and (maybe) get some money back, and both you and the tenant learn some valuable lessons so this doesn't happen again in the future.

This will teach you a valuable lesson that (hopefully) will encourage you to be more vigilant in screening and lease enforcement instead of letting problems get so bad that you have to evict.

I don't know but  suspect changing the locks on the garage will just get you another broken lock.  If you have given non-renewal notice then pay or quit and eviction is probably your best option. A good lawyer will know how to get a difficult tenant legally served.  

Is he actually communicating at all? Is the place perhaps abandoned? 

I wouldn't do cash for keys since they are m2m. You will probably be losing the rent they owe you and that's already enough out of your pocket. Seems like the priority is to get them out, and fast. First let your attorney know of the situation in the event of an eviction. Tell the tenant you are not renewing their lease and give them the 30 days the city requires. If they fail to leave, start the eviction process right away. 

@Nathan G,

The tenants were inherited, as I mentioned I just bought the two flat. I got lucky though, they kept their agreement to move out on May 4th, despite having disappeared prior. They took the car out of the garage too. I agree that cash for keys is not ideal but (had they not shown up) it would be have been the far lessor of several evils. 

@Scott Mac

Thanks for the movie quote, not sure what the purpose of your post is though.

@Colleen F.

He came and cleaned out his stuff and took his car out of the garage. He was communicating by phone and email but refused to meet with me; I am guessing he knew I wanted to serve him with a notice. I am not an "all's well that ends well" person generally, but I am glad to have him out.  Changing the locks was a grasp at straws kind of thing, again I am glad it didn't come to that!

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