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TROUBLESHOOTERS: What you need to know about rent and evictions during COVID-19 pandemic

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(HOI) -- When Governor JB Pritzker issued the stay-at-home order in March many Illinoisans had to alter their lives, including landlords.

The order stated they cannot evict a tenant while the ordinance is in effect.

Denise Conklin with Prairie State Legal said the organization has received about two calls a day regarding housing and evictions since.

Prairie State Legal provides free legal services for low-income individuals.

"It's interesting. Some people have questions about notices that they receive. It may be a five-day notice to pay rent or a 30-day notice to end a tendency and they want to understand their rights," said Conklin.

She said some landlords are still locking tenants out and shutting off the water or electric.

Landlords have to have a court order to take action, which Conklin said are not being issued right now.

As far as the amount of evictions in our area, Conklin said Prairie State Legal does not track that information.

Data from evictionlab.org showed there were 858 evictions in Peoria County in 2016, the latest year data was available.

The number was 512 in McLean County that year, and throughout the state there were about 70 a day.

Conklin added, "This is an issue that affects all kind of folks and a lot of people find themselves in these situations for all kinds of reasons."

If there is an immediate threat or danger to other tenants or if certain damage is being done to the property, the landlord can evict you right now.

While the order is in place you have to pay rent.

If you don't pay, your landlord could start trying to get you out as soon as the order is lifted.

Late fees are being handled differently depending on if your housing is funded.

"If an individual is in subsidized housing, then they are covered by the Federal Cares Act that was just passed and there is a pause on late fees within that context. It also applies if the rental property is covered by some type of federally funded mortgage," said Conklin.

In case your landlord wrongfully locks you out, Conklin suggested you carry a copy of your lease and I.D.

If you've been laid off or furloughed, there are some options.

  • Make sure you have applied for stimulus money
  • Apply for unemployment
  • If you're in subsidized housing, contact your housing provider immediately and request an interim recertification

Jessica Cook

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