On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the Chicago City Council adopted Mayor Lightfoot’s new ordinance on evictions. The COVID-19 Eviction Protection ordinance (the “Ordinance”) will be in effect for 60 days after Illinois Governor Pritzker’s eviction prohibition expires.
Since Governor Pritzker recently announced that he is extending his eviction ban until July 31, 2020 the following requirements will be in effect for properties in the City of Chicago until at least September 30, 2020.
- 5 Day Notice Requirements: Once the Governor’s ban is lifted, Landlords in the City of Chicago can serve a 5 day notice for non-payment of rent. However, each notice must include a written statement advising tenants of their rights under the new Ordinance and allowing tenants 5 days to submit a Tenant Notice of COVID-19 Impact.
- Tenant Notice of COVID-19 Impact: The Notice is NOT a specific form. The Ordinance only defines the required notification as “any digital, electronic, or other written communication, with any supporting documents, from the tenant to the landlord that reasonably informs the landlord that the tenant is experiencing any loss, reduction, or delay in income, or a loss or reduction of employment attributable in whole or in part to COVID-19.” Therefore, a text from your tenant, stating that he lost his job due to the coronavirus pandemic, is sufficient to trigger the following requirements.
- Additional 7 Day Negotiation Period: If a Landlord receives such a written notice from a tenant, the Landlord must wait an additional 7 days after expiration of the 5 day notice (not from the date the tenant provides the Notice), during which time the Landlord must “make reasonable efforts to contact the tenant” and “engage in good faith negotiations.” However, the Landlord cannot request documentation of the tenant’s retirement accounts, assets, or personal property, to verify the tenant’s ability to pay the delinquent rent balance.
- Settlements: The Ordinance encourages Landlords to enter into payment plans for unpaid rent, apply security deposits to the rent, or let tenants out of their lease with a partial or full rent concession. These agreements must be in writing and:
- Cannot reject an offer because the tenant’s funds are coming from a public assistance fund
- Cannot contain a non-disclosure agreement
- Cannot require release of liability for habitability issues
- Proof of Compliance: Once filing is allowed, all eviction complaints must contain an affidavit of compliance.
- Affirmative Defense: The tenant is granted an affirmative defense to an eviction action if the court finds that the tenant experienced a COVID-19 hardship and served the Landlord with a notice of that hardship, and the Landlord failed to make reasonable attempts to contact the tenant or failed to engage in good faith negotiations
- Retroactive: The Ordinance is retroactive to March 21, 2020 and immediate action must be taken on any eviction cases filed after March 21, 2020.
The Ordinance contains additional details with regard to interest rates, application of security deposits, arbitration, and mediation. It also includes limited exceptions for certain types of properties. Furthermore, “interpretative rules” are expected from Chicago’s Commissioner of the Department of Housing (DOH) which may tweak or adjust how the rules are implemented and applied by the courts.
There are a number of technicalities contained in this Ordinance are intricate and continue to develop with the Commissioner. Landlords risk dismissal of an eviction lawsuit for any minor noncompliance. Accordingly, we strongly recommend that our clients contact our law firm to ensure adherence prior to serving a termination notice or preparing a file for turnover.
Further, this City of Chicago Ordinance is effective along with the Governor’s prohibition, Cook County restrictions, and the federal CARES Act. Your property may be subject to all of them.
Our office can help you navigate all of the current requirements, deadlines, and procedures so your evictions are on file quickly and correctly when the time comes. We expect long delays in filing and continuances once the courthouses are up and running – don’t risk delaying your evictions any further because you are not in compliance with one of the many legal requirements currently in place.
If you’re an Illinois landlord with questions about the City of Chicago ordinance, the CARES Act, or the recent changes with Illinois eviction legislation, KSN attorneys can be reached by calling 855-537-0500 or by visiting ksnlaw.com.
Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for landlords, property managers, and property owners. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri.
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