In 2023, a municipality sent notice to the owner of a mobile home park and the residents in the park that it would be shutting off water to the park for nonpayment of water services. At that time, the mobile home park had a delinquent water account with the city for $858,447. The mobile home park was served by a single water main, and the owner of the park was responsible for payment of water services, not the individual residents of the park, and a shutoff of water would impact all residents in the mobile home park. One of the residents of the mobile home park filed a motion for a temporary injunction to stop disconnection, which was granted by the trial court.
The city appealed the injunction to the Illinois Appellate Court, which upheld the trial court’s order. Hammer v. City of Blue Island. The Appellate Court held that the status quo in this case was the continued provision of water service to the residents in the mobile home park, and that the balance of the equities in this case favored the residents because of the substantial harm if the water were shutoff while the case moved forward because that would render the residences uninhabitable. The Court also noted that the City’s delay in taking action on the unpaid bill for two years, without notice to the tenants, exacerbated its own injury and harmed innocent tenants who were not aware that the park’s water bill was delinquent. Finally, the Court acknowledged that the injunction was just preliminary relief, and that the city would still have the opportunity to defend the case.
While this case only involved preliminary relief and the case will now move forward for the city to present its defenses against the lawsuit, this court ruling may provide some guidance to municipalities in similar situations to consider seeking legal remedies sooner rather than letting a delinquency continue for several years and to notify both the owner and tenants of water bill delinquencies.