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Can we lock out a tenant who is in default for non-payment on a commercial lease?

Chicago, IL |
Filed under: Landlord-tenant

We have a tenant who is 2 mos behind. We've given them every opportunity to pay their rent. Can we lock them out for non-payment?

Attorney Answers 3


A landlord cannot lock out or remove a tenant without a court order. A landlord must bring a forcible entry and detainer suit in order to end the tenant’s right to possession of a commercial property.

Even if the lease has a provision that states the landlord can lock out a tenant. You still have to go into court and get a court order the landlord must have a court order before they can lock out or take away possession of the commercial space from the tenant.

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Dear Landlord: Illinois does not allow self help. You must serve the Tenant with a Notice of Termination of Right of Possession or a Notice of Termination or a Notice to Quit so that the court can obtain jurisdiction. If after proper service of one of these Notices, the Tenant still does not comply, then you must file an eviction action and serve the Tenant with a Summons and Complaint.

This process is very technical and I recommend that you retain competent counsel who is familiar with the law and the court system in Cook County to handle the matter for you. Otherwise you risk further delay.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The post is only an opinion. You should speak to an attorney for further information. The poster is licensed only in IL. Please visit for more information about our services. If this post is useful to you, please remember to vote it up. Thank you.

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Do not lock out the tenant. If you do, you may find yourself as a defendant in a wrongful eviction lawsuit. File a Notice of Termination and follow the legal path.

Good Luck.

Jeffrey Whitcomb
Whitcomb Law Firm, Ltd.

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