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Changes to the RLTO beginning June 1, 2016

May 28th, 2016

A change is coming into effect starting June 1, 2016 for Landlords that rent in Chicago and are subject to the provisions of the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance.  The summary that is required to be provided under the RLTO was modified in March 2016 with an effective date of June 1, 2016.  The change is not significant in terms of the law as it is adding language about bed bugs and bed bug education.  However, the effect of non-compliance with attaching the summary remains the same.  If you fail to attach the updated summary to new leases after  June 1st, a landlord is subject to liability under the ordinance.  While the penalty for a violation is a $100.00, the landlord is responsible for the payment of the attorneys’ fees of their tenant as well as court costs. The attorneys’ fees can run into thousands of dollars for non-compliance and court costs for filing and service exceed $400.00.  This does not include Landlords’ attorneys’ fees or costs.  Additionally, the tenant will still be able to terminate a lease that is not compliant with the ordinance without being in breach of contract.  It is important for landlords, management companies, Realtors and tenants to be aware of this issue.  I am expecting to see this issue come up quite a bit as landlords become aware of the change only after unknowingly violating the ordinance.  You can view a copy of the ordinance at the City of Chicago website or by using the link below.

The Sheriff is Conducting Evictions Again

January 4th, 2016

While dealing with the issues that relate from tenants not paying their rent, having to hire a lawyer and steer through the Court system to obtain an order of possession is difficult.  The Christmas moratorium, where the Sheriff stops enforcing eviction orders from the week before Christmas through the first week of the new year, causes landlords more headaches and grief.  It often leads to tenants believing that they are not able to be evicted during the winter and taking an attitude with their landlords taunting them that they will be in there all winter.  Well, the good news for landlords is that the Cook County Sheriff started enforcing the orders of evictions today.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that the Sheriff has a long back log of possession orders to enforce.  Currently the Sheriff is taking at least eight weeks to enforce the orders from the date they are filed.  This is the general time frame and varies depending on the number of evictions scheduled for a particular area. 

Board of Directors – Lakeside Community Development Corp.

September 19th, 2015

I am proud to announce that I have officially been invited to and accepted a position on the Board of Directors for Lakeside Community Development Corporation. Lakeside CDC is a not-for-profit housing and community development organization founded in 2005 with the mission of “preserving and creating affordable housing opportunities through education, advocacy, and real estate development.” Located in Rogers Park on Chicago’s Far North Side, Lakeside serves residents of the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs, with a primary focus on eight Far North Side neighborhoods. Lakeside is motivated by the belief that communities characterized by racial, economic, and cultural diversity are the ideal, but such diversity can be undermined by a lack of safe, decent, and affordable housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. Our work is intended to ensure that all people, but especially people of limited incomes, have the ability to enjoy the benefits of living in stable and diverse communities of opportunity.

Cook County Real Estate Taxes

August 1st, 2015

The second installment of real estate taxes in Cook County is due on Monday August 3, 2015. Penalties apply afterwards. You can pay your property taxes online through the Cook County Treasurer’s website, at any Chase bank or in person. Online payments may be made by credit card or electronic check.

Update on the Jury Process

May 15th, 2015

It has been a few weeks since the new jury assignment call has went into effect.  I wanted to allow the process to play out and allow more than just a hand-full of cases to be the basis of my point of view.  The process is definitely not viewed favorably by the vast majority of people I have spoken with.  In terms of how it affects the lawyers that handle eviction cases, the results are not good.  It increases the number of court rooms that we have to be in and increases the number of floors that we are assigned to in the Daley Center. The end result for the lawyers is that we now need to be in more places at the same time.  I have not found the Judges to be too understanding of this in the past and this likely means that we either will have issues on cases or need to hire additional staff to cover all the cases.  In terms of the timeline of cases, except for one particular court room, the time frame from intake to a trial date is going to be longer.  The reason that I can say this is that some Judges are only setting jury trials for evictions on Fridays while others are setting them throughout the week. Regardless of when the cases are set, only a handful of cases are set every day.  Under the old system, trials were set every day and if a trial was going, an available jury trial room would be found that day.  Now, we are in line with all the jury trials set in that court room and the time frames are generally longer and the handling of pretrial issues such as discovery, counter claims and motions vary.  The net result of this will be an increase in the time from setting to trial for cases as well as an increase in the cost of handling a case.  If you are a tenant, that is probably good news. If you are a landlord, anything that increases the time it takes to get an order of possession is bad news as it means additional delays and additional costs.  For the lawyer, it means more client issues and handling the issue of additional time pressures along with the increased costs of handling cases.

