Tuesday, March 10, 2015

reforming evictions in Illinois: having government sell eviction insurance

Recently two bills have been introduced in Illinois General Assembly to make evictions suck more for the tenants. Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park) introduced SB 0871, to expand who can conduct evictions from county sheriffs to all peace officers and private detectives. Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago Ward 6) introduced HB 0160, which makes at least three changes to Illinois law that harms the tenants interests (functionally making eviction more likely to happen and to make it happen faster).

While it may be emotionally satisfying to make evictions more punitive to tenants, the interests of the landlord/property manager are usually served by getting the tenant out expeditiously (or coming to an agreement), not making the process more punitive for the tenant.

What could help the landlord and the tenant? Eviction insurance.

Either the landlord could require the insurance of all tenants or individual tenants could buy the insurance when they begin a lease or when it is renewed annually.

When a tenant gets served with the eviction lawsuit s/he would meet with a lawyer & social worker. If the tenant can pay the back rent or satisfy the problems in the lawsuit, the lawyer & social worker will help broker that deal.

If the tenant simply doesn't have the money and can't get it from her/his personal contacts then the insurance will pay to move the tenant out within ten days.

The tenant will be moved to a new rental unit where the insurance will pay 70% of the rent for one year.

This would meet the landlord/property manager objective of making the unit available to rent. And it would keep the tenant from becoming homeless or being forced to move in with a friend or relative.

The government would benefit from fewer people forced into homelessness and having fewer cases in eviction court.

The insurance rates would be set based on the rent, the history of the tenant and the history of the landlord & property manager. The rates would be higher if they frequently evict tenants.

The insurance would be capped at 15% of rent. If more money is needed to pay for the program, it could be paid for by a tax of no more than 1% on all rental units in the county or municipality and a surcharge on eviction lawsuits.

Home Rule communities would be allowed to require insurance. Judges would be empowered to require plaintiffs to buy eviction insurance as part of issuing eviction orders.

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