Verella’s Round-Up: Chicago COVID-19 Eviction Ordinance

verella osborne

Verella Osborne, President, Legal Document Management, Inc.


Many property owners will be surprised to learn that, with the enactment of the new Chicago COVID-19 Eviction Ordinance that was passed on June 17th, most 5-Day notices (or any demands for unpaid rent) served on Chicago residential tenants after March 21 are now null and void.

This new amendment to Sections 5-12-020 and 030 of the CRLTO requires that a demand for rent served between March 21 and October 23 must now be accompanied by two notices published by the Chicago Department of Housing - a Tenant COVID Impact Disclosure Notice, which is a summary for tenants of their rights under the new law, and a separate “Tenant Notice to Property owner of COVID-19 Impact” for the tenant to return to the property owner within the 5-day notice period.

The tenant doesn't have to complete this exact form – he may provide the information by any written means, including e-mail or text. If the tenant informs the property owner within the 5-day notice period that they've been financially impacted by COVID, the property owner must provide an additional seven days after the five days have expired to offer the tenant an installment payment plan to pay the delinquent rent. The property owner may also demand to see "supporting documentation" of the financial impact on the tenant (e.g. proof of job loss, unemployment, illness, etc.). You don’t just have to take the tenant’s word for it, but no property owner wants to file an eviction suit unless absolutely necessary, so if a tenant is willing to sign a repayment agreement and commence current rent payments, most property owners will be thrilled.

Note that the law states any repayment agreement must allow a minimum of 60 days for every month’s rent missed, so if the tenant owes three months’ rent, he has six months to repay it. The parties may amortize the payments over a longer period of time by agreement. A property owner cannot ask the tenant to provide any information on the tenant’s “retirement accounts, assets or personal property.” In other words, you can’t ask him how he’s actually going to be able to pay you!

This amended ordinance – and the disclosure notice summarizing the law – suggests alternative options that the property owner may offer the tenant. In my opinion, those options are useless. You don't want to offer to take the tenant to arbitration as that takes months and isn't even enforceable. If you offer to waive all or part of the past due rent in exchange for them moving within "a reasonable period of time," that's also not enforceable if the tenant doesn't move, or moves most but not all of their property.

The law allows a property owner to offer to apply a tenant’s Security Deposit and accrued interest to the tenant’s delinquent rent. If the tenant signs that agreement, he waives all claims for damages against the property owner for liability incurred for holding the deposit. Therefore, if there are any Chicago property owners still accepting security deposits (and I hope there are none), this is an opportunity for you to be relieved from that financial liability.

As most of you don’t accept deposits, the only practical and viable option for a property owner that I recommend is to offer an installment payment plan where the tenant pays current rent effective the next due date, plus an extra payment every 2-4 weeks to be credited to the past due rent. It doesn't matter if the installment payment is small; what matters is that you offer it to comply with the law. If the tenant doesn't sign such an agreement within the 12 days after the 5-day notice is served, then the property owner may file the eviction lawsuit.

Remember that the burden is on the property owner – not the tenant – to prove that the property owner made a repayment offer, in writing, within the 12 days. Thus, you should ensure that the offer is made to the tenant by email or text and retain a copy of your offer. All signed repayment agreements are restricted to interest rates at the current Security Deposit interest rate, and all late fees legally assessed must comply with the CRLTO.

If the tenant signs such a repayment agreement, but defaults, then you re-serve another 5-Day Notice with the required notices before you can file the eviction suit. Unfortunately, the State of Illinois has entered another executive order banning all residential eviction filings within the state until August 23. This new Chicago law has mandated this procedure until “60 days after the state executive order,” which would be October 23, unless the Governor further extends the ban.

Therefore, if you have served any demand notice for rent since March 21 but have not yet filed an eviction suit, you must re-serve your tenant as indicated above. If a property owner filed an eviction lawsuit prior to March 21, the new notice and pleading requirements will not apply.

Property owners are welcome to email a request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free, custom 5-day notice and the two mandated notices published by the Chicago Department of Housing (there are different language versions on the DOH website). Also, remember that this law applies to Chicago tenants, only; regular demand notices may be served on all suburban tenants.

As if the above weren’t enough to make your head spin, in light of the new Illinois Supreme Court Rule 139 adopted July 17th, it's more important than ever for a property owner to take a witness or have some proof when serving a notice on a tenant. We now have to attach the demand notice and/or lease to each eviction Complaint, so the tenant and their attorney have access to the proof documents long before the trial. Therefore, property owners should try to take witnesses or take a picture of the tenant receiving the notice. You may even record the service as long as you also record your informing the tenant of the recording. Remember to keep an exact duplicate of all the notices served.

Finally, the recent CRLTO amendment passed July 22 completely changed the termination notice requirements for month-month tenancies, notices of non-renewal of lease and rent increase notices in Chicago. To summarize quickly:

These new notice requirements do not apply if your lease will terminate 90 days or less from July 22.

That’s it – I’m afraid I have no good news for you and this is not the end of the upcoming anti-property owner legislation. If housing providers don’t start protesting loudly at every level of government, there will be little “affordable” housing left in this city or state.