Earlier this month, the Illinois Supreme Court announced the approval of Rule 139 regarding the practice and procedure in eviction proceedings. The new rule, which went into effect immediately, requires eviction complaints to include a copy of the written eviction notice or demand and, where applicable, the relevant portions of the lease.
The new rule was initially proposed by the Circuit Court of Cook County Pro Se Advisory Committee to the Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice. Rule 139 allows the plaintiff to attach an affidavit in place of an eviction notice or demand using a standardized form. It also enables the use of an affidavit if the plaintiff does not have the lease or there is no written lease.
The new rule was developed to reinforce the law, practices, and procedures in eviction courts by requiring the attachment of demands, termination notices, proof of service of the demands and notices, and relevant portions of the leases at the time of filing an eviction complaint.
Self-represented landlords are now required to attach all necessary documents to their filing to establish their right to an eviction. Thereby, self-represented tenants will now have access to the relevant information at the outset of their case so they can better understand the basis for the eviction and be prepared to assert defenses.
“This new rule will help self-represented parties on both sides of eviction cases and also the judges hearing these cases by requiring key information at the outset,” said Chief Justice Anne M. Burke in a press release.
A Looming Spike in Evictions
The loss of income and employment as a result of COVID-19 has the potential to lead to an explosive number of evictions across the U.S. In March, most state or local authorities issued a moratorium on evictions. The federal CARES Act, which was passed in early April, froze evictions for renters in federally subsidized housing. But as the country begins opening up moratoriums are ending.
According to a housing pulse survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-quarter of Illinois residents and residents nationally said they missed their last rent or mortgage payment or had little to no confidence they would be able to pay on time next month.
In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker extended a ban on evictions until August 22, 2020. The initial eviction moratorium was issued in March. In June, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance, which extends the period that the tenant has to respond to a landlord’s eviction notice from five to 12 days. To qualify, the tenant must write to the landlord during this period stating that they have suffered a “COVID-19 Impact.”
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