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Updated July 17, 2020
Chicago residential tenants who have lost income as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic can notify their landlords in writing within five days of receiving an eviction notice in order to further protect themselves from eviction.
This written notification can take place through letter, email or text message. A text message to the landlord as simple as “I have been unable to pay rent because I have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic” will suffice. A more formal template is available at www.chicago.gov/eviction.
In response to the pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation and eviction moratorium in March 2020. During that eviction moratorium, special rules apply to evictions based upon nonpayment of rent. The moratorium is currently scheduled to end on July 31, 2020, but it could be extended again by the governor. In addition, Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans has the ability to keep courts closed beyond the expiration of the gubernatorial moratorium.
Once the gubernatorial moratorium is lifted and the courts are reopened, landlords can resume the eviction process.
However, in June 2020, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance placing additional restrictions on evictions for nonpayment of rent if the reason for nonpayment was related to COVID-19.
These restrictions are now in effect and will continue for 60 days after the reopening of eviction courts.
If the tenant provides written notice to the landlord that they have lost income as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic within five days of receiving an eviction notice, or if they have done so before receiving an eviction notice, the landlord must take several additional steps in order to continue with the eviction process.
A COVID-19 Impact can be claimed when a tenant or another household member:
If the tenant notifies their landlord of a COVID-19 Impact, an additional seven-day “cooling off period” is added to the five-day notice period.
Before an eviction case can proceed in court, the landlord has to contact the tenant and try to work out with the tenant a plan to avoid eviction. A plan to avoid eviction could include a repayment plan, mediation or arbitration, letting the tenant use their security deposit to cover the missed rent, an agreement for the tenant to move out in a reasonable timeline in exchange to partially or fully waiving back rent, or other arrangements agreed to by the landlord and tenant.
The ordinance also requires that a repayment plan must give a tenant at least two months to re-pay each month of missed rent, but the landlord and tenant can agree to more time if they choose. The ordinance also prohibits non-disclosure agreements as part of a resolution.
The ordinance does not require that the landlord and tenant reach an agreement, but that they make a good faith effort to do so. If a landlord does not use good faith to try and work out an arrangement with the tenant, but files an eviction case anyway, the court must dismiss the eviction case.