Eviction - jury trial granted, help!

9 Replies

Hello to all pro landlords,

We have an eviction problem. We have a property manager managing our rental house. The tenants have not been paying for several months now (rent have always been late since they rented the house and we have a two year lease which will end next May) . We hired a lawyer and filed for eviction in July. The court dates were set on 8/8/17 and 8/22/17. On 8/8/17, our lawyer showed up in court and tenant showed up in court (without his lawyer) and requested for another trial, claiming he needs advice from his lawyer. On 8/22/17, our lawyer and property manager showed up in court. I believe we have all the paper work (5 day notice, original lease, updated ledger showing the non payment rent etc). Tenant also showed up at court without a lawyer, showed a lawyer's business card (claiming his lawyer) and requested to have a jury trial. And then, a jury trial date is set in another three weeks (not sure why it was being granted as we have all the evidence to prove that the tenants have not been paying rent)

Our lawyer advised us new fees for the jury trial... we have already paid for 2 trials, a sheriff eviction.... but I cannot see the end of it (since it seems like it automatically granted the tenant's right to drag the case and continue to live in our house for free ..) not sure how much more are we going to pay for the eviction legal fees and how long it's going to take...

I researched online, it seems like most judgement will be granted in favor of landlord during the second trial (if provide all evidence such as our case). But why a jury trial is granted to the tenant for our eviction case?

I also researched that I might be able to file a motion with the court asking for "use and occupation" for the tenant to pay rents while the case is going on... but not sure if this is applicable for IL cook county and how likely will we get the rents...

Can you provide me advice on how to proceed? 

Thanks in advance for your valuable advice.

dont have any immediate suggestion but just empathizing with you since im going through a similar eviction delay that tenant has managed to pull off.  hope it resolves for you soon.

it doesnt help you now but ive read about putting a waiver of right to jury trial in the lease, that in some cases that may be enforceable.  i wrote one into my most recent version a few weeks ago and plan to have an attorney review it prior to using that lease version.  and hey if its not enforceable it was still worth a try as long as we have a severability clause in the lease so it doesnt cause any problem if that section is thrown out

again, hope your tenant issue gets resolved...its so frustrating that they are allowed to do this to us. 

@Athena Lei The first date was probably just to file an "appearance". Judges here don't like unrepresented people and will usually continue a case if someone says they just need a week or so to get the money together for a lawyer. That can sometimes happen multiple times. Its a person's right to request a trial by jury. However, a jury trial is a lot of work and expensive for both parties, so what will likely happen is you'll go to the next court date and the tenant will waive the jury trial and switch back to a bench trial (where the judge makes the decision). 

Then if you did everything right, the eviction will be ordered with a "stay" for a couple of weeks to give them time to move. Once the stay is up the sheriff can come evict, but you'll need your own people there to change the locks and remove the tenant's property if they haven't already gone. And that's assuming we aren't in winter, which this could be delayed until, because all evictions then get stayed until the temperatures come back up.

Its time consuming and expensive. This is the precise reason why cash-for-keys is almost always better, especially in Cook County. Either way, you are going to lose money. I wouldn't bother with filing any motions, those are only going to cost you more in legal fees and give the tenant more time to delay while fighting the motion. 

At this point, I'd ask the tenant, "What do you need from me for you to be able to move out by Sunday @ 10pm?". See what they say. If they say they don't have money for a new place, ask how much the first month's rent and deposit will be and if its reasonable, offer to pay it for them.

Welcome to BP. 

@Athena Lei

Every State has landlord tenant laws. State of Illinois is a tenant friendly state. 

In Illinois, generally speaking, tenant can get a second appearance almost every time and on the second appearance, they could demand a jury trail. So, when it goes to Jury trial, lawyers usually ask money up front.

I don't think, you will have to go to trail #2. Jury will decided in your favor (most likely), but it's a painful process. I have been twice. 

Kindly stay with your attorney and follow advice or it might cost even more. 

I hope it helps.

Thanks for all the useful feedback.

Assuming we win the Jury #1 and get a judgement to evict the tenant and the rent money owed.  What is the best way to collect the delinquent rent?  Shall we use the lawyer again to collect the money?  I was told that lawyer will collect around 1/3 of the delinquent rent to garnish tenant paychecks (etc) to pay the delinquent rent.... 

@Athena Lei The money judgement will stick on their credit report. You can go after them for a garnishment, but keep in mind that a certain amount of income is exempt. Additionally, if the debtor changes jobs, you'll have to go through the garnishment process again. If your tenant's income level is high, this could maybe be worth it, but doubtfully so. They could also file bankruptcy and stop all of this. Most times you'll just be throwing more good money after bad - you'll make much more just moving on and investing in your screening rather than pursuing any case against these deadbeats.

Almost 30 years ago I helped my grandmother with her first eviction.  The tenant was basically crazy.  They appealed twice.  The second time she was required to put up an appeal bond for the full amount of the rent, late fees, and attorney's fees.  The final hearing lasted about two minutes.  She lost we got all the money.  That gave 72 hours to vacate.

The woman actually went to work on the day we were there to move all of her stuff out.  My grandmother gave her a chance to pick up all of her stuff, she said we could not move it out.  Then the constable got on the phone.  He told her off up one side and down the other.

Then he said "We are in the house.  In twenty minutes they will start hauling all of your stuff to the curb.  People have followed me here and are parked across the street waiting to haul all of your stuff.  I will not stop them."

The crazy woman said I will be there in ten minutes with a truck to move out.  She was really there.

You just do not know how long an eviction will take.  That one took almost exactly 6 months.  In Texas, that is a very long time.  The craziest part is she had absolutely no case.  She actually told the first judge she had gotten a $12,000 settlement the first month she did not pay and paid it down on a new van.  The judge said "Are you planning on living in it?"