In case you missed it, the Cook County Sheriff is now warning plaintiffs in Cook County eviction cases that the delays in enforcement as a result of inclement weather could put the plaintiff’s eviction order in jeopardy. What exactly happens when an eviction order gets “too old”?
Well, we look to the Illinois statute at 735 ILCS 5/9-117 with respect to the expiration of a judgment for possession. That statute says, in part:
No judgment for possession obtained in an action brought under this Article may be enforced more than 120 days after judgment is entered, unless upon motion by the plaintiff the court grants an extension of the period of enforcement of the judgment.
The statute provides a procedure to “extend” the validity of an order for possession. Basically, the plaintiff needs to motion the court to extend the period of enforcement of the judgment. This requires drafting and filing a motion and providing notice of motion to the tenant/defendant in the eviction case. The statute provides that there is certain language that MUST be included in the notice of motion to the tenant as follows:
“Your landlord, (insert name), obtained an eviction judgment against you on (insert date), but the sheriff did not evict you within the 120 days that the landlord has to evict after a judgment in court. On the date stated in this notice, your landlord will be asking the court to allow the sheriff to evict you based on that judgment. You must attend the court hearing if you want the court to stop the landlord from having you evicted. To prevent the eviction, you must be able to prove that (1) the landlord and you made an agreement after the judgment (for instance, to pay up back rent or to comply with the lease) and you have lived up to the agreement; or (2) the reason the landlord brought the original eviction case has been resolved or forgiven, and the eviction the landlord now wants the court to grant is based on a new or different reason; or (3) that you have another legal or equitable reason why the court should not grant the landlord’s request for your eviction.”
I would imagine that not many landlords would be excited about the fact that they have to send a tenant a notice that explains various ways a tenant can “stop” the eviction! The most troublesome of those being the third item: any “legal or equitable reason why the court should not grant the landlord’s request for your eviction”. More procedure. More paperwork. More time in front of a judge and more opportunity for the tenant to make arguments as to why they should not be evicted.
Keep in mind, there can be reasons other than the weather that an order might not be enforced within 120 days from its entry. Sometimes landlords and tenants agree to a long stay period. If the landlord agrees to a 90 day stay of enforcement and the Sheriff takes more than 30 days to get out to evict the tenant, the order will be stale. Similarly, an order may be entered and a tenant may file post-judgment motions (for extra time, to vacate the order, for reconsideration, etc.) and the procedural fight over these issues could eat up part of those 120 days casing the landlord to need to get an extension.
The statute provides that the court “shall grant” the plaintiff’s motion for extension “unless the unless the defendant establishes that the tenancy has been reinstated, that the breach upon which the judgment was issued has been cured or waived, that the plaintiff and defendant entered into a post-judgment agreement whose terms the defendant has performed, or that other legal or equitable grounds exist that bar enforcement of the judgment.” From the time the order is extended, it shall be valid for another 120 days from the date of the order for extension.
Hopefully, the Sheriff’s backlog will be dealt with sooner rather than later, but landlords need to be aware that weather delays can cause additional headaches for plaintiffs in Illinois eviction cases.