The Illinois Eviction Moratorium
Will the woes of landlords never cease? It has been a difficult year for everyone, and residential landlords are in no better shape than anyone else, particularly when their tenants are not paying rent.
Since March of 2020, the governor has issued a number of orders staying evictions. The latest of these orders, issued early this month, extends the eviction moratorium through May 1, 2021.
To determine if a tenant can be evicted, there is a four-part test. If the tenant cannot answer yes to each part, he can be evicted:
a. Did the tenant earn no more than $99,000 in annual income in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing jointly)? OR
b. Was the tenant not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service? OR
c. Did the tenant receive an Economic Impact Payment pursuant to Section 2001 of the CARES Act?
Is the tenant not able to make a full rent payment due to a COVID-19 related hardship such as substantial loss of income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, or an increase in out-of-pocket expenses directly related to COVID-19?
Is the tenant is using his best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close as possible to the full rent payment as the tenant’s circumstances permit, taking into account other Non-Discretionary Expenses?
Will the tenant become homeless if evicted?
If the answer to any part of Part One is yes, and if the answers to Parts Two, Three and Four are yes, then the tenant cannot be evicted without a challenge.
Landlord are required to give tenants a declaration form asking the various question in the test. If the tenant can answer them all yes, the landlord cannot evict without challenging the tenant’s declaration. Just a few weeks ago the Illinois Supreme Court recently issued an order creating additional safeguards for tenants. Specifically, landlords now have to state a legal and factual basis for to challenge the eviction moratorium, as opposed to a vaguely worded challenge. The burden of the challenge rests with the landlord.
Given the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that the governor has determined that it’s better to keep people in their homes, rather than homeless on the streets. Many tenants that have benefited from the eviction moratorium are well-deserving. They have lost their jobs or their health or both during this pandemic. There are instances, however, of tenants taking advantage of their landlords — refusing to pay rent knowing they cannot be evicted, even though they have not lost their income. The eviction moratorium protects both tenants who are deserving and those who are not. It’s up to the government to help landlords who are being taken advantage of in the latter situation.