Peoria lawyer offers landlords advice on dealing with tenants taking advantage of the state’s moratorium on evictions

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – There is a nationwide hold on evictions until March 31, and some landlords are concerned their tenants might be taking advantage of the situation.

The moratorium was originally meant to provide relief for renters during the pandemic. Now some landlords said it is being used as a shield for tenants refusing to pay.

Michael Sue, an attorney with the law office of Warren Danz in Peoria, is giving advice to landlords unable to kick out squatting renters. He said there are ways around the moratorium if landlords can prove their case.

“The moratorium doesn’t mean that they can’t pursue a lawsuit against their tenants, there are exceptions to the moratorium,” Sue said. “If they can prove that the tenant, A, was causing property damage or, B, is causing any health or safety violations. If they’re threatening neighbors or they’re threatening you or if they’re causing any code violations.”

Sue also said the moratorium only covers “covered persons” and if landlords can prove their tenants are not covered persons, they can proceed with legal action.

“A covered person, it’s online, they [tenants] have to declare that they make a certain amount of income, less than $100,000,” Sue said. “They have to prove that, very important, should the eviction proceed they ultimately will be homeless.”

He said if the tenant is buying assets such as new cars and has a stable income, landlords have to prove their tenant is not a covered person and can most likely proceed with an eviction. He said the landlord has to have strong evidence to do this.

“The strongest evidence is going to have to be very factually-based,” Sue said. “If you have evidence to show you know they’re working, evidence to show a purchase. Maybe text messages or emails from the tenant saying that they can pay but they just refuse to pay, I think that can be strong evidence.”

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