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The Statuses of Evictions in Chicago & Illinois During Phase 4 of "Reopen Illinois"

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As the State of Illinois continues to reopen after nearly a three-month shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions are being asked regarding potential protections available to renters who have faced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Both Illinois and the City of Chicago have proposed guidelines to tenants that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Sherwood Law Group is available to answer questions pertaining to any and all landlord tenant matters, both commercial and residential. Contact us at 312.627.1650 or info@sherwoodlawgroup.com.

At the beginning of Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home ordinance in mid-March, he placed a moratorium on evictions, intended to grant tenants the additional time they needed to pay rent. However, in the months that have followed, the pandemic has continued and financial hardships for many renters have continued to get worse. In response to the hardships currently being faced by landlords and tenants alike, Illinois legislator Delia Ramirez has presented her fellow legislators with a financial relief package aimed at supporting landlords and tenants who have found themselves in financial turmoil in the wake of the global pandemic. The bill, called the Covid-19 Emergency and Economic Recovery Renter and Homeowner Protection Act   (the “Act”), would cancel tenant rent debt and compensate landlords for canceled payments, while also suspending mortgage payments, among other protections, discussed further below.

If signed into law by Governor Pritzker, the Act would provide several protections for tenants, including cancellation of rent for those diagnosed with COVID-19, preventing landlords from penalizing residents behind on rent, and also prohibit landlords from reporting tenants to consumer reporting agencies. The Act would also protect landlords who have lost out on rental payments due to the pandemic by compensating them for lost or canceled rent payments and by suspending mortgage payments for coronavirus-impacted landlords. Other parts of the Act that would help landlords and tenants alike include providing a 180-day forbearance on taxes, insurance and fees, placing a moratorium on foreclosures, preventing new eviction filings in court, and allowing tenants additional time to pay back late rent even after the existing moratorium expires. The Act would be in effect until the State’s unemployment rate returns to its pre-pandemic levels and the Governor’s disaster declaration has expired. However, until Governor Pritzker’s issued state of emergency expires, a moratorium on evictions will remain in place. Currently the Illinois state of emergency has been extended until July 31, 2020.

As for the City of Chicago, Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, proposed a moratorium on the eviction of tenants due to the financial hardships related to the pandemic. The plan would ultimately prohibit landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on rent without first waiting five (5) full days for the tenant to deliver a “Notice of COVID-19 Impact” which outlines the tenants job termination, reduced hours or other extenuating financial circumstances. By presenting their landlord with a “Notice of COVID-19 impact” landlords would be prohibited from evicting those tenants without first trying to negotiate with them under a plan proposed by the Mayor. During that time, if the landlord receives from the tenant a Notice of COVID-19 Impact, the landlord must wait an additional seven (7) days, which would be considered a negotiation period, before filing either an eviction action against the tenant or maintaining an joint action for possession and rent. The negotiation period can include the accepting of a repayment plan, submitting the matter to mediation or binding arbitration, applying the tenant’s security deposit toward the unpaid rent, or providing the tenant with an opportunity to move out. If no agreement is reached and the landlord initiates eviction proceedings, the landlord would then have to prove to the court that “reasonable attempts” were made to negotiate with the struggling tenant.

Most recently, on April 23, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order discouraging all evictions during the stay-at-home shutdown triggered by the pandemic. Mayor Lightfoot’s proposed eviction moratorium would remain in place for sixty (60) days after the expiration of the Governor’s executive order. Throughout the re-opening of both Illinois and the City of Chicago, attorneys at Sherwood Law Group are available to answer all questions or inquiries you may have about all COVID-19 related matters at 312.627.1650 or info@sherwoodlawgroup.com.

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