COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on July 7, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Governor executive orderIllinois courtsLegal Aid Chicago on utilitiesShriver Center on Poverty LawPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Illinois
Are there any special protections for renters during the emergency? How long do they last?

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker's Executive Order suspends enforcement of evictions until the end of the public health emergency, but it must be reissued every 30 days. The governor stated on May 29th that the eviction order will be extended, even while the state ends stay-at-home restrictions. The Governor ordered that all enforcement of evictions be paused through July 26, 2020.

Illinois renters may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through July 2020. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.

What do the protections mean for renters?

The protection means that until the end of the public health emergency in Illinois:

  • Your landlord may still give you a notice to quit.
  • Some courts may still be hearing eviction cases. Check here with the courts for updates.
  • Some courts can still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against, depending on local regulations. Check here for updates.
  • Law enforcement cannot enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.

These protections do not apply to eviction cases where the tenant poses a direct threat to health or safety, immediate or severe risk to property, or is in violation of any applicable building code or health regulation.

Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?

Yes, Illinois renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

You cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent during the emergency, but you may be evicted as soon as special protections end.

Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:

  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make, that are signed and dated. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19’s impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency?

You cannot be evicted during the emergency in Illinois, unless there is a special circumstance involving threats to health, safety, property, or code violations.

Once the emergency period ends, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.

If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.

Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency?

The Illinois Commerce Commission has prohibited all utilities from shutting off services or charging late fees during the emergency. There is a moratorium on utility disconnections through August 1, 2020.

You will still have to pay your utility bills when the emergency is over.

If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still proceeding through court?

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