Pritzker extends eviction ban again while courts weigh challenge

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has, again, extended the state’s stringent ban on rental evictions in Illinois as property owners report more renters have failed to pay for housing.

Pritzker announced on Wednesday an extension of the moratorium, which is more stringent than the national hold on evictions that runs through the year.

The moratorium will now extend into its seventh month even though Pritzker lifted the stay-at-home order on May 29. He said Wednesday that more than 100,000 tenants have applied for the state’s rental assistance program. The program only has funding for about 40,000 people.

“Here in Illinois, we will use every legal tool at our disposal to keep people safe, healthy, employed and housed,” Pritzker said.

The extra 30 days represents another month of diminished payments for property owners like Andrew Timms, president of the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association. Timms said most owners have four units or less. Should one of those tenants decide to stop paying, Timms said it can trigger foreclosure.

“People are being crushed by this every day,” he said. “People’s entire retirements are either going or are gone.”

The National Multifamily Housing Council tracks rent payments in more than 11 million properties. The council found 94.5% of renters it tracked had paid rent in August of this year, a 1.3 percentage point difference from the same month in 2019.

“Why are we protecting these people who are not only abusing the system but are cowardly hiding behind those who are really suffering,” Timms said.

He shared the story of a woman who owned an apartment complex in Chicago. The owner said half of her sixty tenants stop paying rent in a matter of weeks, largely thanks to a resident of the complex who moonlights as a tenant’s rights advocate.

The NMHC said the numbers show a real need for housing assistance.

“While it remains clear that many apartment residents continue to prioritize their housing obligations and that apartment owners and operators remain committed to meeting them halfway with creative and nuanced approaches, the reality is that the second week of September figures shows ongoing deterioration of rent payment figures – representing hundreds of thousands of households who are increasingly at risk,” NMHC President Doug Bibby said.

Timms’ organization is challenging Pritzker’s order in a Will County Appellate Court after a lower court sided with the governor. The organization expects a ruling in October.

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