Our Stance on Mayor Lightfoot’s COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance

The Ordinance

On Monday, June 15, Mayor Lightfoot introduced the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance, which provides tenant protection and seeks to minimize COVID-19 related evictions. This legislation requires landlords filing evictions in the 60 days following the reopening of eviction court due to nonpayment of rent to follow a seven-day “cooling-off” period, in addition to the regular five-day notice period. After the cooling-off period, landlords must show the court that they have engaged in efforts to reach a reasonable alternative to eviction, including mediation, payment plans or other options before an eviction can proceed. This ordinance is an effort to slow down the eviction proceedings as Cook County judges resume eviction and foreclosure hearings on July 6. The measure was passed by the Committee on Housing and Real Estate on Monday, June 15, and was passed by the full City Council on Wednesday, June 17.

Our Stance & Outlook

We want to work together to soften the blow of COVID-19 on our city and communities. While we agree with the spirit of the ordinance, we believe there was room for improvement and clarification to minimize unintended harm and consequences. The ordinance is shortsighted; it fails to protect small landlords, who are struggling with the very real financial impact of missed rent payments. Stripping small landlords of the tools they need to improve their situation and stabilize financially puts them at risk for not being able to pay property taxes and fees, which the city relies on, or their mortgage, threatening foreclosure. Further, we feel that two of the provisions may be unconstitutional and warned the Mayor’s administration as such. These include provisional repayment plans (Section3. (f)) and altering existing eviction actions (Section3. (h)). This rush to produce a measure only adds more uncertainty into a very complex and continually evolving situation. Our suggestions, which fell on deaf ears in the Mayor’s Administration, the Housing Department and the City Council, include exempting small landlords (owner-occupied or fewer than six units), bundling missed rent in lieu of repayment agreements for each month of rent missed, and adding clarity to the section regarding third party and charities as a payment source. We believe these suggestions would have produced a better, more comprehensive Ordinance.