State legislator seeks to ban the Cook County winter eviction moratorium

bricksIs she right or is she doing damage to landlords?

A news article in the Chicago Sun Times yesterday indicates that state representative Monique Davis (Democrat) introduced a bill this week to “eliminate weather as a factor in enforcement of eviction judgments”.  Readers of this blog are well aware of the current significant delay in eviction order enforcement in Cook County cause, in part, by the winter eviction moratorium and the recent inclement weather.  Apparently Rep. Davis is a landlord herself and is not pleased with how “some of them [tenants] know how to play the game”.

While many landlords might be pleased to know a state representative is interested in speeding evictions along, I suspect the measure will not gain widespread support.  In fact, the Sun Times article indicates that “Representatives for some of the main trade groups representing landlords told me they have no position on Davis’ legislation, but made sure I knew it hadn’t come at their suggestion”.  How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

I bet I can guess why landlord groups might not want to back such a proposal.  First, the timing is horrible.  Chicagoans are enduring a tragically cold winter.  I suspect no one thinks evicting people when it is 0 degrees outside is a fair, good, or safe idea.  Second, the moratorium is not the real problem in the eviction system.  As a society, I’m pretty sure most people, even landlords, are okay with or can at least understand (I hope) the concept of not throwing someone on the street – even if they are deserving – during the Christmas holiday or in the frigid cold.

The real culprit here is the current system.  The eviction process is very much broken and in need of reform to speed the process as a whole.  The trouble is that Rep. Davis’ proposition lands so far from the target that it is likely to poison the well for future reforms to the system.  Future efforts to improve the system are likely to fall on deaf ears.

What could be done to fix the system?  A few quick thoughts for some reasonably simple reforms that would help to speed and improve the process:

First, the five day notice period for nonpayment of rent can be shortened from five days to three days.  By my unscientific count, at least nineteen states allow for an eviction on three or fewer days notice.  What’s two days?  I don’t know, what is $1500 rent divided by 30 times 2? $100.  Would you walk across the street to pick up a hundred bucks?

Second, eviction judgments should be enforceable instanter in all but the most unusual cases.  I routinely see judges enter a “stay” of the enforcement of possession for one or two weeks and sometimes more in the Cook County Circuit Court.  Presumably, the judges are giving tenants “time to get out”.  The trouble is that all of the parties, the judges, the attorneys, and the tenants, know that, except in the oddest of circumstances, the Sheriff will not be out to evict in a week or two or probably three or four.  Why tack an extra 14 days on to the time it will take to move the tenant out?  That’s just unfair to the landlord.

Finally, the Sheriff needs to find a new way to enforce eviction orders.  Years ago, Sheriff Dart stopped moving tenants’ belongings out of the rental property.  Maybe the Sheriff needs to double up on the number of evictions processed in a day or possibly charge landlords more for an eviction so that more Sheriff’s Deputy’s can be hired to enforce these court orders within a reasonable time.

The system needs some reform.  I am not suggesting that due process be trampled.  But, in my opinion, to legislate the moratorium out of existence is not the right reform.  It might be time for landlord and tenants to take a good look at the system and work to make it better.

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5 Responses to State legislator seeks to ban the Cook County winter eviction moratorium

  1. Monique Davis says:

    You may not know this but if the Sheriff has not carried out the eviction in 120 days you have to file with the sheriff again. Also each time a judge orders and eviction the tenant can go in to court and file another delay request. As long as this request is on the docket the sheriff cannot evict. The case that is really a problem is the tenant moved into the apartment in April, paid rent in May and gave a check to a closed account in June. No rent has been paid since May 2012. Several calls to the Chicago Police because other residents stated that the person is a prostitute and does not live there only uses the apartment for her business. From the original filing in August until Feb. 2014 the lady remains in the apartment. The landlord has also been made aware that drugs are involved in the apartment and evidence was seen. What is a landlord to do? We do not want anyone out on the street in the winter, but when tenants are allowed to delay the process the
    cost and the delay means they know the system and it costly to all.

    • Richard Magnone says:

      I’m well aware of the 120 day rule and even did a post about it last week. You are also correct about the motion procedures. No doubt, the delays are too wrong and tenants who have “been there done that” are able to “game” the system. I don’t think even the tenant’s rights attorneys would dispute this. That’s why some real reform is necessary. Talk to your alderman, talk to your state representatives. Getting rid of the moratorium is not the right answer but there are other reforms that can help! People need to realize that the ills cited by tenant’s rights groups like Lawyer’s Committee for Better Hosing that come from vacant properties are caused in part by tenants who fail to pay rent and force landlords into foreclosure.

  2. Marie Scott says:

    Agreed. Mr. Brown was WRONG on this one. Whether or not Rep. Davis is herself in a dispute about her own commercial rent does not negate the fact that the eviction laws are BROKEN!!

    The Sheriff STILL hasn’t come to evict the couple that I served eviction papers to 4 months ago. Their mother isn’t even on the lease (came for a “visit”), but we are powerless to make her leave because she has received mail and “established residency”. I found records in the mom’s name at the Circuit Court that indicates that she has been running this scam for YEARS!

    These bad tenants use water and heat every day. How are we supposed to pay those bills without the rent? Does Judge Wright have an answer to that when he allows these scofflaws to remain through the holidays? I could care less if these people have a great holiday. They owe THOUSANDS of dollars!

    A better solution to this issue could be to base the moratorium on weather alone, NOT the holiday. Because of His Honor’s, generosity, the landlords have now effectively had TWO moratoriums.

    The Sheriff’s office told me that there are roughly 13,000 landlords in the que for tenant eviction. What right does Wright have to give away 2 months rent from 13,000 landlords?! A quick google search puts the average rent in the city at $1100/mo. Judge Wright just gave away over $46,000 EACH DAY of delay.

    Recent changes to the Sheriff’s eviction procedures don’t help either. The officers no longer assist with the tenant removal. We have to hire someone for that. They wont even get out of the vehicle to ring the bell. Nor will they call the landlord once they arrive at the property. Even the cable man does that. The landlord is told to be “on the lookout” for the officer to arrive during a 4-hour window. The officer will only wait 10 minutes. If the landlord doesn’t come outside and meet the officer, the officer will leave and the landlord goes to the back of the line. And of course pay another fee.

    suggest that Mr. Brown investigate the other side of this story rather than immediately railing against Rep. Davis.

  3. JP Hampton says:

    I actually agree with representative Davis. She has my support on this issue. The eviction process is too slow and does need reform. I suggest evictions fees increase to ensure swift and efficient. Unless there is a unique situation which requires arbitration between the landlord and tenant, after 30 days and one court appearance an eviction should be executed within 7days after a verdict. I’m sure landlords and politicians alike would agree to increase the eviction fees to ensure a better process. More people are playing the system than actually falling on tough luck.

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