Saturday, October 24, 2015

Why You Need an Eviction Defense Lawyer in Chicago

Sometimes people think they can go it alone in Chicago's eviction courts.  Sometimes they can.  But here's a real world example of a tenant with a great defense who got steamrolled.  

I was waiting for my client's eviction case to be called at the Daley Center.  The case before mine involved the alleged non-payment of rent.   The landlord had a lawyer and the tenant represented herself.  

Under Illinois law, before a landlord can file his eviction lawsuit for unpaid rent, he must give the tenant a 5-Day Notice stating how much rent is past due and giving the tenant 5 full days to pay and keep the apartment.  Only after those 5 days pass with no payment by the tenant does the landlord get the right to go to court.  Illinois law also says that if the tenant tries to make a full payment within the 5 days, the landlord must accept it.  If he refuses the payment and files the eviction anyway because he, "just wants them out," the case should be dismissed and the tenant gets to keep the apartment.  Well, that's how it's supposed to work anyway. 

In the case I watched, the tenant testified that she got the 5-Day Notice and went to pay the landlord the next day.  She told the judge that she had all the money but the landlord refused to accept it saying that he said he just wanted her out.  The landlord did not deny, dispute, or even try to explain this when the judge turned to him.  Instead of throwing the case out, the Judge looked at the tenant and said, "How soon can you be out?  I'm entering an [eviction order] today that gives you 2 weeks to move plus a money judgment for the rent." 

Now the tenant, who should have won her case and kept her apartment, has to move right before the holiday season.  And she also has a judgment on her credit report that will stay on there for 7 years.  Even worse, the judgment could be collected on for up to 27 years.        

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