Landlords and tenants create legal relationships through the lease agreements that they execute. In Chicago, residential leases are governed by the provisions of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO). The RLTO requires the parties to residential lease agreements to communicate and give notice on important residential property issues.
At this time in history, however, both landlords and tenants are confronting unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many renters have lost sources of income and are unable to pay their rents. This, in turn, has created financial hardships for landlords who need rent payments to stay afloat.
This post addresses some of the changes to eviction processes that landlords and tenants in Chicago must adopt during the COVID-19 pandemic. This post does not provide legal advice and concerns over rental evictions should be directed to local real property attorneys.
Evictions in the time of COVID-19
Landlords can file eviction notices for nonpayment with their tenants, however, tenants have greater protections to avoid being removed from their rented homes. A tenant who receives a 5-day notice of eviction has the opportunity to file a notice in return with their landlord explaining that their nonpayment of rent was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once the tenant responds to their landlord and states that their nonpayment is due to the pandemic, the landlord is obligated to work with the tenant to establish a repayment plan. Landlords and tenants have some leeway with regard to how they set up repayment options, and in such situations individuals may wish to consult with attorneys to ensure the terms of their repayment plans are clear.
Looking ahead to changes in the ordinance
At this time, the COVID-19 pandemic is controlling the lives of Chicago residents through their ability to work, move, and live in the city. Individuals who are currently protected by the rent moratorium and the RLTO may be unsure of what they can do once their rents become due. It is not too early for both landlords and tenants to begin exploring their legal options to protect their housing and rental incomes. Real property attorneys can support individuals with knowledgeable and timely guidance.