Eviction Moratorium in Illinois Continues through December 12, 2020
In an expected move, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker once again extended the state’s eviction ban for another 30 days on November 13, 2020. The revised executive order 2020-72 defines new financial conditions for individuals covered under the eviction ban. Renters who earn less than $99,000 — or $198,000 in combined household income — are protected under the revised ban on residential evictions. The original eviction ban, issued in March 2020, applied to all renters regardless of income.
When Will Evictions Resume in Illinois?
The Illinois eviction moratorium prohibits the filing of residential eviction actions and the enforcement of residential evictions until December 12, 2020. Previous executive orders related to the filing of evictions in Illinois, such as Executive Order 2020-55, also clarified that nothing in the moratorium shall be construed to relieve renters of their obligations to make rent payments or otherwise comply with their leases.
It also clarifies that it does not extend to circumstances where “the tenant has been found to pose a direct threat to the health and safety of other tenants, an immediate and severe risk to property, or a violation of any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation.” In other words, the temporary eviction ban is designed to protect only those tenants who would be evicted due to nonpayment of rent, as opposed to other lease violations. Some landlords grumble that the eviction moratorium is encouraging renters to skip their rent payments -- but nothing in the moratorium forgives a tenant's obligation to pay the rent. It merely provides renters with stable housing until the moratorium elapses.
Governor Pritzker extended the eviction moratorium in August following Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s August 20, 2020 letter to Chief Judge Evans and the Governor’s administration urging COVID-19 relief for renters and landlords alike. Sheriff Dart noted that approximately 250,000 households in Cook County could face evictions. As the Sheriff is charged with enforcing legal eviction orders, Dart shared a concern about the likely spread of COVID-19 if evicted renters were crowded into shelters or into the homes of family and friends.
The Trump administration has also framed the eviction crisis as a likely accelerator of the spread of the novel Coronavirus. On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control issued a temporary eviction moratorium through the end of the calendar year with sweeping protections for certain renters nationwide. Unlike the CARES Act, which provided a temporary moratorium only for those properties secured by mortgages backed by the federal government (including mortgages held by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae), the CDC’s order purports to extend to all residential properties (regardless of whether they are secured by federally backed mortgages) that are occupied by renters who meet certain income thresholds, have applied for government assistance, have lost income due to the pandemic, and would be rendered homeless if evicted. Renters must sign a declaration in order to qualify for the relief. The declaration is included as “Attachment A” to the CDC’s order, and it clarifies that the tenant's obligation to pay rent is not modified or superceded by the eviction ban. The CDC order does not apply to jurisdictions like Illinois that have in place a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than the CDC’s Order -- but if Governor Pritzker decides not to renew the Illinois moratorium after it elapses in mid-November, the CDC's moratorium will provide a further stopgap for qualifiying Illinois tenants through the end of the year.
Landlord rights groups have already begun to challenge the constitutionality of the CDC’s order. The New Civil Liberties Alliance filed a motion for a preliminary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to challenge the CDC's eviction moratorium as an unconstitutional taking of property rights. The court heard argument on the motion on October 20, 2020.
Eviction Moratorium Chicago Protection Ordinance Provides Additional Protections to Renters
Chicago City Council approved a COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance in its mid-June legislative session. This new ordinance requires that landlords extend a seven-day "cooling off" period if tenants respond to the five-day notice with a Tenant Notice and can prove unpaid rent stems from financial losses that are caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Ordinance clearly intends to prevent conditions leading to a loss of shelter, even as it protects landlords by requiring tenants to pay rent and providing exceptions to the general rule. For example, landlords may file eviction proceedings if “a tenant poses a direct threat to the health and safety of other tenants, an immediate and severe risk to property, or a violation of any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation.”
In case landlords are thinking about performing a DIY eviction, here’s the deal: don’t do it. Lockouts are illegal in Chicago apartments. Chicago’s landlord-tenant law also heavily favors tenants in cases of retaliatory conduct. Landlords may end up in legal trouble if they even hint that they’re willing to circumvent the eviction legal process and eviction moratorium. Expensive fines and legal fees await landlords who attempt to perform self-help evictions in Chicago.
Disclaimer: Domu isn’t a law firm and this page does not offer legal advice to you or anyone.