Thursday, February 4, 2016

How Can I Work Out a Stay and Pay Agreement with My Chicago Landlord?

Some Chicago tenants like to work out “stay and pay” agreements with their landlords.   Typically, in exchange for the eviction being dismissed, the tenant starts paying the current rent going forward plus something extra towards the back rent.  

These arrangements are great if you want to work things out with your landlord.  They avoid the eviction, you don’t have to move, and your case will be dismissed instead of resulting in an eviction judgment against you.  But you must be very, very careful.  Your landlord is already frustrated with you. He’s not going to be very forgiving if you mess up again.  And there is a lot that can go wrong with a pay and stay agreement.  

First, the agreement will be in writing and it will provide a payment schedule for you to follow.  It will also provide that if you miss a payment, the landlord is automatically entitled to an eviction order and money judgment without trial.  This means any defense you had to the eviction (I didn’t get a 5-Day Notice, I didn’t own any rent, or the apartment is a dump) are waived.  That’s a huge penalty if you miss a payment because you might otherwise get the eviction thrown out entirely.    

Second, you must follow agreement precisely as it’s written.  If you agree to pay $500 by the 7th day of the month, you must pay $500 by the seventh of the month.  Even paying on the 8th day of the month is a breach of the agreement.  And Chicago eviction judges may evict you based just upon that.  Excuses like “I was going to try and pay but I was too sick,” “I used the money to buy my kids Christmas presents,” or “I got mugged as I was going to pay the rent,” just aren't going to fly no matter how sympathetic.   

Third, make sure you can afford the payments.  I've seen too many people promise to pay and then fail because they thought their pay day was on a different Friday, forgot that their car payment was due on the same day that they were going to make the rent payment, or the cousin who promised to help disappeared the day the money was due.  Don't let these happen to you.  Chicago eviction court is a complicated place.  Be careful. 

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