Massive Delays in Cook County Eviction Courts
Are you a landlord with a case pending in the Cook County Circuit Court system? As noted on this blog, in late July, Judge Kenneth Wright entered an order postponing ALL eviction court dates pending for August appearances. The County has developed a system to increase the caseload of the eviction judges by 10 cases per judge per day four days a week. The results of that rescheduling are now being made known and the results are shocking.
Landlords are facing additional delays up to SIX MONTHS. I am hearing of cases being delayed into November, December and even into 2021. I have spoken with other attorneys who have had their cases delayed as long as February, 2021. I personally represent landlords in two separate cases that had notices served before Covid-19 was “a thing” and that were filed BEFORE the Governor’s executive order prohibited filing residential evictions. Both of these cases have been delayed with INITIAL court dates in January, 2021. That means that by the time these cases are heard for the first time, they will have been pending for TEN months.
This. Is. A. Travesty.
This is not justice for landlords. There is no fairness in this system. Heck, the Sheriff decided (arguably without authority) that service of eviction summonses was not “essential” work, so he has not even attempted service in these cases yet. These cases have not even had their first day in court.
The tenants in those cases? Enjoying free living and ignoring the landlords’ pleas to work out a compromise. You can bet that the lenders for most landlords are not deferring mortgage payments. The County is not suggesting landlords skip their property taxes this year. The City water department is still collecting for their service. Sorry landlords, you’re easy pickings and you’re the chump of the day.
It will be interesting to see what happens after the August 22, 2020 moratorium on filing evictions expires (assuming the Governor does not extend it). Will those newly filed cases get court dates in 2021? Are these cases in 2021 just part of the “10 per day system” and newly filed cases will get sooner dates? If so, dismissing a pending case and refiling might be a logical strategy. We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, the Circuit Court should be exploring ways to better manage its caseload like allowing a non-contested e-filed call for appointment of process servers or extension of pending eviction orders.
For a few months, I’ve been calling on landlords to get organized. The various investment groups, builder’s groups, and property owner associations need to band together to get one consistent landlord-side voice to the table. Without that, the landlords will continue to be pushed around. If you are a landlord, get involved. Join one of the many fine groups or associations in your area and lobby their leadership to help get organized.
Is this how the system rewards housing providers in Cook County, Illinois? By removing their right to enforce their lease contracts? In the age of Covid, the answer is, simply… yes.