Illinois State Senator Patricia Van Pelt, a Democrat representing Chicago’s in the 5th District, has proposed SB0077 which is a new attempt to pass legislation to seal eviction records. This concept has popped up in the past and hasn’t gone anywhere, but, as demonstrated by the current fight over rent control, the more progressive members of the legislature have targeted landlords and we seem to be in the middle of an all out effort to overpower landlords in Illinois.
Yesterday, the Chicago Reader ran an article entitled “Failed eviction attempts wouldn’t haunt tenants under proposed state law“. The article touts the benefits of a proposed state law to automatically seal eviction records in Illinois.
Although the eviction moratorium is set to end today, I have my doubts that the Sheriff will be working tomorrow. The weather forecast for tomorrow (1/6/15) predicts a high of 14 degrees and a low of -4 degrees. This feels eerily like 2014. As most Chicago landlords know, the Cook County Sheriff is prohibited by the Clerk of the Circuit Court general order from enforcing evictions (1) whenever the outside temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit or colder on the actual day of the eviction or (2) whenever regardless of outside temperature, extreme weather conditions endanger the health and welfare of those to be evicted. As of 10:45am today (1/5/15), the Sheriff’s eviction schedule website looks like this:
For those of you landlords who have been following the Cook County Sheriff’s eviction schedule web page, you will have noticed that evictions are once again this week canceled for the 24th of January. The Sheriff’s web page says “Evictions Will Be Cancelled Due To Weather / Rescheduled At A Later Date”. There have not been many evictions so far in this new year.
Warning, this is a “perspective” post for landlords! A Chicago landlord and prospective client called me the other day and said he wanted to kick his tenant out. Being the helpful landlord-tenant attorney I am, I began to discuss the Illinois eviction process. I started to tell him about how he needs to serve a notice of termination of tenancy and the procedures to evict in the Circuit Court of Cook County. He stopped me. He said he wanted to kick the tenant out, literally. Then, I had to stop him.
In recent months, the judges in the Forcible Entry and Detainer Department of the First District of the Circuit Court of Cook County have begun suggesting, more and more, that parties before them use the “new” form “Agreed Settlement Order”. The form, which has been around since early 2013, provides a quicker and easier way to begin a settlement order with a tenant in a Cook County eviction case.
For our office, the beginning of the “eviction” season started out a bit slow (it is not a bad thing that landlords are, hopefully, collecting rent and doing better screening so that we do less evictions!). However, for us, things in the eviction courts are starting to heat up. I am predicting, based only on anecdotal evidence from my office’s caseload and a few of my attorney friends, that the eviction lawyers, judges, and courts in Cook County will be busily processing forcible entry and detainer cases in the next 60 days and that, if the fall/winter weather is uncooperative, this will lead to a major backlog in eviction case enforcement early in 2014.
By now, my readers should know that the Illinois forcible entry and detainer statute is hyper-technical. It is easy to get “off track” in an eviction. Landlords can get easily distracted from the essentials of an eviction case. When that happens, they focus on “side-issues” that don’t really impact the eviction case. These side-issues only serve to distract from the case and sometimes even allow a defendant to stumble onto an issue that will cause a delay or may even prove fatal to the landlord’s case.
An article in the Daily Herald describes a McHenry County man who now faces jail time for moving back into the real estate he occupied before being evicted. According to the article, a jury found the man guilty of criminal trespass. He will be sentenced soon and faces “up to 364 days in jail, up to two years probation, and a maximum $2,500 fine.”