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Coronavirus Relief for Illinois Residents

For the last few weeks, the most common call coming into my office has been: “Help! I can’t pay my bills with the shutdown. I’m going to lose my home.” To be sure, we are all working to end this crisis, defeat this virus, and get back to normal. For now, don’t worry. There are a number of new programs that will grant coronavirus relief for Illinois residents. In detail, this article will go into the following topics:

  • How Executive Order 8 affects foreclosure and eviction for Residential Cases in Illinois
  • Federal Relief for mortgages under FHA and the suspension of foreclosures and evictions
  • SBA Disaster Loans for COVID19
  • Chicago specific programs for coronavirus eviction suspension
red and white theater with marquee that says the world is temporarily closed
Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Illinois Executive Order 8, Section 2 – Suspension of Evictions as Coronavirus Relief for Illinois Residents

Pursuant to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, 20 ILCS 3305/7(2), (8), and (10), all state, county, and local law enforcement officers in the State of Illinois are instructed to cease enforcement of orders of eviction for residential premises for the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation. No provision contained in this Executive Order shall be construed as relieving any individual of the obligation to pay rent, to make mortgage payments, or to comply with any other obligation that an individual may have under tenancy or mortgage.

Illinois Executive Order 8, Issued March 21, 2020. Section 2.

Certainly, this is a complicated legal issue, but I want to explain to you what is actually happening. For clarity, there are several issues in this order, and it seems to do more than it actually does. Let’s dive into it together.

Analyzing the Illinois Eviction Protections

First, you will notice that the first sentence is all about the Emergency Management Act. This does not really apply to any homeowners or business owners. Rather, it is an instruction to the police and sheriff’s office to follow the orders of the Governor. Simply put, this is the boss telling the employees what to do, and Mr. Pritzker has told our police not to evict anyone until April 7. Now, while I believe the Governor will extend this order and do more, these protections still expire on April 7.

What Coronavirus Eviction Protections are there for Illinois Residents?

Second, you should notice that this coronavirus relief for Illinois residents only applies to the enforcement of orders. Practically, this instruction only goes out to the actual police officers that would remove someone from their home. Moreover, this Executive Order does not apply to landlords. Similarly, it does not change any laws on fair debt collection practices. In total, it states only that law enforcement may not remove someone from their home until April 7.

Third, you will see that this does not create any debt relief. Neither any part of the relationship between landlord and tenant nor any part of the homeowner and lender relationship changed. Payments are still due, and they will continue to accrue during this time. There was no rent freeze in Illinois. If you owe a payment for March or April, that debt is still accruing. Once the courts reopen, you may be liable for that debt. Further, your landlord or bank can still sue for what you will owe for not paying your rent or mortgage. Additionally, this order does not stop your bank from instituting foreclosure if you own a home. To clarify, this order is only protecting against eviction.

new york times article on usa now having more known coronavirus cases than any other country - illustrating need for coronavirus relief for illinois homeowners
Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

Federal Suspension of Foreclosures and Evictions

On March 18, 2020, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new guidelines for coronavirus relief. The guidance applies only to homeowners with FHA-insured Title II Single Family forward and Home Equity Conversion (reverse) mortgages and it directs mortgage servicers to:

  • Halt all new foreclosure actions and suspend all foreclosure actions currently in process; and
  • Cease all evictions of persons from FHA-insured single-family properties.

The federal government did not communicate well on how the freeze on FHA and HUD foreclosures and evictions would occur. Clarity is important, and HUD made it seem like we would all get relief from both foreclosures and evictions. Contrarily, this guidance only applies to the 15-20% of Americans with an FHA or HUD loan. If you have an FHA loan and you can’t pay right now, these guidelines protect you from foreclosure. If you do not, theses guidelines will likely not apply to you.

What does Cease All Evictions Mean?

Even more, HUD’s choice to call a “cease to all evictions” is also bad phrasing. This eviction freeze, much like in the coronavirus relief for Illinois homeowners, applies only to removing someone from the home. To be clear, this is not renter protection, but instead a prohibition on the servicer taking possession in foreclosure.