Judge Transfers in Eviction Cases

April 23rd, 2015

Yesterday several of the current Judges handling eviction cases announced to the attorneys that they are being transferred effective next week.  Judge Alfredo Maldonado in 1404 is being transferred to criminal, Judge Kristal Rivers is being transferred to juvenile and Judge Melissa Durkin is being transferred to domestic relations.  There was not any information on who is being assigned to take the places of these judges.  After a long period of stability in the eviction court rooms, there is now only one judge that has been there for an extended period of time, Judge Hambright.  With all the changes to the jury trial call and now the regular eviction judges, there is a lot of change in an area that usually is fairly static.

The Jury Call Takes Another Turn

April 15th, 2015

As you know, last week the Judges in the Daley Center announced a change in the jury assignment call without any notice to the regular attorneys.  Since last week, we learned the trial Judges in the regular court rooms did not know of the change.  Since then, it has been determined that the new trial assignments will not take place until April 20th.  Today we learned we were advised that the last few cases that are assigned to the jury room will be handled differently.  Now they are assigning the cases to a trial room with not further orders or rulings.  The process of the change is interesting to see.  The Court is definitely not consulting with the attorneys that represent landlords or tenants on a regular basis.  We now are going to need to be in more places at the same time.  Fortunately the Judges that handle the non-jury court calls are understanding that we have several court rooms to be in at the same time.  I am afraid of how the Judges in the jury court rooms are going to handle things.  My main concern is that it is going to require additional staff attorneys which will raise the cost of hiring an attorney in the eviction court rooms.  As the jury call is done for this week, I will let you know what changes are in store as they occur next week.

Short Sales and Bank Owned Sales Decreasing

April 14th, 2015

I found this article interesting.  The residential real estate market has been dealing with the foreclosure crisis since 2007.  The crisis has caused many former owners to become tenants and allowed many others to capitalize on market conditions and become landlords.  I have also seen many landlords forced into foreclosure by a combination of high debt, non-payment of rent by tenants, being unaware of the eviction procedures and aggressive enforcement of building code violations.   As a seasoned real estate attorney, I often have found myself defending my clients in the foreclosure process, facilitating a short sale transaction or purchasing bank owned foreclosed properties. After so many years of seeing distressed properties lead the market is good to see the market stabilizing.  Extremes rarely make for ideal circumstances.  Obviously, many were hurt during the mortgage crisis.  Other prospered because of the housing market.  For most landlords, surviving the housing crisis was the key as foreclosures meant a decrease in values and an inability to refinance into the historically low rates that we have seen over the past several years.  The Chicago market still has a long way to go but the signs are good for all.

New Procedures in Cook County First District for Evictions with Jury Demands

April 8th, 2015

Every once in awhile they throw us a curve ball in court.  Today we received from the clerk in jury assignment room, a new set of procedures for jury cases.  For those who are unaware, prior to 2012, jury cases generally took about 180 days before you could expect your case to come up for trial.  In 2012, all jury demands on eviction cases were sent to the jury court room and processed through there.  The transfer effectively cut the time frame for a trial down from 180 days to roughly 45 days.  The backlog of jury cases went away. I know that most of my landlord clients were happy that cases moved along faster but still felt that 45 days was too long.  Effective immediately, a new process is in place that will send all jury cases to the Presiding Judge who will assign the case to the trial court room and all matters will be handled by the trial judge.  The effect on the length of time to obtain a trial date is uncertain.   In talking with other attorneys, I have been advised that trial dates are usually within 60 days of being sent to the trial rooms.  We will see how the process plays out.

In the News: The Squatter

April 7th, 2015

A recent case in Cook County, A. Tarraf Construction v. Michele Parker,  illustrates an issue that often faces real investors these days.  What happens when you buy a property and there is a squatter? With the increase of banks selling properties via online auctions and through other no site visit sales, investors are finding themselves in a difficult situation.  How do you ascertain who is living in the property?  What notices do you have to provide?  Is one of the people the former owner?  Is cash for keys an option? Is this person dangerous?  The answer depends on the circumstances the new owners and the actions of the tenant.  The Parker case illustrates the complexities of matters.  Banks selling properties with occupants in the property.  What happens if there are elderly requiring special services.  The Sheriff being behind because of winter.
This is clear:  someone squatting for two years is too long and legal counsel was needed from the outset.

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