An Unlawful Detainer lawsuit is a suit brought
by a landlord to obtain possession of the rented property and receive payment of back rent. In order to legally evict a tenant (remove and lock the tenant out of the property), the landlord must file an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit.
If you are served with an Unlawful Detainer complaint, the complaint will show the court location where you should file your answer. You have five days to respond in writing to the landlord’s complaint, read more here. After you have filed your written answer to the landlord’s complaint in the clerk’s office and an At Issue Memorandum is filed by the plaintiff, you will both be notified by mail of the time and place of trial. There is a filing fee when you file your written answer. However, it is possible to obtain a waiver of the fee if you cannot afford to pay. In order to obtain a fee waiver, you must file an Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs at the time you file your answer. The Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs form may be obtained from the Clerk’s Office.
If the case goes to trial and the landlord wins the Unlawful Detainer lawsuit, the court will issue a judgment for possession. To enforce the judgment, the landlord will then obtain a Writ of Possession that directs the Sheriff to enforce the judgment for possession of the property. This legal document authorizes the Sheriff to physically remove and lock you out of the property. The Sheriff’s cost from the eviction may be added to the judgment, which the landlord can collect from you.
The Sheriff will serve you with a Notice to Vacate the property before enforcing the Writ of Possession. After the Sheriff serves the notice, you have five days to move. If you fail to move within the five days, the Sheriff will physically remove you and turn over the possession of the property to the landlord.