We knew we would be delayed. That delay is getting a bit longer. Yesterday, in a general court order, Chief Judge Tim Evans adjusted the response of the Circuit Court of Cook County by extending the stay of enforcement on eviction case. Originally, the Sheriff’s enforcement of eviction orders was shuttered until April 14, 2020. Under the new general order, the Sheriff has been placed on hold until May 18, 2020 when eviction orders will next be enforced.
Of course, this will have a serious knock on effect. When the Sheriff resumes enforcement of eviction orders in mid-May, assuming the Coronavirus moratorium is lifted, he will have his usual backup plus an additional 60 days worth of backup. While no new cases are being added to the backlog, once the court is back in business, the number of cases pending (which are being summarily continued by the order) and new cases will be a huge burden on the court system.
I don’t expect things to “go back to normal” in mid-May.
What impact will this Coronavirus delay have on landlords? It means that now, more than ever, it makes sense to work with your tenants. Getting a remedy and recourse through the court system was a time consuming and expensive process during the best of times. Now, it is even worse. Think about taking partial rent and tacking some additional rent on future months. Communicate with your tenants. They aren’t aliens. They aren’t liars. They aren’t trying to get away with something (at least most of them are not). They’re people. They’re struggling just like you. See if you can find a reasonable middle ground. Plenty of folks are still working. They should be paying rent. The folks who have been let go or who are working reduced hours – try to work with them. I have my doubts that any tenant who fails to pay April rent and is then brought into the eviction process would be out any sooner than mid July or August anyway.
I’m not saying to give tenants a free ride. We all know landlords are not getting one and many landlords rely on their rent to live and to pay mortgage loans. A landlord needs to be smart and engaged at a time like this. Make realistic evaluations of tenants. Think things through. Maybe a lease extension with some back-end rent? Maybe a bit of rent forgiveness? Maybe some rent restructuring? Those things can go a long way to keep a good tenant from getting into a bad spot. And, of course, landlords who need advice or help documenting those situations, be sure to contact us to see if we are a match for an engagement to help.