To the concern of many landlords in Illinois, Governor Pritzker has extended the eviction moratorium for the State until August 22nd. While protecting tenants, this continuation will hurt landlords. Additionally, the City of Chicago has now passed several ordinances also protecting tenants, including the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance and the Fair Notice Ordinance.

The COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance requires landlords to serve their standard 5-day demand for nonpayment of rent but adds an additional negotiation mandate. If, within those five days, the tenant provides a “Tenant Notice of COVID-19 Impact,” the landlord must allow for an additional 7-day “cooling off” period prior to filing an eviction action or maintaining an action for rent and/or damages without terminating the rental agreement. The landlord must make a good faith effort to contact and negotiate with the tenant during this 7-day period, and must plead and prove, in court, that negotiations were attempted in good faith.  After this period, and with proof of the attempted negotiation, the landlord can then file the eviction.

This ordinance applies to all dwellings in the City of Chicago, including small owner-occupied buildings that are otherwise exempt from the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance, and will apply to any eviction filed after March 21, 2020 and covers eviction cases filed 60 days following the reopening of the State’s eviction courts, whenever that may occur.

The ordinance is silent on what actually constitutes “good-faith”.  An additional unknown is how judges will utilize the good faith requirement when ruling on these cases.

More recently, Chicago passed the Fair Notice Ordinance. This ordinance increases the amount of time required before terminating a periodic lease, declining to renew a lease, or increasing rent. If a tenant has resided at the property for more than 6 months (but less than three years), the landlord must now give 60 days’ notice prior to raising rent, not renewing, or terminating a lease. For tenants who have resided at a property for more than three years, the landlord must give 120 days’ notice. Tenants with residential tenancies of less than six months are owed a 30 days’ notice.

These increased notice periods may be another hurdle landlords could face if it becomes necessary to remove a tenant. Moreover, the ordinance provides tenants a “one time right to cure the non-payment of rent” prior to any order of possession being entered. Though ambiguous, it states that a tenant can cure the default by “paying the landlord unpaid rent, duly owed from the date of the notice of termination to the date of payment, together with all filing fees and costs paid by the landlord and all fees and costs expended by the landlord for service of process, but not including attorney’s fees.”

While at a standstill, evictions in Chicago have become overwhelmingly complicated. And with these new ordinances and, presumably, more changes ahead, it is essential to stay focused and informed. For more than 25 years, Erwin Law has been helping landlords stay up to date, avoid costly mistakes, delays and penalties, and protect their investments. For thoughtful guidance and counsel during these tumultuous times, call us at 773-525-0153.

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