COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski

Landlords Beware: Eviction Rules Update

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COVID Rules for Residential Evictions

UPDATED May 10, 2021

The largest landlords in the US received letters from the  Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) reminding the landlords that the COVID-19-related eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has been exttended until June 30, 2021, and that the CFPB has issued an interim final rule establishing new notice requirements under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).

The letters ask the landlords to review their practices to ensure that they comply with the CDC moratorium, the FTC Act, the FDCPA and the CFPB’s interim final rule.  The CFPB interim final rule requires debt collectors to provide to tenants who may have rights under the eviction moratorium a written notice of those rights concurrent with an eviction notice or on the date that an eviction action is filed, and clarifies that notice given over the phone or by electronic means such as text or email is insufficient.  The FTC and CFPB’s letters came just two days before a federal judge struck down the moratorium as an excessive exercise of power by the CDC, a decision that the judge temporarily put on hold pending additional filings.

UPDATED APRIL 7, 2021

The Illinois Supreme Court issued an order this week creating stronger protection for tenants in need of rent relief due to the pandemic and making it more difficult for landlord to obtain an eviciton.

Landlords seeking to challenge the eviction moratorium have to declare the legal and factual basis for the challenge.  The Illinois Supreme Court issued an order in December 2020 relating to the eviction moratorium that outlines the process for landlords to challenge a tenant’s declaration under the order.  The order was It amended in February and again on Tuesday.   The Illinois Supreme Court’s latest order of April 6 states that landlords must identify “with specificity the legal or factual basis…for any such challenge.”  It also states directly that the “burden to sustain such a challenge remains at all times with the plaintiff/landlord.”  THIS MAKES IT HARDER FOR LANDLORDS TO GET RELIEF.

And …. Illinois Governor Pritzker reissued another eviction moratorium executive order last week, extending rent relief to tenants who are unable to pay due to economic hardship through May 1.  If you are a tenant facing eviction, go to https://covidhelpillinois.org/ for additional information and resources.

UPDATED MARCH 23, 2021 FOR COOK COUNTY

The Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County issued an Amendment to General Administration Order 2020-7 and some highlights are:

– bans all residential evictions unless the Judge finds that compelling circumstances require an immediate eviction and the Sheriff is prohibited from conducting any evictions unless specific instructions are given by the Judge;

– Civil Jury trials may not scheduled until at least May 3, 2021 (but it is doubtful that any civil jury trials will be allowed to start at that time);

– requires all civil proceedings to be conducted remotely by videoconferencing unless the trial judge determines that extradordinary proceedings should be held in person;

– all court personnel shall work remotely;

– anyone coming into the court houses must wear masks;

– marriages must be arranged by appointment only;

The bottom line:  We are still in state of pandemic and the courts in Cook County are operating under the emergency orders.

UPDATED JANUARY 17, 2021 FOR COOK COUNTY

The Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County issued another Administrative Order affecting the status of all cases, including eviction cases.

An Early Resolution Program is available for all eviction and consumer debt cases filed after March 20, 2020.  Services available under the ERP will include brief legal services (legal screenings, legal information and advice, settlement negotiation, referrals for extended representation, drafting assistance), conflict resolution (mediation and negotiation assistance), and/or financial assistance (applying for emergency rental funds, mortgage relief, financial counseling, or other financial assistance). The services that are directly needed by a case will depend on the facts and circumstances in each specific case. Services are available for landlords, tenants, and debtors by calling 1-855-956-5763 or visiting cookcountylegalaid.org.

UPDATED DECEMBER 22, 2020:

The COVID-19 Pandemic has drastically altered the rules for Residential Evictions affecting both landlords and tenants.  The recent Stay-At-Home recommendations and the slowdown in the economy have created pressures on both landlord and tenants.

Commercial Evictions are not subject to these new rules.

The Federal Government and the State of Illinois have enacted rules tthat strictly govern residential evictions and landlords must be aware of the rules to protect their interests.   

On December 22 the Illinois Supreme Court stepped into the discussion and issued an Order which will affect the procedures for the filing of a residential eviction.  See: Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19 Emergency Residential Eviction Proceedings, Order # M.R. 30370.   This Order describes a process for every eviction action and requires a certification form that all landlords (residential and commercial) must submit with any eviction complaint filed until the moratorium ends.  Before the case is accepted a judge must review the filings and if the filings do not satisfy the requirements of the Order, the case will be dismissed, the court file will be sealed, and any future refiling fee will be waived.  This is intended to avoid erroneous filings and allows landlords to correct any errors by permitting them to refile without incurring additional court costs.   The Order and the Certification Form are available online here.

The Illinois Eviction Moratorium was first enacted in March and most recently extended on November 13 by Executive Order 2020-72 extends the residential eviction prohibition, including the Federal Order requirements regarding “covered persons” and adding an additional requirement of mandating that the Economic Hardship Declaration form be given by Illinois landlords to all tenants PRIOR to serving any notice terminating tenancy.  This broadens the scope of the order from mere demands for unpaid rent to any notices “terminating tenancy.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a formal Agency Order on September 4 halting evictions thru the end of the year.   See: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/04/2020-19654/temporary-halt-in-residential-evictions-to-prevent-the-further-spread-of-covid-19   For FAQs about the federal order see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/eviction-moratoria-order-faqs.pdf   The CDC Order includes the requirement of a Declaration signed by the Tenant to avoid eviction.

Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-72 protects tenants who have experienced economic hardship due to COVID-19 and will not earn more than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 for a married couple).  To get protected, tenants must submit a Declaration to their landlord stating that they have experienced an economic hardship. 

The Declaration is available at:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf  

NOTE TO LANDLORDS: the Landlord must give the form of the Declaration to the Tenant prior to the service of the Five-Day Notice.

For additional FAQs about the Rental Relief Program go to: https://df7qosnywqs6g.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FAQ-Eviction-EO-11.13.20-FINAL.pdf