The first step in the eviction process is a termination notice which specifies the reason the landlord wants the tenant to move out. Some common reasons include non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or the end of a lease. If the tenant cannot pay the rent, fix (cure) the violation, or move out by the date specified in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction. The tenant is then served with a summons and complaint, and the action proceeds to trial. 

Eviction cases are decided either by the court or by agreement between the tenant and landlord. A trial can end in a number ways.  If the case ends with a judge entering an eviction order, the tenant is informed of the date by which to move. Eviction orders are often postponed (stayed) for a few days to give the tenant a short amount of time to move. If the tenant does not move out in time, the landlord can have the sheriff remove the tenant. If the case is dismissed (often by agreement), the eviction lawsuit is terminated. When a case is dismissed, the tenant may be entitled to stay or may still be required to move depending on the agreement.

For a more detailed description of the eviction process, read our Renters' Guide to Eviction Court.


The court system remains a system that was designed by lawyers with the expectation that there would be lawyers. Most people don’t have representation and yet it’s still a system that very much contemplates that they will.
Martha Bergmark, Voices for Civil Justice