If you have your closing documents, your mortgage will state in the bottom right if it is FHA. But, if you don’t have them, don’t worry. You can contact your lender for a copy of those documents. Also, you could search your County Recorder’s Office online to find them. So, if your mortgage documents say FHA, you may have until May 17, 2020 to find your solution. If you expect to be facing foreclosure, please don’t hesitate to contact us. I have handled hundreds of foreclosure cases, and the least I could do for my community is help talk you through your options.

Small Business Association (SBA) Help for Coronavirus Relief

If your commercial business is struggling at this time, there are so many programs to help. The SBA has access to so much money to help you and your business during this crisis. Above all, remember you are not alone. I have attached here a quick guide that the Chamber of Commerce put out on coronavirus relief packages.

023595_comm_corona_virus_smallbiz_loan_final_revised

Frankly, this info-graphic is just fantastic. I’m going to briefly detail the guidelines for SBA disaster loans here. If you are a small business owner facing uncertainty or having trouble with property expenses, this should apply to you.

SBA Coronavirus Loans Explained:

  • Eligibility
    • First, the SBA will determine if you are eligible. Eligibility includes:
      • Those who meet the SBA standard for Section 7(A) Loans; or
      • Any individual operating their business as a sole proprietor, or contractor; or
      • Self-Employed Individuals
  • The Good Faith Certification
    • Then, you will need to sign a document that states the following:
      • You need this money to stay open.
      • The business will use this loan to keep your staff on and pay either your payroll, mortgage, loans or utilities.
      • There aren’t any other applications pending.
      • You haven’t already received funds.
  • How Much can I get?
    • Surprisingly, this is probably the biggest small business bailout in American history. You are able to get a loan of 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs, up to $10,000,000.
  • Do I have to pay it back?
    • The SBA will forgive any amount of the loan you use to pay your
      • Employees,
      • Mortgage interest,
      • Business rent, or
      • Utilities.

Can you make that simpler?

You can borrow 2.5 months of payroll from the taxpayers. If you spend it on your workers, you won’t owe it back. Please note, you do have to apply, and the website is receiving a huge volume of requests. You might have to try a few times to get through. If you are a small business and facing difficulty, definitely ask for help.

Chicago Specific Eviction Guidelines for Coronavirus

While I was researching this article, I came across a new court order from Chicago, issued Monday, March 30, 2020. The Circuit Court for Cook County has suspended all filings and enforcement of evictions and foreclosures through May 18, 2020. Landlords may not even file a claim for unpaid rent until that time. Similarly, banks may not file for foreclosure or proceed with their active cases until then. These are much more extensive protections than Illinois as a whole. Let us hope that the State of Illinois institutes similar coronavirus relief for all of us.

Bonus: Homeowner’s Association Dues During the Coronavirus Crisis

road sign stating stay home for coronavirus
Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Finally, it seems that there is little coronavirus relief for Illinois residents when it comes to Homeowners’ Associations. Many of the services that HoAs provide continue on while we work from home. There is no clear guidance about what to do if you can’t pay the Association at this time. HoA violations are typically considered foreclosure-like cases. Hopefully, homeowners have time to catch up in the coming weeks before the courts re-open.

Notwithstanding, I have seen reports that Homeowners Associations in Southern States are assessing members that work from home during shutdown. In those HoAs’ reasoning, the homeowners are violating the HoA bylaws by engaging in commercial enterprises while working from home. We have no guidance in Illinois if this is the case. However, I believe the Governor’s stay-at-home order invoking the Emergency Management Agency Act is designed to protect us. Any Homeowners’ Association that makes an assessment like these is playing with fire, and inviting lawsuits from its members. I don’t think we will see anything like this in Chicagoland.

Conclusion

Wow! This was a long article. If I’ve kept your attention for this long, I really thank you for staying with me. I’d like to ask you to please share this article to help people who need this information. In this time, the good information has become so hard to find, but the bad information is everywhere. I hope we helped you understand what options are available for you. Our state is really working hard to provide coronavirus relief for the affected tenants and homeowners. The federal government is trying to keep the small businesses afloat. There are many programs available for all of us.

Most of all, the hospital and medical staff, our friends and neighbors, are risking their lives to keep us alive. The grocery store workers are risking their safety so we can get our essentials. The folks in gas stations are keeping the ambulances fueled up. We can all do our part in this crisis. And, we will make it out of this by working together… while staying 6 feet apart.

Thank you to everyone who is out there working through this pandemic so we can all stay home.

Justin

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