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Rent Payment: What Happens When the Tenant Didn't Pay their Rent On Time?

Managing rental properties is challenging and exciting at the same time. You get to build connections with people, not just your tenants, but also your team; and the contractors you work with to maintain the properties. However, managing multiple rental properties is not always smooth sailing.

The reality of it is that you can never do away with late rent payments. Landlords will always have to face situations where tenants will miss paying their rent for some personal reasons. It can be due to some employment issues like delayed salary or unemployment, or some unexpected circumstances where they have to use the money they saved for the house rent just to cover up on the expenses. Regardless of the reasons the tenants will have, their responsibility and obligation of paying the rent on time must be on top of the list.

In the city of Chicago, there are certain conditions associated with rent payments. And as a realtor, an investor, and a property owner who manages multiple rental properties, I always ensure that I have a solid knowledge of the rental process. In case my tenants missed their rent payment, actions taken are according to the legal conditions and procedure of the state where the property is located (as I have properties outside Chicago, too).

For missed rent, as the landlord, I have the right to evict my tenant if payment is not paid as due. Rent payments are due every 1st of the month (or depending on the rental agreement). If payments are not received on the 1st, tenants will receive late notices giving them five (5) days to settle. If the tenant still didn't pay their rent until the 5th, the landlord can start an eviction lawsuit. To further understand how the process goes, here is a detailed explanation of the procedures according to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, specifically 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-209.

Rent Due Date in Illinois

As mentioned above, rent is typically due on the first of the month including holidays and weekends. Unless otherwise, a rental agreement is made between the landlord and the tenant. Some landlords will allow tenants to pay their rent (if the due date falls on a holiday or a weekend) the following business day.

Eviction Notices' Time Frame in Illinois

Missed rent payments from the due date will automatically subject the tenants to an eviction notice, late notice, or notice to pay rent or quit. The day after the due date, tenants will receive the notice. They have five (5) days to fulfill the rent. Failure to do so will allow the landlord to begin the eviction process. Although technically, the landlord already started the eviction process in such time that the tenant fails to pay the rent on time. This 5-day time frame includes holidays and weekends (see 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-209).

What should be written on the notice/s for nonpayment of rent?

Written notices must follow the Illinois Eviction Notices conditions for nonpayment of rent. This information must include the following:

  • the notice date

  • tenant's name and the rental property address

  • the notice's reason with a specified period the tenant missed paying the rent

  • the notice must specify that the tenant will only have 5 days to pay for the rent and the charges or else the landlord will be forced to take any legal action following the lease agreement and state law. This includes but is not limited to termination of the lease, eviction, and any resultant damages including costs, disbursements, and attorney’s fees associated with any related action in this regard

  • the rent past due amount including late fees and other charges if there are any

Additionally, the landlord must highlight in the notice that partial payments are not accepted during these 5 days. Failure to reiterate such will allow the tenant to pay only a portion of what's due. Thus, prolonging the process until the landlord would not be able to file an eviction lawsuit.

How to serve an eviction lawsuit?

According to 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-211, landlords have three options to file an eviction lawsuit. It can be one of the following:

  • The notice can be handed personally by the landlord or the landlord's agent to any of the family members at least 13 years old, living in the rental property together with the tenant;

  • The notice can be mailed; or

  • If the landlord fails to hand the notice directly to the tenant, he can post it at the rental unit.

The landlord must ensure that the notice was served properly. If not, eviction will not take place and, the landlord will have to re-start the process and create a new notice. Likewise, the landlord must confirm receipt of the notice with the tenant to proceed transparently.

What if a tenant responds to the notice? How will it affect the process?

There are options that a tenant may consider when responding to the eviction notices. These actions have a corresponding effect on the process. Here are the several options:

  • If the tenant pays the rent including late fees or other charges (if any), the eviction notice will be dismissed. However, if the tenant fails to comply within the 5-day time frame, a new eviction notice will be served against them;

  • If the tenant moves out of the property without paying the rent, the landlord may use the security deposit to cover the unpaid rent. If the security deposit does not cover all the costs from the rent to late fees, the landlord can sue the tenant for what was owed in the property;

  • If the tenant does not move out of the unit and still does not pay the rent, the landlord can file a forcible entry and detainer suit against the tenant to take possession of the property.

How can a landlord file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant?

In Illinois, landlords can file an eviction lawsuit in the county from which the property is located. Landlords must follow all the legal procedures when filing the eviction complaints and summons. Landlords must not do anything against the procedures like shutting off the utilities, changing the locks, or any unwanted practices just to evict the tenant. All actions must be in accordance with the eviction lawsuits' procedures and conditions of the state.


Despite having multiple rental properties and managing them all at once, as a landlord, securing the property is one of my priorities. Part of it is looking after your ROI. It's not just about getting someone on your property. I remember talking about getting a tenant on one of my videos (How to Manage Multiple Rental Properties?), I explained how I qualify tenants. And I am taking the process seriously.

I make sure to check the background, credit score, income, even the eviction history if there would be any. I don't just get one to fill up the space. I don't mind waiting for a couple of days to get a tenant as long as I'm getting the right one. Securing the property is not just about how you maintain its condition, you secure your property by getting the right people. These people are the ones who are capable of paying their rent on time. And getting a tenant is like hiring people for your business, you don't simply create connections. You build long term relationships.

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