AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the eviction moratorium for another 30 days earlier this month.
It’s on-going relief for renters, but a nonstop headache for some property owners.
CBS 2’s Lauren Victory went to the suburbs, where free housing and a snarky text message has one landlord’s blood boiling. As the pandemic continues, so does that COVID-19 policy about evictions – which landlord Sean Morrissey thinks is garbage.
“It’s only getting worse and worse as the months go by,” Morrissey said.
Property owners would normally be able to take tenants who don’t pay rent to court to either force them to cough up the money or leave the unit. But the ban on evictions in Illinois keeps getting extended.
Thousands of dollars in uncollected rent is causing Morrissey’s bills to pile up for things like maintenance and repairs.
“That cost gets passed on to all the good tenants – all the people that actually pay their bills,” Morrissey said, “and that’s not fair to them.”
One renter in Aurora has him so fired up, he’s lawyered up with a five-day notice ready to go when the moratorium is lifted.
“The last payment we received from this particular tenant was in August 2020,” Morrissey said.
He shared a text exchange from last week. In it, Morrissey asks the renter her plan to pay down the $16,000 she owes now that stimulus checks have come in.
The response from the tenant was three laughing emojis.
“How can you take that except as an utter insult?” Morrissey said. “Her lease expired six weeks ago. There’s nothing I can do. My hands are tied. I need help.”
CBS 2 knows money is tight for many people these days, so we wanted to give the overdue tenant a chance to explain. Her daughter answered the door.
Victory: “Is there a reason why you haven’t been paying the landlord?”
Tenant’s Daughter: “The landlord has been harassing my mother.”
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Morrissey denied that claim.
“As soon as she finds a place to stay, she will be moving,” the tenant’s daughter said.
When Victory aske the tenant’s daughter if her mother would pay back what she owes, the daughter did not answer.
There was also no clear answer on that or what type of rental assistance has been applied for, or the reason for laughing text.
Morrissey said he offered the tenant $2,500 to move out in November, a landlord strategy known as “cash for keys.”
The tenant refused the offer. Her daughter said moving is hard during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, given the eviction moratorium, there’s nothing I can do,” Morrissey said.
“I don’t know what you want her to do,” the tenant’s daughter told him.
It’s an old-fashioned landlord-tenant dispute in new territory.
Many rental property owners are sounding off about the eviction moratorium on social media. Morrissey’s solution would be to end the ban and open courts back up for evictions.
“Let the judges decide on a case-by-case basis who should stay and who should go on the basis of they’re willing to cooperate with landlords,” he said. “If there is a payment plan in place, awesome. If there is communication in place, awesome. If they’re clearly trying to dodge that particular rental owner and not pay rent and squat, we need to do something about that.”
If you’re’ struggling to pay rent, the federal government is providing states with money for rental assistance. The Illinois Housing Development Authority says the money can be used for 12 months of past-due rent and three months of future rent.
IDHA is not accepting applications yet, but keep checking this website.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pritzker’s Office didn’t answer any of our questions about the eviction moratorium.
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A federal ban on evictions is also in place and was just extended to June 30.