Know Your Rights: COVID 19 Eviction Protection Ordinance
Updated July 30, 2021
Chicago residential tenants who have lost income as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic should 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 below.
State and Local Requirements
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced that starting Aug. 1, 2021 landlords will be able to file for eviction for nonpayment, and that evictions will not be enforced until Aug. 31, 2021. This does not prohibit landlords from initiating eviction procedures against tenants if they pose a direct threat to the health and safety of other tenants or an immediate and severe risk to the property.
To qualify for the moratorium, tenants must:
- Earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or $198,000 if filing jointly);
- Be unable to make a full rent or housing payment due to a COVID-19 related hardship including, but not limited to, substantial loss of income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, or an increase in out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Be using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other non-discretionary expenses; and
- Eviction would likely render them homeless—or force them to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting—because they have no other available housing options. The moratorium does not relieve any obligation to pay rent and tenants will be required to pay all unpaid rental payments.
The moratorium does not relieve any obligation to pay rent and tenants will be required to pay all unpaid rental payments.
In June 2020, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot signed the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance, which provides tenants additional protections if the tenant writes the landlord stating that they have had a “COVID-19 Impact.”
A COVID-19 Impact can be claimed when a tenant or another household member:
- Is laid-off from work
- Has their hours at work reduced
- Has to isolate or quarantine because of COVID-19 diagnosis or possible exposure
- Has to care for someone else affected by COVID-19
Tenants who have notified their landlords of a COVID-19 impact will have the five-day notice period extended by seven days, for a total of 12 days. During the 12-day period, the landlord must 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 without the landlord getting an eviction judgment against them, or other arrangements agreed to by the landlord and tenant.
Additionally, all landlords who have received a Tenant Notice of COVID-19 Impact and who have not applied for emergency rental assistance funds from either the city or state must, no later than the fifth day after issuing a five-day notice of termination of tenancy, register with the Department of Housing (DOH) using the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Registry. The purpose of registry is to notify landlords of additional rental assistance options as they become available and to provide tenants with access to additional resources. Proof of complying with the registration requirement can be accomplished by screen printouts of the registration or downlods of a previously completed Emergency Rental Assistance Program with allowable redactions of private or personal information.
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 or does not register with the Department's Emergency Rental Assistance Program, but files an eviction case anyway, the tenant will have a defense against the eviction.,