Yesterday, Rep. Monique Davis filed a third amendment to her proposed legislation to add a small, but meaningful, reform to the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act and the way that evictions are handled in Cook County. The law started out as an attempt to thwart the Cook County eviction moratorium and has morphed via two wholesale amendments of the suggested statute into a pretty fair, in my opinion, proposal to change to reduce the Sheriff’s eviction backlog and speed eviction enforcement.
The text of the new amendment is as follows:
Section 5. The Code of Civil Procedure is amended by adding Section 9-122 as follows:
(735 ILCS 5/9-122 new)
Sec. 9-122. Judgment for possession; enforcement.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in a county with a population of 3,000,000 or more, the following apply:
(1) The number of motions a tenant may file to stay the enforcement of an order for possession is limited to 2, unless good cause for an additional stay is shown by written motion filed with the court and served upon the plaintiff.
(2) A peace officer, as that term is defined in Section 2-13 of the Criminal Code of 2012, who is on duty is authorized to execute the order for possession. A peace officer, as that term is defined in Section 2-13 of the Criminal Code of 2012, who is off duty but employed on a part-time basis by a licensee under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act of 2004 is authorized to execute the order for possession. This paragraph (2) does not limit the authority of the sheriff to execute the order for possession.
(b) This Section applies only to the eviction of tenants of single-family or multi-family residential dwellings.
So, what’s different in this new version?
First, the last draft of the law applied in municipalities with a population of 500,000 or more. Now, the law reverts back to the familiar old “county with a population of 3,000,000 or more” which is just a nice way of saying “this is Cook County only”.
Next, the old proposed law sought to prevent tenants from filing more than two motions to stay the enforcement of an eviction. The amended version allows tenants to file only two except that they could file more if they can show good cause for an additional stay. This may be viewed as a “win” for the tenant side, however, it is actually just, in my opinion, the refinement of proposed legislation to be more fair. Hopefully, this change was inserted to draw more widespread support of the law. I would be surprised if tenant’s rights advocates would complain about this language.
Third, the proposed law used to say that the Sheriff had 30 days from the order for possession to remove the tenant and if the Sheriff did not, the plaintiff was authorized to use a third party to execute the order for possession. Again, this law is getting refined. The new proposal drops the 30 day time limit. Instead, it indicates that any on-duty “peace officer” as defined by Section 2-13 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 2012 or any off-duty peace officer who is employed on a part time basis by a licensed private detective or similar company may execute an order for possession. Opponents of the law were arguing that the Sheriff was the only good party to enforce evictions as opposed to unregulated parties. Now, the law proposes that qualified peace officers who work for licensed companies may do the job in addition to having the option to allow the Sheriff to do it.
Finally, the law indicates that this law applies only to single-family or multi-family residential dwellings. This proposed law would not regulate the handling of commercial evictions.
My verdict? I think it is a smart refinement of a small part of the eviction process that needs reform. The Sheriff is doing a good job of getting evictions processed, but they still take too long. Giving the Sheriff some relief is not the worst idea anyone has ever had! Limiting the endless post-eviction motion games tenants can sometimes play is also a smart step int he right direction. I hope this law picks up support and passes.